Federal Trade Commission goes viral!


What makes this video so interesting isn’t the quality of the video itself – it’s actually pretty good, but the fact that it was created by the Federal Trade Commission (California-based Aperature Films developed this and another Irish folk song styled diddy for the FTC) to compete with a private sector service. Before you raise your anti-government hackles too high you should first understand the context of the video. 

The web is rife with ‘free credit report’ ads which invariably take you to sites that try to convince you to pay for ongoing credit monitoring or similar services (free-ish). The FTC has successfully charged one of the “free credit report ” related companies, on multiple occasions, with deceptive advertising practices. Instead of continuing an endless (and relatively unsuccessful legal) battle with these free wheeling credit report companies the FTC decided to go ‘viral’ and take their fight to the masses.

The fact that a government agency is using social media to spread it’s message is significant. While I don’t expect the Deparment of Homeland Security to be hiring the ‘Light Sabre Kid’ or the ‘Leave Brittany Alone’ person to endorse their next initiative I do expect to see other government agencies begin to engage their constituencies where they are more and more likely to find them – online, sharing information with friends and colleagues.

 The FTC spent approximately $100k on a series of viral video promotions (why they went for Irish music right out of the gate is a mystery) – which is still at least a couple of orders of magnitude less than the other ‘free credit report’ companies spend promoting their services.

Aside from the fact that the US government and private sector services are both competing to offer ‘free’ services it is interesting to hear (albeit in the form of lyrics…) the US government going directly after a commercial service.

We live in interesting times.

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