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VIRAL VISIONARIES: 10 Top Branded Viral Videos

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What makes a video go viral? Some would say it can’t be known—that there’s no “magic formula.” Still others would say it’s completely formulaic and they’ve got the formula down (one they’re not …

What makes a video go viral? Some would say it can’t be known—that there’s no “magic formula.” Still others would say it’s completely formulaic and they’ve got the formula down (one they’re not sharing). We think the answer lies somewhere between both points of view. So, we went on the hunt for the top branded viral videos in hopes of unearthing some of their secrets and best practices to share with you, our Pulse followers.

You’re likely already familiar with some, but we also included some surprise twists. We focused not only on the popularity of any given video—as seen in share and view metrics—but also on how the brands behind the clips engaged in social media in general. Finally, we used our own Sysomos MAP listening tool to monitor some of the online buzz about these videos. We think we came up with some real winners. Take a look for yourself and watch for takeaways that you can apply to your industry.


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    • 1. VIRAL VISIONARIES 10 Top Branded Viral VideosWhat makes a video go viral? Some would say it can’t be known—that there’s no“magic formula.” Still others would say it’s completely formulaic and they’ve got theformula down (one they’re not sharing). We think the answer lies somewherebetween both points of view. So, we went on the hunt for the top branded viralvideos in hopes of unearthing some of their secrets and best practices to share withyou, our Pulse followers.You’re likely already familiar with some, but we also included some surprise twists.We focused not only on the popularity of any given video—as seen in share andview metrics—but also on how the brands behind the clips engaged in social mediain general. Finally, we used our own Sysomos MAP listening tool to monitor some ofthe online buzz about these videos. We think we came up with some real winners.Take a look for yourself and watch for takeaways that you can apply to your industry.
    • 2. 1. VolkswagenMay “The Force” Be with You This video is a veritable trifecta of sharable features. It includes a wildly popular movie theme. It includes a cute kid. Plus, it was launched in 2011 during the Super Bowl. The video features a child attempting to work his Jedi mojo at his house – on the clothes dryer, the dog, his Mom fixing him a sandwich. He finally is able to kickstart the Volkswagen in his driveway (with a little help from the remote his Dad is holding) and he’s adorably amazed. We think the numbers will amaze you: 52M+ video views, 4.9M+ Facebook shares, 37K+ comments, and 4K+ blog posts written about it. Wow. That’s using the power of “cute” to drive engagement. VIRAL VISIONARIES 10 Top Branded Viral Videos
    • 3. 2. Old SpiceNot Your Father’s Aftershave Campaign Reviving an older brand is a tough proposition. Doing it with advertising that not only sells product, but also becomes a cultural meme is nearly impossible. To that, we say, “Meet the Old Spice Man.” More great numbers to report here: 42M+ video views (on the first video alone) with subsequent videos coming with 12M, 8M, 22M, 8M and beyond. Even a spoof made by movie character Puss-n-Boots captured nearly 8M views! This campaign is sharable, amusing, it has verve and snark, and it’s selling product. How does a 107%+ increase in sales sound? We’re betting you wish your video smelled like this one. VIRAL VISIONARIES 10 Top Branded Viral Videos
    • 4. 3. EvianAnimation, Roller Babies and Bottled Water This video came in with very high numbers. For a long time, it has ranked at the top of many lists. Its international version has seen 54M+ views, the U.S. version 16M+ views, and the international version alone has enjoyed nearly 2M in Facebook shares, and over 5K blog comments. Released in 2008, it remains one of the most popularly viewed brand videos. Of course, babies are popular for use with brands, with the E-Trade baby being one of the most famous, but babies on roller skates? It seems bringing the impossible to life is a common theme in viral videos and, yes, even animated babies sell stuff. VIRAL VISIONARIES 10 Top Branded Viral Videos
    • 5. 4. DC ShoesKen Block Gymkhana 4: Hollywood Megamercial What happens when you hire Ken Block, a professional rally car driver, to star in your videos, and then add in tons of product placement, tongue-in-cheek style, and over-the-top special effects? Video magic is what happens. This video has stand out numbers: 16M video hits, 2.2M Facebook shares, nearly 1K blog posts, and 100s of product shown in the video that aren’t the hired client’s product. Plus, it’s nine minutes long! In a marketing world that gravitates toward a singular product focus and 15 second sound bites, this push against the status quo certainly makes this video a standout. Well, alright, the cool car and stunt driving makes it a standout, too! VIRAL VISIONARIES 10 Top Branded Viral Videos
    • 6. 5. Dear 16 Year Old Me Heartfelt Melanoma PSA You’d better get your tissues out before you watch this video. For advocacy-branded public service announced (PSA) videos with a purpose, this one gets our top marks. It’s relatively hard to find great PSAs that go viral, even though video can be a moving and powerful messaging vehicle to catalyze a cause. PSAs often have messages that, frankly, mostly of us want to avoid hearing or acknowledging. This video, however, created by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund, has been viewed by 5.5M+ people and shared on Facebook by 1.2m+. Millions have been reached with this message. Isn’t that what a great brand does? We think so. VIRAL VISIONARIES 10 Top Branded Viral Videos
    • 7. 6. Kia Party Rock Anthem Hamsters You Can Have This Or You Can Have That Would you have proposed a video with hip-hop dancing, animal-costumed characters to your big brand C-suite? Would you have envisioned those characters as hamsters? We confess that we probably wouldn’t have had the nerve. Making “gangsta” hamsters cool is an impressive feat. Kia’s creative team was pretty brilliant, we think. This video’s share and view numbers suggest many other fans agree. Kia incorporates cultural elements targeted to its demographic to demonstrate a competitive brand advantage without being cut-throat. The “You Can Have This or You Can Have That” theme works for us, and 16.7M others! VIRAL VISIONARIES 10 Top Branded Viral Videos
    • 8. 7. Ojai Valley TaxidermyChuck Testa Goes Viral Like a Big Brand Many didn’t believe this commercial was for a real business when it came out. With nearly 1M shares on Facebook and over 11M video views, it looks like this taxidermy shop knows how to rack up more than just deer antlers. So much doubt was in the marketplace that the owner did a follow up video just to confirm that, yes, he represented a real business and the video was not a spoof. Kids have made videos in response, Chuck Testa has been featured on the Tosh.0 TV show, and over 30K comments are part of the viral fever. Pretty astonishing for a taxidermist, don’t you think? It goes to show that best practices extend beyond big brands. VIRAL VISIONARIES 10 Top Branded Viral Videos
    • 9. 8. GeicoMaxwell the Piggy Scores Big Dogs aren’t the only ones who like to stick their faces out of car windows. Apparently, pigs do, too. In this Geico Insurance commercial series, that’s exactly what Maxwell, an animated, smart-aleck, fun-loving piggy, does. Another big numbers winner, these videos have an extreme polarizing effect. Cyberland is abuzz with people who love the pig and people who simply cannot stand him. The parody videos making fun of Maxwell and his adventures are very prolific (and very popular) and don’t hold anything back. But, please, if you enjoy this commercial series, go check all of the videos. You simply have to witness a “Piggy Street Luge”! VIRAL VISIONARIES 10 Top Branded Viral Videos
    • 10. 9. CorningA Day Made of Glass Art, futurism and brand meld beautifully in this popular video. With zero dialog and a great soundtrack, it doesn’t need words to make its point. The numbers are impressive—18M+ video views, 1.3+ Facebook shares—but what makes this video special is that it features end-user products that are not even invented or available for sale yet. This video follows an idyllic family through its day, suggesting creative ways in which Corning’s products could potentially be used throughout the home, in cars, and beyond. These products are simulated, futuristic ideas that suggest uses rather than highlights current items to buy. For vision and style, we pick Corning.VIRAL VISIONARIES10 Top Branded Viral Videos
    • 11. 10. Budweiser9/11 Commemorated Marketers often leverage national news to promote brands. Of course, the terrorist attacks on 9/11 have been an exception. Many would argue the tragedy shouldn’t be referred to commercially at all and the U.S. national psyche has resisted any branded attempts at doing just that. This video is an example of the most tasteful and accepted uses of brand imagery coupled with 9/11 references. There is no dialog, so the moving pictures and moving music really strike an emotional chord here. With 7.7M+ video views and 2M+ Facebook shares, it’s obvious that the commemorative video was tasteful enough to impress millions.VIRAL VISIONARIES10 Top Branded Viral Videos
    • 12. VIRAL VISIONARIES 10 Top Branded Viral VideosMaking Magic HappenIf you’re sitting on a 100% foolproof formula for creating effective and sharableviral videos, you should be vacationing on an island somewhere with billions inthe bank. As mentioned, however, there is likely no true “secret sauce” to goingviral.Viral videos do often share similar elements, however—ranging from humor andsurprise, to moving music and a light touch when it comes to the use of logos.They also often poke fun at convention, and sometimes incorporate well-knownemotional triggers. As some of these standouts have shown, many alsoincorporate a cute animal or funny child! What they all share is an ability toresonate and be remembered. Here’s to hoping that your brand finds its ownmagic video formula!To read all the Pulses and other Slideshare.net presentations, click here.
    • 13. VIRAL VISIONARIES 10 Top Branded Viral Videos THE PULSE: Delivering shareable and shareworthy content with a twistso integrated marketing and communications professionals can work smarter, succeed and enjoy. BROUGHT TO YOU BY www.marketwire.com www.sysomos.com Follow us on Twitter: @Marketwire, @Sysomos www.commpro.biz Follow us on Twitter: @Commprobiz www.smartwomanguides.com Follow us on Twitter: @smartwoman