Planking: A viral phenomenon

If you don’t know what “Planking” is, you either live under a rock or have a life outside of the internet (makes sense? No? Good). To sum it up, one essentially stretches out face down with one’s arms touching the side of the body in a peculiar location, followed by taking a picture and ideally sharing it online. Although the game has allegedly been around since 1997, it has grown as a worldwide phenomenon since 2009, spreading like wildfire through social media. (Learn more on the history of Planking here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lying_down_game)

Part of the joy of the game is that it is incredibly easy to participate in – anyone with a phone that has a camera feature can easily snap a picture and instantly share it through any form of social media. The ease with which one can join has surely contributed to the game’s rapid growth. Everyone from musicians to athletes and actors are joining in and sharing their “Planks” online. NBA star Dwight Howard has a robust collection on his Twitter page, and actress Rosario Dawson has been seen Planking hosts’ desks on recent late night TV appearances (yes, PLURAL!).

Given the fantasy of almost all advertisers is conceptualizing or attaching ourselves to something viral, one wonders how long it will be before brands find a way to join in on the trend in ways beneficial to their product/ service. Aforementioned actress Rosario Dawson has hinted working on a “Planking for Peace” project, so this may simply be a case of who brings forth the most innovative idea first. Will brands try to something as simple as showing someone Planking in a TV spot in an effort to establish themselves as fun and hip? Will there be a sponsored Planking contest, encouraging consumers to submit Planking pictures incorporating a specific brand (not likely, given there is a huge liability issue – an Australian man recently died Planking http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43036847/ns/world_news-asia_pacific/t/australia-man-plunges-Planking-death/)?

IMAGES USA wants to hear from our readers. Is Planking the dumbest thing ever? Should brands just leave it alone and let it fade into internet obscurity on its own? Or on the contrary, does Planking symbolize the vast viral possibilities in 2011? Is it simply a matter of time before a brand finds a way to get involved and translates the viral presence into positive metrics? Chime in!

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2 responses to “Planking: A viral phenomenon

  1. I have not attempted planking yet but I am definitely interested in getting a few good shots soon. This is definitely a testament to how major social media is right now and what a great influence it has on our every day life. Social media should definitely be a part of any strategic marketing plan to maximize reach at minimal cost. This is a great article.

  2. I believe that our generation has created the best way to share… anything. This generation has the most open minded individuals because of the internet. Because this is so, we control what businesses sell, and better yet, how they sell. I believe that the “Planking Craze” is something that is in the now. It may be dumb, unnecessary, (and dangerous in the case of Acton Beale), BUT the Now always wins. I would say they [brands] should take advantage if they can, before it’s over and considered and “old fad”.

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