The Week’s Best Viral Videos & Marketing Lessons – Parodies & Heartwarmers

The Week’s Best Viral Videos & Marketing Lessons – Parodies & Heartwarmers

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Another week is in the books (well, almost), so it’s time to sit back, enjoy that morning coffee, and watch some of the most popular viral videos of the week. As usual, we have entries from savvy brands as well as clueless amateurs, which is sort of why I like online video so much: the big boys have to play in the same sandbox as the little guys. Ultimately, great content wins out.


Parody is a genre of comedy almost as old as comedy itself. As long as humans have been acting strangely there have been other humans ready to come in behind them and mock them. Parody is also a fantastic viral strategy–for brands or individuals–because it typically takes advantage of the popularity of the subject being spoofed, bringing a built-in audience to the new clip.

This week we saw several great parodies go viral, like this Great Farm video from MikeDiva that has some fun with the recent State Farm commercials:

It’s only my opinion, but the best parodies are short, sweet, and to the point. They get in, make their best joke or two, and get right back out… just like this Great Farm piece does. A great parody also has attention to detail; notice how the Great Farm spot ends with a musical jingle that is very similar to the real State Farm jingle, but is also slightly different.

Good parody walks that fine line between looking like the thing you’re spoofing, while also making fun of it. It’s not easy.

Apple is a frequent target of parody video creators. Part of the reason is their sheer size–they’re one of the largest, most recognizable brands on the planet. They’re also a bit divisive, having both a passionate fan base and a surprisingly persistent group of detractors (fanboys versus haters, I guess). I wrote briefly last month in an article about the newest iPad 2 commercials (which I liked) that Apple’s latest iPhone ad campaign felt a little smarmy, particularly when the narrator says, “If you don’t have an iPhone… well, you don’t have an iPhone.

And this week saw the rapid rise of a video whose creator feels the same way. (WARNING–at least one big swear word in this video):

That YouTube channel actually has several good Apple commercial parodies, including this one that parallels the brand new iPad 2 campaign:

Sometimes parody isn’t aimed at any one specific target, but rather at a wider trend or concept. Such is the case with Barats & Bereta’s game of H-O-R-S-E, which pokes fun at all things “extreme.” (Another WARNING: probably rated PG-13 with some of the slightly violent imagery):

Great parody does two important things that almost all viral audiences like: references current events and trends, and makes them laugh. That’s not a guarantee of success, but it’s a proven formula that more and more video creators are choosing to follow.

Animal Antics

You didn’t think I’d let a whole week go by without highlighting some great animal-related clips, did you?

Cats are clearly at the top of the viral video food chain for animals, and this week was no different. We saw a mean-looking cat that forces his owner to do his bidding:

We also saw a kitten who is both brave and terrified in the face of his new enemy, a tennis ball:

Brands are even getting in on the cute-cat-video action, like this piece from the Humane Society:

Of course, there are great animal videos that are entirely cat-free as well. Like the world’s laziest dog, who can’t be bothered to use his legs to go down the stairs:

Then there’s this dog, who earns points for fetch-playing enthusiasm, but then loses those points right back by mistaking a statue for a human being:

Heartwarming Stories

The Internet loves a good heartwarming story, almost as much as they love scandal and controversy. So it’s always good to see a few feel-good videos hit the viral big time. Like the story of the rehabilitated baby seal, whose release back into the wild put smiles on at least 300,000 faces:

Another huge recording artist had a feel-good video hit this week, and it’s Taylor Swift. I’m told she’s a fairly popular singer. Her latest music video, released this week on Vimeo, is a catchy anthem that stands up for kids all over the world who have been bullied or picked on in their lives:

Perhaps the most popular feel-good video of the week is from the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund in Canada, and it has as much tear-jerking as it does feel-gooding, so be warned. It’s a fantastic piece that uses real human emotion to hammer home its point:

Reality Vids

Every week there are viral hits that sort of defy categorization, or even explanation sometimes. Yet they’re still compelling, and wholly shareable little slices of real life. Like the clip of the Russian airliner wobbling in the sky (faint-hearted air travelers beware, this will give you nightmares):

Yeah, remind me to drive everywhere from now on.

In Israel, for Holocaust Remembrance Day, they run a solid-tone siren. And pretty much everyone stops what they’re doing to take a moment of silence. It’s one thing to read that… it’s another entirely to see it in action:

What do you do when your living space is ridiculously small? Well, if you’re the star of our next clip, you go MacGyver on the whole apartment and turn it into one of the most versatile homes I’ve ever seen:

My Favorite Viral Videos Of The Week

Every week I find one or two videos that I just keep going back to over and over because they’re so entertaining for me. This week, I have Pomplamoose Music to thank for such enjoyable repeat viewing, with their awesome cover of the Angry Birds theme song:

I also really enjoyed Kung Fooled, a video from Wong Productions that pokes fun at some of the more common racial stereotypes–oh, and it guest-stars FreddieW, which is always a plus:

Honorable Mention

Even though this column keeps expanding by the week, I always have leftover videos that don’t make the list. So I like to leave you with a little bonus content, just in case you’re still not ready to start your work day:


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