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Viral Marketing 101: Geraldo Rivera Shirtless or Nude

Geraldo Rivera, that shameless publicity monger, has done it again! And, not in a good way. Last night, he tweeted a picture of himself shirtless. (He can teach us marketers a thing or two about viral marketing).  Now, the tabloids of the Internet (e.g., Huffington Post and the like) are picking up on it like wildfire, and it even shows as top trending search on Google:

If that doesn't work, just Google 'Geraldo Shirtless' to "see" what the fuss is all about: a 70 year old man, shirtless.


What's Going On, Geraldo? Teach us to Viral Market.

See Geraldo Rivera Shirtless
As marketers...  we want to look behind the scenes as to who is creating publicity, why and how. 

#1 - Geraldo is "stupid like a Fox." Here's a guy who's campy self-image is a man-on-the-street yet he seems to hang in there, year after year as someone on the publicity circuit. So he tweets a semi-obscene photo of him (Reminds you of Anthony Weiner, the New York congressman and his issues, no?).

Geraldo's possible goal: stay visible, get buzz going around you. Get 'em talking!

#2 - the public. Everyone loves a scandal.  People love shocking, gross, offensive.  (Just pay attention to what trends on YouTube or what trends on Google searches!). This viral photo is leveraging that hunger for scandal we all share, and the Huffington Post and the other blogloids are picking up on that trend to "sell more ink" and "get more ad views."

#3 - the blogloids. HuffPost and the like are in the business of promoting scandal, so they are the viral video / photo's best friends.  What Seth Godin calls the "sneezers" - the ones who take an idea and spread it to the winds.

So take Geraldo's shameless hunger for publicity, the public's appetite for a little sexy scandal, and the blogloids = viral on the Internet.

What Geraldo Doesn't Teach Us: Brand Image

So Geraldo is "going viral" with his semi-nude photo....  But...  What does this mean for his brand image? He stays campy, a bit gross, off-kilter, and just weird.  So he doesn't make the leap to respectable journalist but rather stays more like weird, sometimes funny, off-kilter Uncle who does inappropriate things.

Learning from Geraldo: Going Viral in a Good Way

So Geraldo's latest escapade teaches us something about "going viral" but in a bad way. Weiner of New York did it worse, but we (as marketers) want to a) go viral, and b) preserve our brand image.

Will it blend anyone? What are your thoughts on the "Geraldo Shirtless Scandal?"


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