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Going Viral

April 23, 2019

 

 

Back in the day, in the course of my initial meeting with clients about their video needs, I'd always ask what style would you like for this video, and the number one answer would be something along the lines of, "I don't know, something kind of upbeat, fast-paced, ya know, like MTV."  or "ya know, like Nike."  And then they'd show me the new million dollar Nike commercial.  Of course, this would be followed by revealing a budget roughly $995,550 short of the million dollar Nike spot..  And then I'd ask "what kind of music were you thinking about for this? " 

 "I don't know something kind of upbeat, that the crowd knows, to get things going, maybe start with 'We Will Rock You' from Queen?"   Keep in mind this was way before "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Wayne's World" gave Queen new life.  It was just the only cool song Steve in sales knew. 

 

 

 

 These days,  when I ask clients what they want out of their video, a lot of them say, "it would be cool if it went viral!  How do we make it go viral?"

The short answer is, who knows?  Some might say a very funny cat is a necessary element.  Or a cute baby.  Others would say,  get a Kardashian.  Still others might say, it has to be completely unique, like nothing we've ever seen before.  And while we've seen all of these elements in viral videos, we've seen plenty without a funny cat or Kim K.  There is no magic formula.  As a Boston video production company,  we strive to be the best in a crowded field.  That means great ideas and great production from lots of competition.  But if any video production team tells you they know how to make your video go viral, in the words of rap pioneers Public Enemy, "don't

believe the hype."  

In fact, it's been our experience that most offerings by those who knowingly TRY to go viral often fall the farthest from the viral tree.  Think about it.  Have you ever seen a movie come out with the biggest stars, the biggest production, and the biggest promotional budget completely go bust, or even lose at the box office to some small budget indie film?  It happens.  The big budget blockbuster had all the makings of a winner on paper, but something about it just didn't ring true.  We have a saying about this we often use - "seeing the meeting."  That's when you're watching something and instead of being completely lost in the creative story, you're thinking about the braintrust sitting in a conference room plotting ways to manipulate the audience.  That predictable plot line?  We can totally see the meeting behind that plot.  For instance,  Game of Thrones is hot right now.  With that in mind, start looking at commercials, other tv series, graphic design, costumes, clothing.  Nobody predicted the success of GOT.  But now there's a lot of stuff out there where you can see the meeting.  "Let's put a throne in our Taco Bell commercial!"  Or like Bud Light, "let's center all of our commercials around a fictional king."   Game of Thrones has a legitimate buzz.  But when you can see the meeting, it's usually hype.  Buzz vs Hype.  The Bud Light campaign is a great example of the difference.  Some of the spots are very clever and funny.  But think about what went viral from those ads.  The most viral element wasn't the Game of Thrones style, or the elaborate costumes.  It was something completely different, something out of left field, a new salutation for the ages.  And if you know what I'm talking about, well then to you I say "Dilly Dilly!" 

And that's the point.   Perhaps rather than chasing the viral tail, just try to have a great idea, your own point of view,  and try to execute it faithfully.   For if there's any one element you can count on in a viral video, it's sincerity.  Don't try too hard.  Don't throw a knight's costume on your cat, or yodel in the middle of a Walmart with a cowboy hat, unless that's actually your thing.  Just make sure you light your own match.  Then let the viral winds determine what happens next.  

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