Laptops placed in a blender, dancing cars, rollerblading babies – we all know what these phrases mean, and most probably what the video they refer to was advertising, too. Viral video advertising has taken on a huge impetus over the past few years, with shareable, entertaining content driving the force.
And what feeds viral videos more than anything? Discussion, perhaps a huge worldwide event that potential customers will be talking about across the globe. This year, multinational businesses have been more aware than ever of the power of a football-themed video to boost their sales exponentially in the face of World Cup fever. These advertisements tap into the emotional currency associated with international sports, the excitement and patriotism. They show that viral video marketing is not simply a fad through which to trade your business’ serious reputation for fame; but rather a legitimate way of expanding your brand reach to a worldwide market.
World Cup themed advertisements are, in fact, a case of extremely strategic side-stepping the sponsorship process. Whereas Adidas and Coca Cola each paid Fifa around $100 million dollars to legally embed the World Cup emblems in their campaigns, Nike and Pepsi did not, opting to feature football stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo instead. These non-paying brands have experienced just as much viral success as their paying counterparts, if not more.
Of all of the World Cup adverts circulating at the moment, Nike’s animated masterpiece, “The Last Game” is one of the most popular, with over 56 million YouTube views, simply due to its remarkable storytelling and emotion where discarded footballers take over the World Cup to restore it to greatness. Look closely and you’ll notice every character wearing a subtle Nike swoosh. Another calculated sponsorship side-step is VW’s “Gooooooooolf” World Cup advert managed to cut corners around the official car sponsor Hyundai by paying ESPN to play its “Gooooooooolf” celebration videos when a goal is scored. Different Golf GTIs sporting the national colours of the team that scored are seen driving across the pitch whilst the words “gooooal”, usually shouted in the background, are replaced with “Gooooooooolf!”.
Other World Cup themed adverts take a less cinematic and more public-service approach, such as Google Search’s “Tiki Taka”, in which a confused football fan sneaks to the kitchen to ask his phone what his friends are talking about during a match. This video has gained almost a million views on YouTube in only two weeks. Some adverts, on the other hand, take a rather more dramatic approach, such as Dr Dre’s “The Game Before the Game” videos, an emotional tale of how his new Beats headphones help footballers prepare themselves for matches. Although some have criticised this viral as overly sensationalised, it has certainly created discussion, and that is what has made it so successful with over 19 million YouTube hits.
Some companies such as Samsung took the documentary angle, compiling video clips from previous games and dramatic news footage into a feel-good montage that intends to get the viewer cheering on their team before the games even begin – the only sign of advertising being that the winning team is named “The Galaxy 11” after their smartphone. However, it has over 13 million views on YouTube, so it’s certainly working. McDonald’s “Gol!” video appeals to the everyday viewer, showing shots of normal people attempting trick shots such as a woman doing keepy-uppies in high heels. It’s the stuff of non-commercial virals, and supplies humour and entertainment whilst speaking to the wannabe footballer in many of the World Cup’s viewers. As with many McDonald’s adverts, you don’t quite understand what it’s advertising – or even know you’re watching an advert – until the very end. This video has more than 5 million YouTube views and several re-uploads by other users.
So why do these World Cup obsessed advertisements work? Why exactly do viral videos market products and services so impressively? Many marketing specialists refer to the success of viral advertising within an acronym known as ‘STEPS’. These five main features of viral marketing account for the rapid and impressive growth a viral video can gain.
Social currency – a successful viral video must tap into something that society as a whole are aware of and likely to be talking about. The World Cup is a perfect example of why viral adverts work so well under conditions of huge social attention into one area. If an advert utilises a theme which is part of the national, or even international, consciousness, it will gain word-of-mouth growth, as viewers will friends about it in person, or share it online.
Triggers in the environment are another important aspect of viral marketing. In a fast-paced technological age, there is always another advert vying for a potential customer’s attention, not to mention the distractions of every-day life. What makes viewers return to viral videos and remember to share or discuss them is the presence of environmental triggers surrounding them to remind them of the funny or moving content they watched earlier that week. Hence, the World Cup is the perfect time to embark on a viral marketing campaign, as triggers are almost inescapable.
Emotion – people want to watch things they are connected to, and so an advert connecting to a mutual feeling or concern is always going to be more successful than any other. Whether it be a particularly touching video that viewers will feel compelled to share as it boosted their faith in humanity, a cute clip of a small animal that brightens a boring day or something simply hilarious that they will share without a thought, emotion is more powerful than any other marketing tactic. Of course, the patriotic pride and excitement of the World Cup is an instance of intense emotion for many, and this displayed in a viral video will prompt viewers to relate and consequently share to show themselves willing their country to do well before their next game.
Public – viral videos are built to show and grow, and therefore are fundamentally public. It may seem obvious, but creating a viral campaign that can be viewed and appreciated by all internet users, no matter who or where they are, is incredibly important in ensuring its success. If content is to be shared and gain force on the web it has to be accessible, appropriate to all audiences, and relate to the public sphere in a clear way. Save tackling niche markets for another approach, viral ought to be a tactic aiming to appeal to all. Of course, there are few events so public as the World Cup, a phenomenon that is enjoyed by all ages, genders and cultures across the globe – and that’s why it’s so useful as a marketing platform.
Story – the success of videos such as “The Last Game” lies fundamentally in the provocative story they tell. “The Last Game” depicts animated versions of the world’s favourite footballers, replaced by ‘perfect’ non-emotional clones, the real footballers later hijacking them “to save football”. The story is a feature film in miniature, and is genuinely entertaining as a piece of animation. Creating an engaging story is key, and leading the viewer on a journey where they will feel they have learned something by the end of the clip is a great way to ensure reach and connection. A viral campaign that is truly interesting and dynamic is a guaranteed way to encourage viewers to feel a connection to the brand and go on to associate themselves with it.
It’s called ‘viral’ for a reason – content that is released onto the internet and then reaches customers via their own sharing amongst themselves. It is almost as though the videos multiply themselves across social media platforms like a virus. Viral videos must be creative and entertaining, but once released, require little attention, as the ‘guerrilla’-style content works for itself. This makes them simple, relatively cheap, and effective.
However, creating viral videos requires knowledge, skills and time. For many companies this means the best way of ensuring their video content will be shared across the world is by outsourcing to a professional marketing company. Media Street’s marketers and graphic designers are experienced in creating shareable, engaging content and videos that can boost your company profile on the internet in incredibly powerful ways.
So, perhaps all companies should take a leaf out of these multinational companies’ books and engage in current events in marketing campaigns. Viral videos are certainly a brilliant method of connecting with the interests of potential customers in a manner that can transcend national boundaries, and the World Cup is one such instance of social awareness that we will see being capitalised on more and more by marketing teams in the future.