On Friday, I spoke at a social media conference with Aaron Calloway, a brand manager from Axe. He shared the story of the provocative Axe Detailer CYB Campaign, which earned Axe a Cannes Gold Lion and propelled the brand to major growth. It was ranked the single most viral video of 2010.
At one point, Aaron said, “Marketers often say they want to ‘do a viral video’. You can’t just ‘do a viral video’.”
Most things are not viral and you never know in advance what ideas will work. The best approach is to try lots of things and bring the best forward. Aaron described a long journey bringing this campaign to life and the details involved, far beyond the actual 3-minute video.
For every Axe breakthrough success, there are hundreds of brands that put all their eggs in one viral media basket. Or they chase low quality traffic through frivolous gimmicks that are only loosely related to the brand.
Orabrush is a remarkable case study of building a brand through creative video content. You couldn’t pick a duller category. They sell tongue scrapers for oral hygiene. The founder approached a classroom for help and a student created a clever product demo to bring the brand to life. That student product demo achieved 16 million views and this article in TechCrunch:
“Here’s the surprising thing: The video isn’t really that funny. Saying it “went viral” isn’t quite right. People weren’t forwarding this around saying “YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS! LOLOLOL!” People seemed to resonate with the product itself and a desire not to have bad breath. Many viral videos do little more than rack up page views. This one not only sold ten thousands Orabrushes, it spawned hundreds of videos of people using it and showing the camera the gunk that came off their tongues. Another four million people watched those video responses. And a whopping 20% of people who watched Orabrush’s video went to the site, and 5% bought a brush– metrics that have stayed steady over time.”
Orabrush extended this success to a YouTube channel with a weekly video series called “Diary of a Dirty Tongue”. Their channel is the second most trafficked on YouTube with 33 million views. Remember, this is for a company that sells tongue scrapers.
Their head of marketing (the former student who created the first video) credits their success to “the four Cs of authentic content, collaboration with the YouTube audience, consistency and a clear call to action.”
Most branded videos posted to YouTube miss the boat on those four.
7 CommentsJoin the Discussion
enric badia says
I agree with the concept of “try lots of things”. In my experience you never know in advance where you the right place and message will work. So you have to be very proactive. And second, being creative is not the same as being “absurd”. I think that nowadays people has learned to value the clever and original ideas more that the “just for fun” ones.
It’s an effective bit of interpretive dance, humor and salesmanship, and – though I’m already sold on the concept – not something I’d be loath to link to on twitter and youtube.
I think the thing many companies run up against is this:
1. It takes trying a lot of things to MAYBE find one that’ll resonate with audiences.
2. The more things we try, the more money it costs.
3. Spending money on all those things that DON’T work takes away from other activities we know do work, even if the ROI isn’t as high as a truly successful viral campaign.
4. Let’s keep most of our spending on what we know works, and push our marketing dept/agency to ‘get it right’ in 1-2 tries.
We KNOW this doesn’t work, unless someone gets VERY lucky. But you can see the risk involved in truly giving it a shot to be successful, and how few execs will actually take that chance. Especially in light of the fact that even if you DO go all in and try a lot of things and spend a lot of money, you’re still not guarenteed a succsssful campaign.
Christina Pappas says
I think its comical when I hear someone come up to me or any of my marketing colleagues and say ‘we gotta make a video and its gotta go viral. Can you make it happen?’ Now what am I supposed to say to that? A majority of the time, the request comes from a member of the senior management team who saw something a competitor did and wants to make the same impact. I gotta hang this cartoon in my cube 🙂 Maybe that will deter them.
Many thanks to everyone for the great insights.
This week’s “Marketoonist Monday” winner is Pat. He totally summarizes the resistance to experimenting with video content. What I would add is that too many companies think they need to do something with a big budget (like Axe), which raises the barrier to try. I was amazed that the Orabrush example only cost $400. At that price level, it’s easier to justify experimenting with a few attempts to see what works.
A signed print of this week’s “BrandTube” cartoon is on the way.
David B says
It’s interesting how the objectives marketers set for a viral video are so creatively challenging and inspiring. They want a piece of communication to cut through not only their competitors’ noise but everybody else’s.They want the communication to be so good that people notice it, share it, pass it on and most importantly take action on it. Why don’t marketers apply this thinking to their traditional communication channels and tools? How much more interesting would TV commercials, print advertising and websites be if they were briefed and judged as viral videos were? Why do you only have to interesting or entertaining when you have no budget?
The success of a viral ad depends on people knowing it exists, yet I’ve lost count of the number of times my previous employer (big, multinational FMCG business) failed to share such ads with even the wider marketing team, let alone the whole commercial operation, and (God-forbid) the entire workforce. Surely your own employees are a useful ‘top of the pyramid’ for viral marketing. If you can’t make it stick with the people who have a vested interest in your brand how do you expect to reach and tempt potential new consumers! It was like some expensive covert operation. I had visions of a war bunker where things like this were designed and released.