On costumes, burritos and deep-tagging media

While chatting with the team from Motionbox, a video sharing firm, a man popped into the office with the funniest news I had heard in awhile.

“Hey guys, if you dress up as a burrito on Halloween, Chipotle will give you a free burrito,” he said.

My first thought was “What the heck does a burrito costume look like?” My second was “Now that is sheer viral marketing brilliance.”

Not only is the firm encouraging fans to emulate its product, but my guess is that many more will flock to the Chipotle restaurants just to observe these die-hard fans. Most will buy burritos, offsetting the cost of giving away product to those who have creative tin foil talent.

When someone politely pointed out that this is an annual Chipotle promotion, I was suddenly crushed, feeling like some cultural hermit.

Back at home, I conducted my research. A Flickr search returned about 56 results for “Chipotle Halloween.” Google image search returned only two dozen images for the same query and YouTube had a lone video.

“How is this possible?” I thought. I would have expected such a viral promotion to be major content sharing fodder. After all, aren’t we all equipped with camera or video phones and the ability to post content to the Web?

Then I realized how quickly and seamlessly advances in content sharing have been inserted into our lives:

· video-sharing sites existed (2005)

· photo-sharing sites existed (2003)

· cell phones functioned as camcorders (2002)

· cell phones functioned as cameras (2000)

· people had cell phones (1985)

· people had camcorders (1982)

· people had cameras (1950).

And yet in 2006 , the ability to record and share media is as common as the ability to physically write something down, if not more so. I always seem to know where my Treo is, yet I struggle to find a pen.

Regarding media sharing sites, the Motionbox team suggested that there are 20 key competitors and over 200 in the category. While this might seem like a ridiculous number, remember that the camera’s advent also witnessed many start ups, each with its own unique contribution to the image and video products that exist today.

One of Motionbox’s major contributions is “deep tagging,” allowing users to not only tag an entire video clip, but to tag segments of that video as well.

Returning to the apparent lack of “Chipotle Halloween” content, it is possible that a few of the 17,000 YouTube results for “Halloween” also have a reference to someone dressing up as a burrito, but have not been tagged as such.

Is deep tagging the next step in media sharing and optimization? This is wholly up to the consumer to decide. And in the meantime, it is not too late to buy some tin foil, fashion yourself a burrito costume and enjoy the free meal. (Or simply take a picture of someone else that has.)

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