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Date: January 31st, 2012
Category: Film & TV

“We’d like to make a Viral Video please”

Client: “We’d like to make a Viral Video please”

Would you? I’ve lost count of the number of times over the last few years that a company has phoned us and proudly asked if we could help them to create a viral video for their brand.

We research their product, we research their audience, we brainstorm ideas, we argue, we laugh, we refine and narrow down our ideas into 3 or 4 routes that will work. 3 or 4 ways of producing something that the target audience will love and will be sure to share online and spread like wildfire to the masses.

The problem comes when the client then realises that the ideas go too far. “We can’t show our boss this, he’ll never go for it!” “Our brand can’t be associated with that! Far too risky! Can we tone it down?” …Oh, so you didn’t want a viral, you wanted an ad, is that right? “No, we want a viral, we want it to go massive!”

So we brainstorm again, we argue about how ‘viral’ something is, we laugh, we refine and narrow it down to a couple of further ideas, which could still be good enough, still funny enough to at least make an impact within their industry if nothing else.

“These are great! We’ll show it to our boss and let you know if we get the go ahead”. Great news, or so we think. But the boss has other ideas. “There’s not enough of the product in there, can we add in a packshot at the end?” “Can we add a voiceover explaining the benefits of the product?” “Can we put bullet points at the start and end to highlight the key features?”

You want an ad.

This happens a lot, and of course, we can make ads, we make great ads, but a great ad does not a viral make.

So, if you are a brand, looking for a company to make a viral video, ask yourself if you really are prepared to go the whole way and really make a viral. Ask yourself if you can go out on a limb to produce something really funny, or clever, or disruptive, or preferably all three. Viral isn’t right for every brand, but it’s certainly true that a well made viral rarely harms a brand image as much as nervous brand managers think it might.

If your aim is to show your customers what your product can do, how it can help them, whilst clearly showing the product, covering all the features and benefits, and finally have to demonstrate to your superiors how each feature is clearly shown to the viewer throughout..  then you want an ad.

If you want people to talk about your brand, and you want to minimise media spend by encouraging them to spread your message for free, then you need a viral.

Obviously, it’s not always black and white; there are indeed many shades of grey. Sometimes an ad becomes a viral, and sometimes a viral gets re-made into an ad, but shades of grey are not what makes things viral, it’s the black and white that gets shared.

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