Whenever I see a great piece of branded online video content, I try and pass it on to you guys. Brands are out at the leading edge of what’s happening in online video, so there’s an awful lot we can learn from their examples. Of course, they’re still largely guessing themselves… feeling out this new viral video marketing world as they go along. But every so often, a brand gets it so right, it’s worthy of praise.

This week we saw two great examples of branded videos going viral, and both used the same hook–celebrity endorsements. But even though their root advertising technique was the same, the two campaigns are wildly different.

Twitter’s Self-Congratulatory Birthday Ad

Did you know Twitter turned five recently? I’m guessing you did, since it was everywhere late last week. Bloggers and journalists scrambled to profile the company and praise them for their growth in customer numbers and service features. The little micro-blogging service that could has grown up a lot in five years… I guess. It’s certainly more respected these days, as it continues to be utilized as a news-breaking tool around the world.

But maybe the most prominent “purpose” for this newly mature Twitter is for celebrities to communicate with fans. Famous folks continue to flock to the service, and fans are following them in droves, anxious to hear what James Franco or Steve Martin might say next. Every other news story about Twitter is simply an announcement about how many followers a particular celebrity has reached on Twitter… or how quickly they reached a milestone.

Of course, the more the celebrities use Twitter, the more we non-famous people want to use it too. So it was smart of Twitter to utilize some of the more interesting and prominent Twitter-using celebrities in their big 5th Anniversary video ad:

Let’s run down some of the celeb cameos we have there: Richard Branson, Paolo Nespoli (the astronaut in the International Space Station), Piers Morgan, Martha Stewart, Serena Williams, Snoop Dogg, Dana White, Hillary Clinton… that’s quite the cast of characters there!

Love how they flash a little international flavor there at the end with the non-English speakers—a way to show off the versatile language options of Twitter as well as it’s worldwide appeal.

It’s worth pointing out that the entire ad–aimed at non-famous consumers like you and me–is about following. “Follow your interests” is the tagline at the end. While they still want new customers, this ad isn’t trying to sell consumers on becoming Twitter authors… but followers instead. Which, again, might signal that Twitter is getting smarter as it ages about figuring out what it does best.

Sony Ericsson Taps Daily Show Star For Xperia Ads

Flight of the Conchords (& Daily Show) star, Kristen Schaal is the star of a series of short new videos from Sony Ericsson for their new mobile device, the Xperia Play. The phone’s biggest selling point is the slide-out video game control panel, which mimics what gamers are used to on console gaming controllers–and lets players’ thumbs control the action without blocking the screen.

The ads are irreverent and hilarious. Here are a couple samples (the ones that currently have the most views):

The tone of the ads is right in line with the target demographic for this device–which is likely to be teenage and college-aged males. While being funny and cracking naughty jokes… the ads also manage to do something too many branded videos fail at: demonstrate the product’s best features.

Wrap Up

Both the Sony ads and the Twitter video make use of celebrity appearances, and they do so in completely different ways. One is edgy and shoots for laughs, while the other is classy and more serious. But both clearly demonstrate the product in action–and both are successful in their own right. Kudos to both brands for knowing and understanding their product and their audience, and crafting an online video designed to pique that audience’s interest and hold their attention.