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Advertising Gone Viral: What’s behind the strategy of creating a viral video? December 26, 2009

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According to Advertising Age‘s recent monitoring of viral videos for public campaigns, Evian’s dancing baby commercial has been viewed over 2 million times in the last week, a 79% hike over the previous week. Other notable viral videos include Victoria’s Secret’s popular ad produced by Michael Bay (985,000+ views this week), and GAP’s recent commercial for its “Ready for Holiday Cheer” campaign (586,000+ views this week).

As anybody with an email account knows, videos go “viral” online when they are widely passed around and viewed during a short period of time. For advertisers, viral videos are yet another way to reach certain kinds of consumers. One question has long been asked, though: What kinds of videos go viral? What characteristics do these videos often share? Pete Cashmore, the founder and CEO of Mashable, which is a popular blog about social media, recently argued that there are some clear commonalities for viral videos in general: they are usually “cute,” humorous, and/or extremely emotional, and in many cases focus on something novel.

To see a few of this week’s viral video ads, including those for Evian and Victoria’s Secret, view the following videos:

Discussion Questions:

1.  After viewing the ads above, what might be some other common characteristics of viral videos?

2.  Why has the Evian advertisement (see above) been so successful?

3.  Why has the Victoria’s Secret ad produced by Michael Bay been so successful?

4.  What audience demographics do viral videos target?

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