Elements of Viral

Elements of a Viral Video

I’ve never created or even tried to create a viral video. That being said I’ve watched something roll out the last few weeks that I’d like to highlight. It’s more of a form of ‘Push Viral’, that is you create a concept with all the right elements and push it out with the intent to go viral.

An great example of this comes from CCCP who started as a production agency, but quickly found out that they could easily vertically integrate advertising in their business model. I love some of these guys ideas and what they have put together.

The latest was “liquid mountaineering” a “new sport” where you run at great speeds to walk on water. With over  5 million views (not bad for a month) this video has hit viral status.

Original Video

A few days ago the reveal video came out. This is where they reveal how it was done, the concept and who was behind it. Pull quote from that…

“What are you doing here?”

“We are selling the world a new sport”

Believe it or not they might have just done that. There are a few videos popping up of people putting this new sport into practice… well not really…

Watch the reveal video:

Hey Check This Out

Another notable item from CCCP that I really like is the full page video for HEMA (this is something worth checking out). Like all great viral pieces it makes you share and say to your friends or associates “hey go check this out”. Isn’t that really the essence of what goes viral?

What Is Viral?

Viral is something that once it gets started has legs of it’s own. It’s awe inspiring, touching, moving, or unique and authenticity was the one key element that CNN reported as a critical element of viral videos.

Let’s get back to walking on water. One of the reasons why I think the Liquid Mountainiring was successful is it contained elements of authenticity. Just as good humor has an element of truth I believe that concocted viral videos must  have an element of truth.

If you watch the reveal video you’ll learn exactly what I mean. First they went to real athletes and pitched the idea. Then they went farther and instead of just having a one day video shoot they had the actors live in the characters–essentially giving the ‘athlete actors’ cameras and allowing them to totally immerse themselves in the characters. This created the authentic elements of the video. It’s also done in a way that you could reasonabily say “yeah that could be true”.

In the original video comments there are still people arguing back and forth if this is possible–even after the reveal video has been released.

Are There Risks Here?

Sure, I wonder if the time and effort spent into making a viral video often pays off. Do we ever hear of the viral efforts that don’t go “viral”? Also one of the issues I’ve always had with this form of marketing is how do you track it to the bottom line. While there are great examples like Will It Blend, Lady Gaga, David at the Dentist, and Evolution of Dance by Judson Laipply–these are the outliers. How do you drive these efforts to sales?

Another element I don’t see often discussed is how this makes the consumer feel. Do these efforts make the consumer feel slighted? While I believe the liquid mountaineering for HiTec does fall into the acceptable column I still wonder how Toyota is doing with Meet the Sienna Family and the Swagger Wagon campaign. This campaign walks a tight line of offending and being to hip for it’s own good. That’s my thoughts and maybe I’m not in the target market (which I’m quite sure I’m not). Still it feels like a lame attempt to garner buzz but not drive sales.

I do think there is a thin line between producing content that connects with the target market and gets buzz to those that offend on a slight emotional level.