There's little doubt that compared to their counterparts in the USA, most UK corporations have been relatively slow when it comes to embracing and utilizing well-made viral video as a marketing strategy. However, I believe that the recent acquisition of UK viral video producers ST16 by mainstream corporate video producers, Cheerful Scout, is a sign that there's a change in attitude towards viral in Britain’s corporate boardrooms, who now realize they are missing out on the action.
UK Viral Video Producers & Corporate Video Producers Join Forces
Aeorema Ltd owned Cheerful Scout, is a big league player with an IVCA Gold Award 2011 and three 2010 NFY World Gold Medals. They boast a range of blue chip clients including Tesco, Aviva, Allianz, Barclays Bank and BAA, as well as major government agencies: the National Health Service and HM Revenue & Customs. "Our job is always to find the best way to make your audience sit up and take notice - and ultimately remember” is their motto.
If it's memorable campaigns Cheerful Scout aim for, then ST16, with their own Gold IVCA and New York Film Festival award, have delivered attention grabbing campaigns for Road Safety Analysis Ltd and the NHS.
Crash-Proof Motorcycle - Road Safety Analysis Ltd
In the first week of it's launch, the video shot to the No.1 globally most discussed video on YouTube in the Autos and Vehicle category. More importantly, unique visitors to their training site increased from ~10K/yr to ~10K/mo and Road Safety Analysis Ltd had to ramp up resources to offer more courses in order to match the demand generated. You can read more about the campaign and its results here.
Vampire Dentist - NHS
[Video removed from YouTube]
The campaign attracted more than 150K views in 2 weeks and topped the online charts including reaching number two in the Guardian's viral video chart. Beyond just views - the number of 18-24 yr-olds who visited a local dentist in Northampton-shire increased by >50% in the weeks following the campaign. You can read more about the campaign and its results here.
In an exclusive interview with ST16, Director Jeremy Stinton said,
"One of the logical elements of the acquisition was for us to pitch our expertise to existing clients of Cheerful Scout, and this has been successful within just the first two weeks, with at least five large corporate clients already looking to start a viral campaign for the first time."
The UK's Viral Video Marketing Track Record
Corporate UK is not completely without a successful track record in online viral marketing. Rebel Virals’ piece for Microsoft plays on the British love of self-deprecation (with the added bonus of poking fun at Americans). The message from Microsoft: ‘community collaboration needn't be painful’ is clear.
But perhaps it's the attitude gently mocked in this production, of a reluctance to embrace change and pursue rapid innovation, which is behind the UK’s relatively slow take up of online viral video marketing?
Certainly UK marketing executives watching viral activity across the pond could not have missed the brand resurrecting viral result by Old Spice or even the career resurrection of Matthew Broderick’s Bueller-referencing 2012 super bowl viral commercial for Honda.
Is the UK Poised to Embrace the Video Gold Rush in 2012
Neil Garrett of UK viral production company Ossian.tv supports this theory, stating that“
UK corporates have traditionally seen this as a 'risky' strategy and 2011 was relatively slow for all viral producers in the UK, but 2012 has come back with a vengeance for us, with Ossian TV having two major corporate virals in production.”
ST16's Jeremy Stinton confirms this trend,
"The corporate demand for quality online social video has exploded in the UK recently and they are realizing that successful viral video campaigns can deliver the 'best bang for their buck' when compared with a traditional TV spend. We've proved this hands down."
What's Next for Viral Video Marketing in the UK?
Cheerful Scout intrinsically know what many UK corporations are waking up to: that quality viral is fast becoming a central component of corporate marketing. The challenge for the UK corporate execs and marketing managers is not in deciding whether to embrace viral video, but how quickly they can and how well it can be done. All three of the viral producers I have referenced here have more than enough talent and skill to deliver culturally appropriate virals for the UK market.