I have always been a fan of the late Jim Henson, ever since I was a child. So I of course had to click on the YouTube link a friend of mine sent of Beaker singing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” If you’ve seen this already, you know what I’m talking about; if you haven’t and are a Muppet fan, I won’t ruin it for you suffice it to say you need to see it; and if you aren’t a Muppet fan, shame on you. I played that clip a bunch of times for a good laugh, and I even got my six-year-old into it. So what does my fanboy Muppet status have to do with brand integrity and viral marketing?
Beaker singing “Ode to Joy” is not a redub or reedit of old episodes of “The Muppet Show.” It’s one part of original web content featuring various characters from “The Muppet Show” created and produced by the Henson Company. Some of them include “Classical Chicken” with Gonzo, and “Rolling with the Skateboarding Dog” with Rowlf the Dog. What I find unique about the clips is that they update the Muppets to the digital age while retaining the character of Muppets as they have been since the ‘70s. The “Rolling with the Skateboarding Dog” has Rowlf with the skateboarding viral video bulldog and trying to do his own trick. At the end of some of the Muppet clips, we see Waldorf and Stadler peering into their own “web cam” criticizing the clips (W: How many hits did that receive? S: Unfortunately not enough to kill it.). Much the same way “The Muppet Show” parodied, as well as celebrated, the form of the variety show, these web clips use the viral form for as much of the comedy as well as the delivery of the message. In that sense, it is self-referential and thus keeps the brand name and brand quality intact.