Mass Appeal, Personality, and Outtakes – Viral Video Round Up

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For the second straight week, there are far too many viral success stories to feature in this column than I have the time or the room for.  That’s why the Honorable Mention section keeps growing every week.  Anyway, some really great stuff this time, so let’s get to it.

Geek Out

This video is a man in what appears to be a living room or a home office, playing a video game on a Formula One simulator.  You know… like those spaceship simulators you used to see in the mall, where you pay $10 and the actual seat you sit in goes up and down and side-to-side, using hydraulics to mimic the action of the vehicle in the video or game?

Well this guy has one that blows that thing out of the water.  With a flat-screen attached, the rig jerks up and over and angles down-then-back-up, all based on what the “driver” does with the car.  It’s tough to explain, but easy to grasp when you see it:

Here’s a list of people who are geeking out over this:

  • Video game fans
  • Racing fans
  • Guys who like gadgets
  • Do-it-yourselfers

While I don’t think this gentleman set out to go viral, he nevertheless demonstrates a fantastic lesson for us:  appeal to multiple audiences.  The broader the audience for your viral video, the greater the chance that the masses will begin forwarding it on to their friends on your behalf.

Of course, another obvious lesson from this video is:  film yourself using a kick-ass Formula One simulator no one has ever seen before.  That would work too… as it has here.

But in all seriousness, the fact that this video is of interest to a pretty wide variety of people is a huge reason it has gone viral and amassed so many views.  When you’re sitting around the  conference room table brainstorming your next viral effort, be sure to stress the ideas that seem to appeal as many different kinds of people as possible—hint, this is why political stuff goes viral so often, because it appeals to both sides:  the side that agrees and the side that wants to tell you you’re wrong.

The Amateur Animation

Every once in a while a video will come along that is every bit as strange as it is entertaining.  “Cycles” is one such video.  The story, as much as it exists, seems to involve a bunch of giant teddy bears invading a beachfront town.  It’s a bit difficult to describe.  There’s some mischief, a little destruction, some pigeons, and a lot of humor.  By the end, it’s pandemonium.

Check it out:

The video is nearing a quarter-of-a-million views after only three days of existence, which is impressive for something that isn’t backed by a major star or an established brand.  Just a guy, with After Effects, putting his creativity to work in a whimsical way.

Do the teddy bears look realistic?  No.  Can you tell its computer animation over the top of video?  Yes.  Do you care?  No, you probably do not.  While he’s got more animation skill than I’ll ever have, the point of a video like this isn’t the film making skills as much as it’s the filmmaker himself (or herself) and his personality.

Which brings me to my lesson.  Surprisingly, the lesson is not “make an animation with teddy bears,” though that may be a perfectly valid strategy.  The lesson is more about letting your personality shine through.  Sometimes I see some of my clients work so hard to be professional and slick—hiring professional camera crews or wearing nicer clothing—that the end product often loses all trace of what made the business unique in the first place… the personality.  Don’t forget that, or you’re giving yourself a significant hurdle to overcome.

The Blooper

Will Americans ever tire of news bloopers?  Probably not.  I know I won’t.  And since the local news is done live, there’s almost no chance of this well drying up in the near future.  The YouTube era isn’t really a great time to be a news professional that makes a mistake.

Today’s sample is titled WVLT Reporter Gordon Boyd Loses It.  And it’s funny.  But it’s also strange.  The video is a section of a local evening news broadcast in Knoxville, TN.

Near the end of a live remote piece, Boyd, thinking the camera has cut back to the studio already, makes an angry face and throws down his notebook.  Check it out:

What makes this extra funny to me is that there’s no clear reason—from the video, at least—as to why he’s so angry.  He does fumble that last line a bit, but I can only guess that this is why he’s so upset.

The best moment of the entire video, though, is the quick cut back to the studio anchor, and his absolutely priceless shocked expression.  I think I could watch that over and over again and not get tired of it.

The easiest lesson is one we’ve covered before in this column:  don’t be afraid to use your outtakes.  Embarrassment happens… sometimes it can be turned into viral gold.  Even stepping outside of the narrow view of “viral video success” for a moment, and the same thing holds true.  We tend to want to hide our embarrassments as much as possible.  If you’re making video with any regularity, I hope you’re not deleting any of it.  Some of the best stuff of your future might come from the worst takes in your past.

So, to sum up… appeal to as many audiences as you can with your viral efforts—don’t shoot yourself in the foot before you begin by having too narrow a target demographic.  Also, let your personality, creativity, and unique you-ness shine through… otherwise there’s almost no point.  And finally, never be afraid to screw up, and be a lot less afraid to let people see that screw up.

Honorable Mention

Other videos that went viral this week that I wish I could include:

1. Baby Goat Runs Through The House

This is by far my favorite thing I’ve seen all week.  I will not apologize for my love of funny animal videos.  This would definitely have been included if it had a few more views (still around 25,000).  Give it a look… you will not be disappointed.  Maybe it’ll explode in the next seven days and I can add it to next week’s round up.

2. Digital Stars Using Real Stars

The Gorillaz released a new music video this week, starring Bruce Willis.  While established bands with major stars in their videos have an unfair head start on viral offerings, it’s worth pointing out that this video broke the record for most views in the first 24 hours.

3. Trailers(it’s hard to give movie studios credit for “going viral”, but it’s impossible to ignore the power of a good trailer):


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