Online video excites me for a lot of different reasons, but it’s the really creative stuff that geeks me out the most… the artistic experimentation and innovation that occurs out on the fringes. This weekend I saw an online video ad that combines exercise, art, and a video wall in a subway station. It’s the race a marathon runner ad from ASICS, and it’s a pretty great little piece of social video marketing.

Interactive Video Wall Ad Lets You Race An Olympian

The ad is from creative agency Vitro Videos, and the concept is insanely smart. They brought in real world marathon runner (and Olympic athlete), Ryan Hall, and filmed him running at his normal marathon pace, using multiple cameras side by side. Then they installed a video wall in a public subway station, so that the final video of Hall makes it appear that he’s running through the station.

Finally, they invited anyone and everyone to try and race against the video of Hall. And not one person was able to beat him to the finish line 60 feet away.

Check it out:

The point, of course, is that marathon runners move at an incredibly fast pace–far faster than we tend to realize. And they’d have to in order to complete a marathon in 4 hours and change. Hall’s stride is 6 feet long, which means he’s covering large amounts of ground even when he doesn’t appear to be sprinting.

Of course, ASICS and Vitro shot video of the whole public experiment/art-project, edited it down into a compelling mini-documentary, and put it on YouTube. AdWeek then picked it up, and the video started picking up views from there.

Oh yeah… it was also still unlisted as of last night. 15,000 views in a week or so, and the video wasn’t even public. That’s really impressive, because it means it can’t be found by those browsing or searching YouTube. This morning, however, it’s now a public video, with over 200,000 views. Yeah, that’s a pretty popular video, I’d say.

So what happened?

I have no idea. I can only assume the video somehow leaked to AdWeek before the company intended to officially launch it–maybe an overzealous intern or something. And it’s a great piece of video ad content, so you can see why AdWeek would write about it, and why their readers would share it on places like Reddit and Gizmodo. So then the brand probably decided it’d be best to capitalize on the popularity and go ahead and make the video public earlier than planned.

And that’s how the beginnings of viral activity can happen even when a video is unlisted–because compelling content trumps all else in online video marketing and social video advertising.