My friend Zeb decided to create a special video that shows how I’m an up and coming candidate for president. I must admit that the email I got from him was pretty compelling, with the following vague text:
I went on this online community thing and everyone was talking about you… what is going on? There’s even a video about it on News3Online. www.News3Online.com
Let me know,
and the linked video was fairly well done, but a bit long. I’m still not sure exactly who did this, or why…
This tactic of creating a controversy (i.e. a viewer would question if the stunt Kobe pulled real or faked) is a good way to use YouTube to increase video views. The video description also reinforces that skepticism:
When an Aston Martin is coming at you at 50 miles per hour, what else can you do but JUMP! That’s what Kobe does, but is it a special effect or is he that talented?
Of course the person who uploaded this film knows the answer, but the technique of creating a question that draws people in to view the video is a very smart tactic in viral marketing.
Also note that Nike products are subtly mentioned just at the very beginning of the clip, and not even mentioned in the tags. Did it work for Nike? Guessing so, with over 1.7 million views in 4 days, and top honors on YouTube (#7 of most viewed on YouTube this week). Overall, a very nice deployment on Nike’s behalf.
Miller High Life gets kudos for responding to the SuperBowl Sunday ad spectacle with this quickly turned-around video. Nice way to ride off the momentum of the SuperBowl. I’ll be curious to see if it takes off.
You may not have heard the term “sweded” yet, but I’m betting that once Michel Gondry’s new film Be Kind Rewind premieres in late February, we’ll be hearing a lot more of the term.
Sweded is the term used by the characters in the film (played by Jack Black and Mos Def ) to define their “reenactments” of films. Their reenactments of classic films are incredibly lo-fi with shaky cameras and low production values. Almost like Cinéma-vérité, but with ironic and intentionally bad production. Already there are sweded videos popping up on YouTube, included sweded versions of Boogie Nights, Kill Bill, and Rambo. Many of these are because of a contest promotion related to the film, but I have a feeling that the concept of sweding just might take off.
A great example of how Gondry is not just a master of filmmaking, but also a master of seeding and viral marketing. Perhaps he can make sweded the woot of 2008.
Brian Morrissey of Mediaweek published an article today about the Rules of Viral Success that is a great read for anyone who works in advertising or is interested in understanding what tactics work in viral marketing.
He notes that one of the key components to a successful viral campaign is to focus on simplicity. He cites OfficeMax’s Elf Yourself and Burger King’s Simpsonizeme as good examples of sites that focus on one simple task that is then easily sent out to others in your social network. In advertising, creatives often try to out-do each other to the point that a simple site becomes buried with complexity. Morrissey cites Verizon’s Action Hero site as a site that had amazing functionality but lower user interaction, and hypothesizes that it is due to complexity of the site (which is down, but you can see an example of the videos you could make on YouTube).
The Elf Yourself campaign was smart, not only because it is so simple to use that even a grandmother can create a message, but also because it is one of the few recurring viral successes. OfficeMax was smart to re-introduce the application they created last year — and it points to how seasonality and simplicity can help advertisers who want to reuse content instead of reinventing the wheel each time they want to create a marketing campaign. Apparently people never tire of getting custom messages from their friends dressed as elves. I would imagine that OfficeMax will continue to use the Elf Yourself campaign in coming years, and it will become as intrinsic to the Christmas season as all those holiday songs that you hear, everywhere you go, for the 6 weeks leading up to Christmas.
Moral of the story: Follow the KISS principle, and steer away from user experiences that are overly complex. If the goal of the experience is to be viral, short experiences will more likely to be embraced.