TomTom is a fairly well-known brand name. They’re one of the major competitors in the GPS market space, along with Garmin, Magellan, and a few others. However, TomTom has something the other GPS brands don’t: a great track record of branded social video and viral video success. In fact, I think they may have stumbled onto a formula for online video they can use over and over again.

TomTom Branded Social Video Featuring Knight Rider

The latest online video campaign from TomTom involves the classic television show, Knight Rider. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, or simply too young to remember it, it involved a talking car and the private investigator who drove it. The car could do all sorts of things like jump into the air spontaneously, burst through concrete walls without suffering damage, and even accelerate to insane speeds with a turbo boost.

If it sounds ridiculous, it was, which is exactly why I loved it as a kid. I don’t think I knew any kids who didn’t love it as much as I did.

So TomTom is having a little fun with the show–I’m sure they have the proper permissions–by tweaking the concept to include GPS navigation instructions. Check it out:

Previous TomTom Viral Success

TomTom also had two of my favorite online video ads of 2010 when they were rolling out the newly available Star Wars character voices for their products. And while the ability to have Darth Vader or Yoda read you your navigation directions is probably appealing enough on its own, the company also created a couple of hilarious ads to help generate some extra buzz.

Take a look:

And here’s the other one:

The TomTom Formula For Social Video Success

Can you see the formula? Take one pop culture phenomenon or icon (such as Knight Rider or Star Wars), and then toss in the company’s product (GPS navigation systems) to turn that original icon on its ear a bit.

Obviously, the end result videos still have to be funny. They still have to connect with the audience in an emotional way if they’re going to drive sharing behavior. In this case, though, the videos definitely achieve the right level of humor for audiences to help them go viral.

I’m not saying TomTom invented this type of approach. Parodying or playing off popular culture is a long-standing viral video tradition. But these guys seem to have found a groove… a bit of a sweet spot. And I think there are a number of other famous characters or stories that we might see receiving the same treatment in the near future.