In the heady and fast-paced world of online marketing, we’re often told that achieving social media awareness is the ‘promised land’ – we dream of things ‘going viral’, watching enviously as the likes of Gangnam Style rocket up the YouTube charts and wondering why the stuff we create for our clients don’t achieve the same level of awareness.

Achieving that nirvana of mass social awareness can completely revolutionise your fortunes. Fine, you might have optimised your PPC to within an inch of its life, you’ve got top SEO positions and your affiliate campaign is an award winner.

You might even have a few glossy-looking awards for your expensive TV campaigns on the office mantle piece. But underneath it all, you know that the level of awareness of your product can make or break you.

You can have the best online visibility that money can buy, but if consumers don’t know who you are and what you do, you’re still playing on a level playing field with every other Tom, Dick and Harry out there.

So, it always amazes me when a brand or product manages to crack the code and gain global awareness with an audience. Even more so when it manages to do it without spending a ton of money on marketing.

Step forward, King.com, the makers of the world’s most popular game, Candy Crush Saga.

Whether you’ve been ensnared by the lure of Candy Crush or not (I’m ashamed to say I have – don’t even ask what level I’m on, it’s too embarassing…), I’m 99% sure that every single one of you reading this will know WHAT the app is, and how wildly popular it has become. 

Likelihood is, if you’re going to play the game you will have made up your mind by now – whether that’s because of the word-of-mouth, the amazing Facebook penetration or just the popularity it is enjoying in app stores across the world.

The impressive part is, it has achieved the immense popularity it is enjoying with almost no marketing at all – turning themselves in to an instant case study for the power of social media / word-of-mouth marketing overnight.

So it was with some sadness and confusion that I noticed this week that King is now investing in a TV ad campaign for the game. And we’re not talking a cheap ‘just the rubbish channels’ sort of job either – so far I’ve spotted the ad on Channels 4 and 5, in some pretty prime-time slots.

So what the hell is King playing at?

Having mulled this over a lot over the past few days, I’ve come to two conclusions.

Either King are being advised that TV advertising is the only way to take awareness “to the next level”, OR it’s a vanity move by somebody in the company who harbours secret desires to see the product on the big screen. 

The ironic thing is, if it does harbour desires to see themselves on the big screen, they’re missing a trick – Candy Crush has actually got some pretty impressive screentime by itself – with the aforementioned Gangnam Style’s creator Psy playing the game in the music video for his follow-up single, “Gentleman“. 

Whilst I’m not niaive enough to think that there’s no chance the above example was a paid product-placement, I‘m still confused as to why King has gone down the (forgive me for saying it) old-fashioned route of TV at this late stage.

Is it just a matter of trying to tick all the boxes, to see if they can squeeze a little more juice out of the ‘buzz’? Or just an unimaginative ad exec’s idea of the next big thing?

I’m genuinely confused, will somebody put me out of my misery?