CamRant: Hype

I want to talk about hype.

We all know what it is, and we all deal with it every day. If you’re an average American you see hundreds of advertising messages in the course of any given day. Even those us who choose to lock ourselves up inside in front of these glowing finely-pixeled CRTs are bombarded with advertising in the form of banners, interstitials, shockwave and flash ads, etc.

But there is one thing that changes the simple and accepted form of advertising into an advertiser’s wet dream. That thing is the elusive hype factor. When people gauge an advertising campaign, they talk about the “hype factor.” How much hype does this product/service have? Why is there hype surrounding it? What makes it have so much hype?

Since the summer of 1997, we’ve been under the spell of the hypespinners for the movie “Titanic.” Even before the movie was released, everyone was “talking about it.” Rumors were worth gold and any information was highly prized.

It’s surprising that the Titanic hype has lasted this long. Recently, we all saw the second phase of hype for this movie with the recent home-video release. took a huge loss, fueling the hype by selling the movie online for less that $10. But they gained marketshare, the very thing they were seeking.

If you’re like me, you hate hype. I especially hate movie hype, with the previews that don’t even come close to resembling the content of the movie. The cross-merchandising deals with the fast food restaurants. Man, this is a crazy area. If there’s a hyped movie, then surely there’s a cheap plastic toy or cup to go with it. Eat a burger, play with your toys. The only good uses I’ve found for these toys is to decorate my cube wall-tops. My brother told me about when he was working landscaping one summer, the down-to-earth guys he rode around with superglued these toys to the bumpers of their lawn trucks. In my opinion, a good use.

I guess the reason I hate hype so much is that I’m often disappointed with the outcome. Hype routinely raises our expectations. If the product/service does not meet those recommendations, we’re disappointed….and pissed off. Simply because the advertiser got what they wanted, regardless of how we feel afterwards: our money.

And that’s the way the world works.

If you look at the consequences of this action, you can easily see why some movies can be described as “surprise hits.” Very little hype, but with good word-of-mouth recommendation. Independent films often follow this formula. A recent movie, “There’s Something About Mary” also does. “Godzilla” however, does not. As soon as I saw the trailer at the beginning of “Titanic,” I new this movie was going to follow the classic hype formula. And the fast food toys are still littering lawns all across America, crunching under the tires of daddy’s Land Rover.

Which brings me around to the Rally’s ad campaign. It’s very simple, and very clever. A man drives up to the drive-thru window and says, “Give me a burger. Hold the hype.”

Hey, send me your hype stories.

Posted by Cameron Barrett at September 11, 1998 11:59 PM

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