No question, "Sorry, Bill, I'm not missing 'Happy Pony'" is already a cult classic. If anything will push AT&T Universal, that TV commercial with the family friction over program choices will. It's all over the web, including YouTube and Twitter.
So, how do we put together cult classics like that as well as Bob's Discount Furniture, Carter Mario Law Office, Altoids, and Sarah Palin?
Well, of course, there's luck involved in that kind of commercial success, as Nassim Taleb explains in "Fooled By Randomness."
But the odds can be boosted if we think goofy or, as the humor experts would call it, "incongruent." There's earnest monotone Bob, sometimes with his sister, pitching crazy cheap pricing for a four-piece bedroom set. His trick, as with Carter Mario, is extreme repetition. You can't miss either of them on TV. After a while, as with all humor formulas, this hits our funny bone. Yeah, guys, it's entertainment. We call our buddies over to watch Bob or Carter.
Another tip is that the context has to be small-ticket. Few high-end products or services become cult classics, except in scandals as with Client 9. Hook the fish that way and they might stay for the more upscale stuff or even request it. Those who want their family to be able to see "Happy Pony" and every thing else simultaneously might get to like AT&T services so much that they will help the company create $50,000 whatevers.
Third, the promotion itself or some rendition of it has to be a good fit for YouTube. Sales of my novel "The Fat Guy From Greenwich" blossomed nicely after a video trailer appeared on YouTube. In fact, that got the buzz started in Manhattan about who The Fat Guy was/is. And buzz is a necessary but not sufficient platform for a cult classic.
Cult classics can sell anything. And, give the marketability an infinite shelf life. Think "Night of the Living Dead." So, it's plain dumb not to position a product or service, right from the get-go, in an incongruent or off way.
In the buttoned-down discipline of defense law, the online tabloid site abovethelaw.com immediately developed a cult following. Its positioning is irreverence about serious, almost tragic subjects such as layoffs in a field where there are few or any other jobs.