Hey everyone. I'm back for another Friday look at some of the week's most shared and viewed viral hits. This week we have some sports, some animals, and SOMETHING ELSE. Let's not waste any more time getting to our case studies.
I Can't Believe What I Just Saw
I've watched a lot of baseball. It was the only sport I played and watched religiously for nearly 10 years as a kid. I've seen a lot of crazy plays in my life. Especially in recent weeks, with videos like this one and this one. I'm a sucker for a good viral sports video of incredible feats, just like the rest of the online world, apparently.
Here we have a college player—not a pro—doing something I think every kid that ever played baseball dreamed of doing but never had the courage to actually try. Mostly because it has no chance of working. Usually:
There is no question as to why a video like this goes viral. It is the ultimate unbelievable moment in sports. A true "Did I just see that?" moment. I would have to imagine the greatness of the play comes across even to non-baseball-fans. That's just the perfect combination of athletic ability, quick-thinking, and cockiness. Just awesome. Sports fans alone will continue to rocket this video's popularity—it's already appeared on Yahoo's home page.
What made it work? The fact that nothing could stop it from working. I'm sure there have been people who have tried this sort of thing before. Maybe, in a time before online video, there were great plays like this that simply never had a chance to be immortalized on film. Or maybe most of the people who tried it got tagged out or couldn't leap high enough to jump over a grown man. I've definitely never heard of anything like this happening, and I can't be alone. If this sort of thing was common, I don't think the video would be such a must-share. Feats of physical or mental abilities that are hard to believe even after being witnessed will almost always trump the competition and go on to greatness.
Last week, we discussed the super hit of the cat playing with the iPad. The day after this video hit, it was followed by a similar video—this time of a dog being introduced to the iPad. Same story, different characters. The dog doesn't really play and interact with it like the cat does. He just goes through different stages of reaction to the gadget. It's pretty cute, I guess:
I do like animal videos. But it's just not quite the same amount of fun for me. Even if the poor dog owner actually shot his video first, the cat clip was climbing the charts by the time the Corgi came online. It's not exactly a rip-off, but it's hardly the original.
But even if we don't particularly find a viral video original—or even entertaining at all—that doesn't negate the fact that it still went viral, which generally means that many people found it worth sharing. I'm inclined to think the dog owner saw the cat video first, and then made his own. Good for him. I've said it before: it's a perfectly valid viral strategy to simply find something that got incredibly popular and then copy it. Put your own little twist on it if you can. If not… you're still in good shape. People love trends… that's part of why we're stuck with Internet memes. I'm sure there will be more animals starring on YouTube with their own "meet the iPad" film. If I had a reason to own an iPad, I'd certainly let my cat have at it and film whatever happens.
What will make a video such as this succeed or fail is whether or not the animal has an interesting or unusual response to a touch-screen tablet computer. As long as the animals are entertaining… there will probably still be an audience for more. Do you have an iguana, rabbit, or bird? And an iPad? There's your homework.
As much as possible, I tend to stay away from viral videos with major brand power behind them when writing this Round Up column. Often times, it can be relatively easy for them to gain traction and go viral—at least compared to an unknown person's viral effort. It all comes down to money… and brand loyalty.
But every so often, a viral video from a big brand comes along that is so well made, that I can forgive its built-in head start. Our third and final example this week is just such a video. A couple of hip, young DJ's take some of the latest popular athletic shoes, and create instruments out of them, before eventually creating an entire song.
Take a look:
So this is clearly from Nike, and it looks like they spent a good deal of money on the spot—the production values are outstanding. The piece is clever, well performed, humorous, and memorable.
This is very reminiscent of the Jeep Cherokee that got turned into a turntable by some enterprising teenagers. Except, in their example, they were using real sounds the Jeep actually made. Here, Nike has just overdubbed beats and noises to the images of men twisting tennis shoes.
The entertainment value, though, is just as high—if not higher.
Half a million views in just over a week is not too shabby. Has anyone seen a version of this ad on television? I haven't yet, and I watch a lot of TV. But the long form nature of this piece makes it feel like TV was a secondary concern, if they even thought of it at all. This was intended to run online, where videos of two or three minute lengths are able to thrive.
This video works because it does several things right. The performers are energetic and enthusiastic. The concept is clever and unique. The execution of the concept is spot-on. Another reason major brands have a higher rate of viral success is simply that they've got more experience… they've tried and failed (and tried-and-succeeded) more times than most of us have even tried at all. Which is a great reason to get out there and start trying, regardless of success or failure, but just to gain experience.
Tennis shoes have never been advertised on merit. What one does, most of the rest will do. There is very little that makes one shoe brand significantly better than another in terms of the product itself. They're shoes, after all. So the ads tend to be either celebrity endorsement spots or ads intended to simply make you remember the brand. That's the direction Nike is going with this ad, and it's a bit of a home run.
If I had more time and space, I would love to discuss:
- This video of the popular "Green Spandex Men” in Vancouver at the NHL Playoffs
- This video of a wasted guy at the Coachella music festival who cannot figure out his flip flops
- This video of an iPhone running Android
See you next week for another Round Up. Be sure to drop me a line in the comments if you spot a viral success you think we should cover in this column. Have a great weekend!