Best Branded Online Video Ad Campaigns: A Trailer & A Hoax

Best Branded Online Video Ad Campaigns: A Trailer & A Hoax

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Brands continue to lead the charge in creativity with online video. They have more money and resources than you and I do, which makes it easier for them to experiment. This week saw several entertaining branded videos, but I wanted to pull out a couple in particular to talk about to help illustrate some trends I’m seeing.

Branded Hoax Videos

Hoax videos used to be for amateurs and amateurs alone–way before the Internet age. I’m thinking specifically about Bigfoot videos or clips of UFO’s. But with the onset of online video, brands have taken notice of how much raw viral power a video has when it begs the question, “Was that real or fake?”

That’s why you’ve seen things like the Head Blade video, or Pepsi’s David Beckham ad. Brands want to get viewers buzzing after seeing a video, and one of the best ways to do it is to walk that fine line between showing something amazing and something impossible.

The latest branded hoax video, from Monster energy drinks and Hardees–I’m assuming both brands are in on the hoax, since both are so prominently displayed in the video. Monster, for their part, is actually an official sponsor of the video’s star, Vaughn Gittin Jr, a professional drifter.

Yes, he’s a professional drifter. He goes all over the world putting on demonstrations of drift-driving–almost always in a Ford Mustang.In the supposedly candid video, Gittin Jr. is doing some drifting in a Hardees drive-through when something goes awry:

Now, I don’t think for a second that this is anything but staged. There is too much front-and-center branding work going on. And I’m not sure why you have a film crew recording your trip through the Hardees drive-through anyway.

But even when a hoax video is obviously a fake, it still usually fools an awful lot of people. And these kind of videos are becoming so prominent and so popular, that a lot of viewers no longer get upset about being fooled… it’s almost like viewers grant some extra good will toward a fake clip that does a good job of being convincing.

Think about how little budget that video had to have. Other than the presence of the driver himself–who I’m guessing got paid to film this–there’s very little cost at all. That’s part of the reason we’re seeing so many brands turn to fake-out videos to help their message spread in a viral way.

Trailer Fake Out

Of course, brands are making hoax videos primarily because of their viral trigger. Videos go viral when they create an emotional reaction in viewers… and when that emotional reaction is surprise or disbelief (or even shock), the share factor seems to be higher.

This week saw a movie trailer released that plays on that element of surprise in the viewer. It starts out like any other romantic comedy trailer, but halfway through, pulls a fake-out of its own to reveal an entirely different movie being advertised. Check it out:

Now, the Muppets are right in my wheelhouse. They were on television when I was a very young child, and they kept putting out movies all through my childhood and into my high school and college years. And now they’re coming back with a new feature film this Thanksgiving. I am, admittedly, biased and excited.

But even a non-Muppet-fan can see the how smart this trailer is to set up the viewer for a surprise. It’s immediately one of the more memorable trailers I’ve ever seen just because of that fact. And judging by how quickly it went over a million views, I assume there are many viewers out there who agree. The Muppets have already proven they have a handle on this viral video thing, so it’s not remotely surprising to see them knock this one out of the park as well.


Brands just want you to remember them, so that hopefully you’ll buy from them when the time is right. What we’re seeing in the ever-changing landscape of online video is that brands have a host of ways to make that happen. But… whatever method they choose, they’re going to need some kind of emotional response on the part of the viewer if they hope to go viral. Hoax videos, or fake-out clips, rely on the element of surprise, which is still one of the strongest emotional triggers for viral activity.


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