Going for viral, and just getting ill

22 Jun

[by Todd] I propose to ban the phrase "viral video" from any brainstorming session that occurs at an agency of more than 10 people. Trust me guys, it’s for your own good.

Anything produced by an agency will, by definition, have to pass under the review of creative directors, executive creative directors, account directors, account planners, clients, and eventually the client’s lawyers. What emerges is ultimately  uncool, made even more so by the desperate attempt to make it look like you didn’t care.

But don’t take this just as a rip by a frustrated interactive guy. Instead enjoy the cautionary tale of two writers at Entertainment Weekly.

"I Want to Be A Viral Video Star" builds an iron-clad case for letting the amateurs handle creating and spreading viral videos. Jason Adams and Scott Brown should have been guaranteed success, after all they had the advice of experts ranging from comedy writers to the heads of the video services.

But it never happened. They even enlisted the help of a marketing firm that "specializes" in viral. When it was all said and done, they had only 7,000 views of their film entitled, alternately, Cheater/Who’s Leg Is This?

Along the way they did develop a couple great rules for those intent on working hard to make a video look like it was an afterthought.

  • Have a hook, and make sure it’s in the first 10 to 15 seconds.
  • ”If you’re going to make a fake viral video that’s made to look low-budget, make it with no budget.”
  • Agencies and clients can’t disregard copyright laws like 14-year-olds armed with dad’s camera.
  • Mannequins, even those with MySpace pages, don’t assure success.

The guys pick apart their failure quite well. But nothing else sums up their shortcomings, along with those of so many other efforts, as pointedly as a comment from Ricky Van Veen at

”I don’t think the video you made has viral
potential… It
reeks of effort.”

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