Sesame Street has had a big year in the world of viral video. They scored a home run with their Grover parody of the Old Spice Guy commercial. Their Katy Perry song/skit went viral over the controversy of the show's censorship. And they also scored another viral hit (600,000+ views) with their smartphone song "There's An App For That." And now Sesame Street is helping lead the charge into interactive online video with their latest creation, "Sink or Float?"
"Sink or Float" is an interactive YouTube experiment that lets kids play a part in the science fun. It's hosted by Cookie Monster and a human friend of his, and is designed to get kids curious about science–specifically, the scientific method. The experiment centers around a fish tank full of water and several objects, and the goal is to determine which objects sink and which objects float. Take a look:
After describing the experiment, Cookie Monster then asks the viewer to pick one of four objects to test by clicking on the video itself. The objects include a rubber ducky, a rubber band ball, a lemon and a lime, and a coconut. The user is delivered to a separate video depending on what choice they make, and they'll see Cookie Monster and his friend drop the item they chose into the tank to see if it floats. When the experiment is done, the viewer is given the option to go back and choose another object to test.
This thing is awesome on so many levels. You guys ought to know by now that I'm a sucker for any video that takes the standard YouTube experience and turns it on its ear. And I just got done talking about how interactive videos would be huge this year. So hopefully you're not surprised to see me praising this effort from Sesame Street. It's more than mindless video entertainment. It gets kids involved by asking them to help direct the video's action. But more importantly, it's actually teaching them something about the scientific method.
They're trying to teach kids to think critically about science–to form hypotheses and then test those theories to find conclusions. It's easy to praise the Grover/Old-Spice spoof, because it's hilarious. But education is where Sesame Street really shines, and this video proves why they've been around for so many years.
I'm thrilled to see this educational staple embracing technology so strongly. Songs about smart phone apps… references to hip Internet marketing campaigns… and now an interactive YouTube educational experience. Don't try and tell me that they're not trying to adapt to the times.
And don't even start with suggesting that this isn't technically an advertisement. Yes it is. It's an ad, but it's also educational… and entertaining. It's all those things. At the risk of stating the obvious: online video is not simply video on a website. It can be so much more, and we've only just begun to discover the possibilities. But the next time someone tells me that viral video is useless for brands, I'm going to show them this… and then smack them over the head.