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August 29, 2010

Rockstars Can Teach Us a Thing or Two About “Going Viral”

Earlier this summer, my esteemed colleague Matt Rainone shared his thoughts on ways that content can go viral online. The content he specifically referred to was related to memes – organic user-generated content that happens to catch on and gets rapidly spread across users online. On the other end of the viral video spectrum is manufactured content, created by brands with the specific goal of “going viral”. One such example of this is something that we all grew up with – the music video.

As the music industry has been turned on its head over the past decade and a half, the music video has become even more of a critical element to an artist’s promotional repertoire. While music videos have moved largely from TV rotation to online, the dynamic for how we watch music videos has changed as well. We no longer have to endure brutal cable countdown shows (remember TRL? guuhh) for the hottest videos; instead, we can watch virtually anything on-demand. Therefore, the need to create unique, buzz-worthy music videos is as important as ever. Many brands today share a similar goal with their own unique content (and often, what sounds appealing to a brand manager does not nearly sound as appealing to a consumer). What can we learn from music videos that will allow marketers to create better content?

Now of course Lady Gaga is going to get a ton of traffic for any video that she releases, regardless of what the actual video contains. I’m fully expecting the next video to be her dressed as an overgrown baby, covered in cows’ blood and dancing in a midnight graveyard surrounded by eunuchs. Seriously, I swear some of her videos are filmed inside my night terrors. But other videos have been hugely successful that haven’t been driven by that same caliber of star power. Here are three examples of great videos that have become big hits on the tubes:

1.) Cee-Lo – F*** You

Oh! Profanity!

Is it the catchy retro hook? The easy-to-follow typography? The use of the f-bomb? Probably all three. This video is a great mix of an amazingly simple but effective creative direction paired with an incredibly catchy song and a chorus that is decidedly radio unfriendly. The video was posted August 19th and within one week had nearly 3 million views.

Key Takeaway: Simpler can be better. Shock-content does have talk value.

2.) Bed Intruder Song – Antione Dodson and The Gregory Brothers

Clearly, sexual assault is a not a laughing matter and luckily nobody was hurt during this incident.

When Antoine Dodson was interviewed by WAFF in Huntsville, AL after an assault on his sister, he was naturally upset and provided a very animated response to the reporter. That first video, in and of itself, was hugely popular and made its way around the Internet. But when Autotune the News got a hold of it, they turned it into Internet gold.

The result has been a single that is currently ranked #44 on iTunes. Mr. Dodson has also enjoyed microcelebrity status and is currently selling merchandise and fundraising to move his family to a better neighborhood. Preferably one where kids, wives and husbands don’t need to be hidden.

Some may recognize that the Bed Intruder video was similar to DJ Steve Porter’s Press Hop videos (Press Hop 1, Press Hop 2 that took classic moments from sports press conferences, chopped and remixed them together in a similar fashion.

Key Takeaway: Quality ingredients make a quality product. Both instances of remixes reused content that was already very popular with audiences (copyright infringements notwithstanding).

3.) OK Go – This Too Shall Pass

This may have taken the better part of a long afternoon to build…

The thought of building a four-minute-long Rube Goldberg is enough to give me a slight migraine (luckily we have an in-house production team!). Now imagine filming it in a single take. Sheesh. Obviously, the appeal here is the astonishment of the scope of planning and execution that is involved. I’m willing to bet that 16,261,591 viewers probably agree.

This isn’t OK Go’s first trip to the rodeo either, you may remember they had another killer video with Here It Goes Again, another great single-take video from 2006 which has net over 52.3 million views.

Key Takeaway: Creating compelling content is not an easy task. Sometimes it’s the most difficult road (both in time and cost) that will yield the best results.

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  • Greg Faucher

    Autotune makes everything better (except T-Pain and music in general). George Brett’s candid video of talking about his unfortunate bowel experience was funny enough, but once autotune was involved it was significantly better. AMP should think about releasing autotuned audio press releases…its the future.

  • Matt

    Another viral hit from OK Go… and this one has puppies!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHlJODYBLKs

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