Social Media and the Viral Video: An Epic Love Story

July 29th, 2014   |  

How does a marketer get his product or service to stand out from the crowd in an exciting or compelling new way?

Can social media be used as a corporate makeover, altering the way people perceive it?   If so, what can a marketer do in social media?

The answers to these tough questions can be answered with two simple words: branded video.

Since everyone loves a good story, “branded videos” can be a marketer’s dream. If the video is creative, entertaining, or humorous, it can become “viral,” meaning that the video will be exponentially shared through the Internet, typically through social media sites and email. Although “views and shares” do not always infer short term sales, the umpteen “views and shares” do translate to greater audience reach…and the more people reached, leads to greater brand awareness.  Brand awareness can infer…(you get the idea).

The good news is that the marketer only needs to pay for the cost of producing the video. Once the video hits the Internet and consumers share it because of its high entertainment value, there are no further costs.  The video works like the best ever, word-of-mouth advertising, and companies can enjoy the increased public awareness, or take pride in their new or improved reputation.

Although many brands bank on using humor to create a compelling video, some companies, like Volvo, go to the other extreme and tell a dramatic story. In 2013, Volvo wanted to demonstrate the stability and precision of its “Dynamic Steering” on its line-up of construction trucks. They hired Jean-Claude Van Damme, the Belgian actor and director best known for his martial arts action films, to perform an “epic split” between two Volvo GlobeTrotter Trucks. Once you see this video, you will never forget it. Over 74 million people can’t forget it either. Watch it here:

The Epic Split Feat (1:16) featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme

Clearly, it was very important to Volvo to show the world how innovative yet robust their trucks were.   A 15-second commercial was not going to do it. A 30-second radio ad was not going to do it either. Even a gorgeous print ad in Time Magazine was probably not going to have the same effect as this video.
Volvo’s video has the right mix of elements that made it spark like wild fire on the Internet.  Maybe it was the ethereal voice of Enya and her hauntingly beautiful music…or the simplicity of the empty highway and horizon…or the brazened boldness of Volvo’s new trucks driving together in quiet, perfect precision… or perhaps it was the handsome Van Damme looking both stoic and sexy as he bizarrely straddles two moving trucks while his voice-over tells a quiet story about strength.

The amalgamation of these provocative elements translated to a viral video, catapulting Volvo’s trucks to rock star status. Volvo trucks may never be looked at the same.

Even the president of Volvo Trucks, Claes Nilsson, got in the action, and made his own video. Titled simply “the hook,” Nilsson performed his own stunt with a Volvo FMX Truck (no offense, but the feat was not as spell-binding as Van Damme’s!).

Hollywood heartthrob, Channing Tatum, while on the set of his comedy-action film “21 Jump Street” (Sony Pictures), wanted to poke fun at the Van Damme/Volvo video. Instead of dangerously straddling monolithic trucks on a highway in Spain, Tatum straddles food carts being pushed by caterers on the set of his movie. The last minute of the video shows Channing lying on the ground, cupping his crotch while swearing; obviously having fallen due to the gross ineptitude of his cart-pushers. The voice-over is similar in tone and seriousness, but the words are different. Clearly, these viral videos have different intentions. One is a famous goof ball having fun, and the other is a visual masterpiece that demonstrates a brand’s technological precision in steering made possible by a famous martial artist. Mimicry – humorous or satiric – continues the momentum of the original. Even if a person sees the Tatum parody, chances are they will want to view the original one that inspired it.

Today’s brands recognize the need to connect with their audience in a meaningful way. Both brand and viewer get something out of this video connection. The brand gets to tell their story in a creative way, and the viewer is so dazzled they hit “share,” “embed,” “email,” and “replay”  over and over again. It’s the perfect marketing relationship.

Are you curious about taking a risk with your brand? Let Media Genesis help your business create a video that can be more experimental than TV or print and help propel your brand forward. A video can tell or retell your story in a provocative new way!

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