In Jonah Burger’s Contagious, he talks about the idea of the STEPPS, and why things become popular and viral. The first one of these STEPPS is S – Social Currency. Social Currency is the idea of the value in what we say, do, and have that may make us interesting or boring to people. “From the clothes that we wear to the car that we drive,” social currency is determined by what we talk about and how people see us. The next part of STEPPS is T – Triggers. “Triggers are like environmental reminders for products and ideas.” This meaning anything in our environment that can remind us of a product. Anything you hear, smell, or taste can remind you of something. For example, you smell turkey, it’ll remind you of Thanksgiving and spending time with family eating Thanksgiving dinner. The next step in STEPPS is E – Emotion, and that is just anything that can connect to someone on an emotional level whether largely or otherwise. The first “P” in STEPPS is Public. Public can be looked at like the “monkey see, monkey do” concept. For example, if you see a product start becoming popular, you’ll want to know why it’s popular, so you’ll either buy the product to try it out or just sample it yourself to see what the big deal about the product is and see if you’ll like it since everyone else seems to be enjoying said product. Not saying that people copy each other, but that people have to see people with the product to influence your decision if a product is good and worth your time or not. The second “P” in STEPPS is Practical Value. People will also share things and make them popular because they have practical value in everyday life. Finally, the last step in STEPPS is the second “S” – Stories. People see the value in telling stories. For instance, when ads tell you stories or just about their product in general, people have a hard time believing ads’ stories, but if their friends told them their experience with the product the ad was talking about, that person would have a better time believing the story.
In his book, Berger explains the idea of the Trojan Horse, which derives from the Greek Trojan Horse, and means “beware of Greeks baring gifts.” Advertisements can trick you into buying their products because they only talk about the positive of their products. There’s never an advertisement speaking on their products faults or negative reviews. This relates to the video above because Pepsi is showing you that if you drink their product you might be able to have the same ability as Jeff Gordon and be able to whip around a Chevy Camero the same way he has. Unfortunately Pepsi will not be able to do any of that for you. It may quench your thirst in an unhealthy manner, but that’s about it.
In terms of effectiveness, I do believe that the video was effective in getting across the message that people should buy Pepsi. The video was entertaining enough to capture 40,576,123 people’s attention to watch the video, and I believe at least 1-3 out of 10 people went out and bought some Pepsi product after they saw the video.
The video consisted of Jeff Gordon being disguised as anyone other than him, and he went to a car dealership as if he’s looking for a car. Then as he speaks with one of the employees they decide to go on a test drive, and at first it looked like he couldn’t handle the car well, then he just takes off in the car driving recklessly, but actually being very in control of the car around a test driving course and parking the car back at the dealership. Once they got back to the dealership the employee is blistering mad and threatens to call the police. That’s when Jeff Gordon reveals that it’s him and it’s a prank video for Pepsi. The video fulfills 3 of the steps in STEPPS and clearly validating its viral status. Social Currency: the video is very interesting because the concept of Jeff Gordon dressing up as a normal person and driving as he did on test drive randomly. So instantly people will want to watch it because of that. It uses Triggers like the Camero and Pepsi so that you can remember this commercial and either the car or the soda will trigger one another in context of which one you see. Stories: this creates an interesting story you can tell someone when either a Camero or Pepsi gets brought up. Even if it’s a conversation on a recent or cool video someone has watched recently the experience can spark an interesting conversation. It did however, struggle with Emotion. This video did not do well with grabbing people’s emotions for the majority. It was just a cool video to watch. Also Practical Value was one it did not hit at all. Watching Jeff Gordon drive like a mad man isn’t very practical in everyday life. Pepsi didn’t make a commercial explaining how their product or this activity could have any practical value in everyday life.
This is how the STEPPS process by Jonah Berger can be used to determine how things become viral or popular in today’s culture.
Now, here is a hyperlink to a really cool website as a reward for reading through this entire blog.