Some things just shouldn’t have sequels – especially one off commercials and viral videos that really make you smile the first time you see them (and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, …. :). However they lose something in the translation once they start to be serialized.

To a large extent I think this has to do with the fact that we are connecting to an occurrence which is beyond our normal range of experience and not personae. For example, serial programs like Law and Order, Star Trek, X-Files, The Simpsons all have staying power because we connect with the characters and as a result it doesn’t matter that a particular episode sucked this week or shocked the week before. We know the quality of the characters which is what drives us back.

On the other hand, things like Slueman Mirza’s Michael Jackson dance on Britian’s Got Talent is funny the first time but loses all appeal as soon as they try to dress it up. Like Simon says – can you go on surprising us. Seems the answer is no.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t some good attempts. Take the Old Spice commercials with actor Isaiah Mustafa..

While part of the appeal is also in knowing the back story to the actor that plays the role, that isn’t to say that sequels to the original get it right. For some you could they get it …. well …. I guess you can see for yourself:

That isn’t to say that imitation of the original doesn’t lend itself to creativity – There are somethings you just have to trust to the professionals

I think the most classic fail has got to be The Evolution of Dance.  Once is fun but trying to watch The Evolution of Dance 2 is just plain torture.

I was thinking about this in relationship to the Samsung Galaxy 580 YouTube video with this cute kid leading a dance craze

What fascinates me about this video that came out in the fall of 2010 is that there have been next to no imitators of this video. Yet the principle behind it is so core and fundamental to the way in which society operates effectively. Innovators, Leaders, and Followers. We see so much in the way of humanity being uncivil to each other in the news and media that little gems like this go unnoticed.

Not in the viral sense of “ah ha – you got me – here I thought it was a home movie”. More in the sense that there are real life everyday stories of individuals whose innovation and creativity inspire others, who lead, guide, and mentor others to expand their horizons. Not blindly as in sheep but in healthy, positive, and caring ways that may not benefit the world – but as an aggregate can change the way we as a society look at it.

Take this video for example which documents in freeze frames “Mike’s” walk across America in the early summer of 2010.

Advertisers are starting to get the fact that sequels in social media is not about imitation, nor is it about originality even though both are helpful. In the long run it is those stories that we tell which is what drives interest and connection to a brand.

This is why The Evolution of Dance 2 doesn’t work, nor does the subsequent Old Spice commercials. While they may generate interest in the fact that they are sequels, the story is the same. We’ve heard the story. We got the punch line. The connection is lost because there is no growth associated with the telling.

Sure there may be new gimmicks but then what are we really watching? A story designed to build an association with a product or a proof of concept to show just how far we can take live action shots using the minimum amount of CG possible?   Like Star Wars episodes 1, 2, and 3 – just because we can do a thing doesn’t mean we should. Especially when it is done for the sake of expectation and not because it is well thought through.

As a concept – there should be an X-Prize for social media development for the first broadcaster which can bring 365 inspirational stories to lead-in prime time news that show their audience what is possible when people put their minds to it. 365 days where the lead story isn’t about pain, destruction, shootings, fires, wars, or all other manners which highlight man’s inhumanity to man.

That would be a sequel worth watching.

— Kevin Feenan

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