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Posted 9th February 2017

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Welcome to a secret post. I mean, as secret as any post can get which is blatantly published on the front page of this site. But I won’t be linking to this on Twitter, and that’s where the majority of my hits come from these days. I want this to fly at least a little under the radar.

Back in 2013, mobile company Three produced a very silly advert. An advert which by all accounts should have irritated the hell out of me. A CGI moonwalking Shetland pony, painfully asking to go viral, with the slogan “Keep on internetting”? And yet… man, something about the ad just made me love it regardless. Maybe the choice of song, maybe the quality of the animation… or maybe the other slogan: “Silly stuff. It matters.” I almost want to nick that slogan for Dirty Feed.

So, every so often, I’d hunt down the advert again, and give it a watch. In 2013, through to 2014, 2015, 2016… long after the point Three themselves cared about it. Which perhaps explains why, when I tried to find it this month, I was greeted with the following:

Yep, Three have made the video private on their YouTube channel. No more ponies. Boo!1

Still, never mind: there are other copies of the advert available online. After much consideration, I’ve decided the next canonical location of the advert is on the Vimeo account of production company Blink. And here it is:

Ponies are back. Hooray!2

Which brings us to my little experiment. It took four years, until 2017, for the original URL of the advert to become invalid. How long will it take for this version of the ad to fall offline? And will there still be a decent, high-quality alternative location anywhere else if that happens?

Sure, the ad feels safe for now. But a lot can happen on the net in merely a year, let alone, say, five. What if Vimeo goes under, or gets bought out, or change their terms of use, or Blink decide to repeat history and have an ill-advised cleanout?

So: shhhhh. Keep this little experiment quiet. We want as little outside interference as possible. Let’s just see how long it takes before a lovely little advert manages to disappear for a second time. And along the way, we may learn something about the eternal impermanence of the web. Because my hypothesis is: over the coming decade or so, I’m going to end up chasing increasingly lower-quality copies of this advert all across the net. And we may even be left at the end of it with no decent copy online at all.

Or am I being too gloomy?

  1. The obvious question, of course is: why did Three set the video to private? Was the video really harming them, buried away in the deep dark depths of their YouTube channel? Was it removed from public view due to music rights, or do Three have some misguided belief that everything on their YouTube channel has to reflect their current marketing? 


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1 Comment

Martin Clayton on 9 February 2017 @ 12pm

The ad very nearly works for me. The tractor ‘punchline’ is great but the music – mindless (in a good way), repetitive (in a good way) and joyful – is out of whack with the ‘why’; there’s no obvious companion and it doesn’t look like a response to trudge, say. We’re obviously on highly subjective ground, but, yes, it’s strange that they didn’t allow the ad free reign.

On the strapline you might like “Stuff it. Silly matters” (similar meaning, less copysome/’fringeworthy), or, more off-piste, “Stuff, IT. Matters, silly”.

“Dance like a donkey. Sing like a Bee”. Or something. :)