“BENTON! BENTON! OH JESUS CHRIST! BENTON! BENTON!” Screams an irate dog owner as he chases Benton the out-of-control Labrador through Richmond park after a herd of deer.
The video has the makings of internet comedy gold: A spontaneous event followed by a display of unhinged emotion as the camera moves from a relaxed herd of grazing deer into a stampede of deer by chased by a black dog and who is himself, being chased by his furious owner.
The video, originally posted on the 13th November 2011 on Youtube, didn’t achieve much attention until it was posted on reddit this morning. Both #Benton and Oh Jesus Christ have since become trending topics on twitter and the video has, so far, been picked news publications the Telegraph and the Mirror. The Video has also given rise to a spoof Twitter account and tribute video.
Many marketers will currently be asking themselves why this video, of all the other thousands posted on reddit this morning, became such a sensation. The video in itself is nothing particularly unusual (although some have commented on the unusual choice of name for a dog). Dogs misbehave all the time, dogs chase other animals and there are plenty of videos on Youtube with this content.
Over the past day, the mentions of Benton (mapped in blue) on social networks has superceeded those of Hugh Grant (mapped in orange), who has also been in the press recently and therefore demonstrates the discussion being generated by this video.
Although Content is key, probably the hardest thing for marketers to get over is the amount of signal to noise that exists on the internet. Thanks to websites such as YouTube self-perpetuated media dominates, and often, even videos that make the featured section on Youtube are ignored. The true beauty behind viral videos is that they are infectious enough to be shared across social networks with prompting.
Crane and Sornette (2008) discuss the features that surround viral videos success and discuss the importance of the role timing plays, the network has to be ready to receive the right content. Just a quick glance across the main headlines today might offer a clue into why this video became so successful today. Just this morning, we were told that executive pay has risen by 5000% since 1980 whilst most of us have an earning an average of £25k, there are more riots in Egypt and now Thomas Cook is in debt. Benton doesn’t let the headlines get him down, he continues to chase deer and infuriate his owner, much to the sheer amusement of the viewers of the video, whose minds are taken off of the depressing news for 47 seconds.
British people are generally very reserved about publicly expressing their emotions. In this instance, Benton’s owner isn’t. His tone of voice would indicate that actually very angry and it says a lot that both the Telegraph and Mirror articles draw attention his a ‘swearing’ in their headlines. “Oh Jesus Christ!” is an utterance perhaps more associated with annoyance than white hot rage, although blasphemous, is not exactly the most extreme example of foul language that springs to mind. In fact it’s a phrase that is deeply ingrained in middle class culture that makes it all the more funny that during his pursuit and in the midst of the fury indicated in his tone of voice, the most Benton’s owner could muster was an ‘Oh Jesus Christ.’ It’s little surprise that ‘Oh Jesus Christ’ became a trending topic on Twitter.Tags:Benton, Deer, Dog, Fenton, Headlines, Labrador, Memes, Mirror, Owner, Richmond Park, social media, Telegraph, Twitter, Viral Videos, YouTube