The leading UK viral marketing videos in the first quarter of 2012 show an interesting mix of big money production and fledgling original successes – and prove that to be a major player in the viral video world doesn't necessarily require a vast budget. The most shared video in the UK of February 2012 (and 5th the previous month) stars David Beckham in tight white pants (just under 80,000 UK shares in February). Made as part of the H&M Beckham Underwear campaign, it follows the traditional school of marketing: choose the right big name endorsement and your product will fly off the shelves. And they don’t get much bigger or more effective than Beckham: he appeals to men and women (usually but not always for different reasons), and he appeals to sports fans and followers of fashion alike. A living, breathing super-brand. The ad below also ran at the super bowl:
Lessons from the Top UK Viral Marketing Videos
Online Video: the Great Leveller
However, the second shows the democratizing power of viral video: Ecotricity, a UK utility company providing gas and electricity from Green sources, achieved over 51,000 shares in February alone. It launched a campaign named ‘Dump The Big Six’, showing fossil fuel power sources being destroyed.
Why is this remarkable? Because Ecotricity is a relatively new, small, dividend-free business which has achieved a greater viral success than any of its rivals: the aforementioned ‘Big Six’ UK energy companies that dominate the market. Its behemoth competitors make billions in annual profits and have vast, sophisticated PR machines at their disposal, with a mass of TV advertising and events sponsorship.
Yet these giants couldn’t match Ecotricity, and their anthropomorphic cooling tower characters, in terms of viral success.
The only problem with the video? You can’t help feeling sorry for the lovable, cute and startled looking cooling towers and chimneys as they crumble and fall. Next time, make ‘em more evil, guys!
Viewer Engagement is a Must
Another big money viral marketing video was on top, with the Game of Thrones season two teaser being shared 129,000 times during January. But again, the second place was taken not by a mega-corp, but by UK charity the British Heart Foundation. Their policy of bringing in hardman actor and ex-footballer Vinnie Jones for their ‘Hard and Fast’ campaign was another master-stroke: an established figure who appeals to a demographic (mainly young, sports-focused males) who might not otherwise pay much attention to a charity advertisement.
The BHF campaign had another plus – viewer engagement: the advertisement was interactive, allowing the user to ‘push’ Vinnie.
This month a campaign launched in the UK, as part of an umbrella international campaign, entitled ‘Ride to Work Day’. Comprising a video promotion, plus FaceBook and Twitter presence and live events, this campaign encourages commuters to invest in motorcycles and scooters as an alternative to cars. The video has viralled because of the quirky, humorous intro and the unexpected twist. Check it out here; http://ridetoworkday.co.uk/
Neil Garret of Ossian.TV said that the impact of this video grew and grew;
"It kick started in the biking community via forums and magazines”, and even though it was “UK centric, it got people talking all around the world”.
Neil also says it was a bold move for the Motorcyle Industry Assocation, www.mcia.co.uk/ and all the big brands who gave backing to the project;
“It was potentially a big risk for them. But the view count has more than proved it was a risk worth taking: the YouTube likes have dwarfed the dislikes."
It now takes central position as the flagship video amongst many others on Ride To Work Day’s YouTube channel.
Ossian took a great idea then followed up with an entertaining, amusing video. It is good quality and well made, although you can still tell that the success easily outweighed the production cost.
Make it Topical
Grabbing a topical theme is another means of generating a successful viral. The Guardian newspaper’s viral video chart, complied by Unruly Media, places the London Borough of Newham at poll position. Again, this is not a giant corporation but a Local Authority, which lacks the multi-million pound ad budget of corporate, but has managed to make a relatively simple, straightforward video a success via topicality: the time lapse video shows a panoramic construction of the London Olympic park, sub-headed “Nine years of incredible change captured in just 107 seconds”. It is interesting, compelling to watch, and places the borough’s Local Authority firmly at the centre of the Olympic buzz.
One of the latest YouTube announcements illustrates how pressing it is for all companies, public or private, multi-national or sole trader, to have an online video presence. On May 21st the video upload giant turned 7, and announced that 72 hours of video is being uploaded per minute. Consider that for a second: 72 Hours per minute.
So it’s not just a case of making a video, but making one that stands out amongst the melee and will, hopefully, be shared. What is required is an original idea, a fun/interesting script and if possible (as in Newham Borough’s case) an excellent sense of trends and topicality. This can be done on a limited budget. And it can still trounce the mega-spending big boys.
And you can learn from their mistakes. Telecoms giant Vodafone suffered an embarrassing backlash when its agency JWT released a video suggesting Vodafone had helped inspire the Egypt’s January revolution. The film quickly went viral, but so did the backlash...
So if your business is trying to make a viral video, ‘topical’ is great – just make sure it’s done tactfully...