The Art of Viral Video

September 20, 2010
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Evian baby viral videoLet’s talk a little bit about YouTube and viral videos.

What the hell is a viral video? Will it infect my computer?

Your computer is safe (from the video content itself). What we are talking about here is a video that rapidly spreads through the internet and email like a virus. Often times we think of funny videos like the laughing baby or Charlie biting his big brother (228 Million views). Videos that get hugely popular by friends sharing the video with friends – the spread, well like a virus.

A little over five years ago, YouTube ushered in a new genre of video advertising, one that succeeded on its ability to rise above a world of pet tricks and backyard stunts, to entertain and to be passed around. Call them “viral” videos, super-sized TV ads, branded videos or just plain commercials, a few of them have crossed a significant psychic milestone: 100 million views and counting (27 Million on YouTube).

Last week, the roller-skating babies of Evian’s “Live Young” campaign reached the mark after a little more than a year on the web. This, without any significant TV exposure in the U.S. and very little overseas. It’s advertising that entertains. And it got us thinking: What are the most-watched viral ads of all time?

Specifically what I am writing about today is those super popular ads. Yes commercials – commercials so good that millions of people will watch them by choice. What I want you to think about as you read this and watch some of the videos is this: How can you create you own viral videos? You don’t need a million views because if you target your video right and direct your niche to it. You want you video to go viral inside your targeted niche. The number 1 video advertiser of all time definitely targeted it’s niche

The No. 1 video advertiser of all time is Blendtec, whose “Will It Blend” series has been around in the same form for four years, accumulating 134.2 million views. The key? The brand found what works and stuck with it. Each of the more than 120 original clips has the same kitschy music, the same tagline, variations on the same stunt and the same host, Blendtec CEO Tom Dickson.

Actually it probably didn’t hurt when he blended the iPhone (and more recently the iPad) – remember my last post about leveraging other people’s content – BlendTec is leveraging the iPhone… Point to ponder isn’t it?


What’s remarkable about the top 10 is that viewers would voluntarily watch an ad 100 million times, let alone 23 million times. Not surprisingly, given the recent growth of web video, most of the entrants are recent campaigns, launched within the last year or two. All but one, Pepsi’s “Gladiator,” came after the launch of YouTube in 2005. (The ad, starring Britney, Beyonce and Pink, appeared on TV in 2004.)

In addition to Blendtec, Evian and Pepsi, the list includes two Old Spice campaigns (including the newly famous “Your Man” Isaiah Mustafa), Microsoft’s Xbox Project Natal, Dove’s “Evolution,” DC Shoes’ “Gymhana Two,” and “T-Mobile Dance.”

Here is the full international version of the Evian Dancing Babies video for your viewing pleasure.

The top 10 of all time, you ask? As of 9/6/2010 – here you go!

Already have your own videos online? Post the links below. Also, please add your comments and ideas below.

Source: AdvertisingAge Magazine

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