It’s Friday again, and I’m guessing there are many of you in the path of the great blizzard that are probably still working from home today, though hopefully most of you are starting to thaw out. Which, I suppose, might increase the need for some leisure mixed in with your business… perhaps some fun distraction in the form of viral videos? Luckily for you, I have come bearing just that:

Cars & Movies

We’re coming up on the Super Bowl this weekend, which is always a huge time of year for viral video action. Some of this year’s commercials have already leaked online—most of them intentionally, to build buzz for the commercial (Budweiser’s even been running teaser commercials for their Super Bowl commercial).

Perhaps the best I’ve seen so far is this ultra-charming ad from Volkswagen featuring a pint-sized Darth Vader. You will enjoy it, I have no doubt:

It’s always a risky proposition to reference Star Wars in a major ad campaign (as well as an expensive one, I guess), but this commercial nailed it. It’s cute, funny, and shows off a cool feature of the car… all in about a minute. It’ll cost them $6 Million to air it on Sunday night, but considering they already have over 5 million views, I think they’ll end up feeling like they got their money’s worth.

Another great car ad that hit this week also involves a movie, but in this case it’s a movie that hasn’t been released yet. In fact, this is actually one of those double commercials we’re seeing more and more of these days–where two or more brands go in together on an ad that gives them both exposure.

That video isn’t quite technically going viral just yet (still under 100,000 views), but I suspect it’s only a matter of time. Especially since this is another Super Bowl spot, and nearly all the Super Bowl spots will see enough views after the game to qualify as viral hits.

The ad doesn’t really seem to have a point to make, other than to keep the Chevy Camaro and Transformers 3 fresh on your mind. But I love how they play with expectations. You can always gain some extra viral traction by pulling the rug out from under your audience–setting them up to expect one thing (cheesy car commercial) and then surprising them with something else (transforming robot car).

Viral Veterans Showing How It’s Done

There were two hit videos this week from creators I’d call veterans… godfathers of the viral world, each with many hits to their name. And both found success by sticking to what they do best, which is a concept too many creators stray from.

First up, Improv Everywhere. Man, do I love these guys. One of the earliest organized flash mob groups, Improv Everywhere is all about the social experiment. Put people in scenarios that are familiar-but-strange, and film what happens. Their ideas are so good, the results are almost always gold. In “Worst Ice Skater Ever?” they have a little fun with the crowd at a public skating rink in New York:

I’m genuinely surprised there aren’t more groups out there trying to make these kinds of videos. They’re almost always entertaining, and the formula shows no signs of wearing out its welcome.

Another veteran of the viral scene is the remix group known as The Gregory Brothers—they’re the guys that Auto-Tune everything and make stars out of people like Antoine Dodson. This time, they’ve Auto-Tuned the President’s State of the Union address:

What I really like about this video is how timely it is.  The subject is the State of the Union, which happened very recently, and the song is parodying a current pop song. Their act—manipulating audio into songs via Auto-Tune—may not be new, but the Gregory Brothers are able to stay popular by staying current.

Lip-Sync Master Is Future Viral Veteran

I’ve covered YouTube lip-sync sensation Keenan Cahill’s videos before in this column. Specifically, I wrote about the video he made with rapper 50 Cent, which now has over 21 million views. This week he hit viral gold again, with a lip-sync collaboration co-starring music producer David Guetta. Barely a week old, this video already has over 12 million views:

Cahill’s YouTube channel is barely more than a year old, and he has 300,000 subscribers. His videos have over 173 million views–at about 50 videos total, that’s more than 3 million views per video. Quick show of hands… how many of you would love to have 3 million views per video? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

The astounding thing about Cahill’s success is how simple his videos are: it’s just a built-in webcam and him… either singing along to a song or lip-syncing it. That’s it.

So why do his videos get so many views? Easy: enthusiasm. Just watch that clip above and tell me you don’t see the infectious enthusiasm this kid has for music. The facial expressions, the gestures… he’s more into his lip-syncing than most platinum-selling artists are when they perform their biggest hits. He’s having a ball and loving it.

Be genuine, because audiences can tell when you’re faking. Cahill is clearly not faking the fun he’s having, and that rubs off on viewers in a way that lets them share the joy. I’m not sure it’s possible to watch a video like this without smiling.

Honorable Mention


I swear I could easily start a spin-off of this column solely devoted to cat videos–the Week’s Best Viral Videos, Cats-Only Edition! But since we’ve featured so many cat and pet videos in the main column lately, I decided to give the non-animal-lovers a break this week and keep the kitties in the Honorable Mention section (though these are no less funny/cute/adorable than usual):

No Cats

There were plenty of other great clips this week as well, many of them cat-free. Here are a few more of my favorites: