Best Viral videos & event tech ideas

The world has changed. Conspicuous consumption has been replaced by conspicuous frugality. Corporate advertising has been replaced by real reviews from networks and peer groups.

Ads are dead. Brands used to be interruptive. They used to talk. Now they're listening. 90% of a brand's personality is about experience and the remaining 10% is the more old fashioned direct marketing message, namely above the line advertising.

“If you build a great experience, customers will tell each other about that”. Jeff Bezos, Amazon.

Ideally (and statistically), your brand needs to be thought about sixty times each week, then you've reached saturation point, the holy-grail. 70% of this is via authentic word of mouth and experience-led content is now the marketing. The Events sector is the fastest growing sector within marketing; Experiential marketing is big business. 

It's all about an immersive brand experience and those that can perfect it, win. Apple are a classic example as they have managed to make their store an experience in itself. Genius Bar (like Wunderba, but the IOS 7 version!).

It's important to focus on the truth of the brand in question. Proctor & Gamble knocked it out of the park (so to speak) during the Olympics, theming Vinopolis as 'the family home' as part of their global ‘Best Job’ campaign, to dramatic effect. Very simply, the entire theme was about the (P&G) home environment. The very environment that builds and nurtures Gold medal winners...a brand experience, which is bang on target and one that everyone can relate to as it centres around every-day household FMCGs. Here’s a clip from their ‘Best Job’ campaign.

Another great interactive and highly memorable campaign was masterminded by Ogilvy in Munich.  Their ‘Back to vinyl’ campaign was a stroke of (retro) genius. Promoting music has become more and more difficult for record labels in recent years and there are so many demos flying around on a daily basis that it makes it almost impossible to stand out and get noticed, however great the music may be. In fact, just getting the music listened to is a huge challenge in itself, so much so that a huge number of artists are now bypassing the record companies and going straight for YouTube as a direct, authentic route to market. Kontor Records in Germany, however, had different ideas. They came up with an innovative and highly evocative marketing campaign to promote Boris Dlougosch’s new single. “Back to Vinyl”. The campaign’s simple aim was to go back in time and send out vinyl records, but with a ‘new school’ kinda vibe! Basically, just as Amazon almost single handedly revived the Post Office’s fortunes, this campaign stylishly utilized a low-tech/hi-tech hybrid whereby the  recipient receives a letter in the post and opens the envelope which folds into a turntable and their phone (after scanning a QR code) becomes a virtual needle that is used to play and skip tracks. The app also contains links to the band’s online shop and other exclusive content. Check out their video – it’s really cool!

"I want a viral video" is possibly the most common question an agency gets these days. Well, you can try, but 99.9% of the time you'll fail. Fact. Because viral needs to be authentic and almost universally loved (and therefore endorsed) by fans. And it's often unexpected. If it seems contrived in any way whatsoever, it won’t work. It almost needs to appear accidental. By all means pull out the stops and build a highly creative campaign because that has it’s own obvious commercial benefits, but it's no guarantee of viral success. And for true viral success you're talking about YouTube views hitting the million plus mark. That kind of success requires celebrity endorsement and, ironically, a nice big boost from TV – namely Graham Norton or Jonathan Ross. Or, if you're really special, Ellen Degeneres.

Video is very powerful because it's pervasive and persuasive. Vodafone did something particularly clever with video. They made it engaging, interactive, immersive, visually stimulating, sprinkled with a little bit of magic! In essence, they got employees in offices all over the world to film themselves on their smartphones, with one simple directive to pass a Vodafone logo off-screen in a specific direction. In isolation this is a non-dramatic frame. But when all the frames, collected from offices all over the world, are miniaturised, it creates a remarkable effect. The clip seemingly depicts the Vodafone logo being 'passed' around the world, from screen to screen, by smiling employees. Simple yet fascinating and effective on so many levels (excuse the pun!).

A great example of taking video technology even further is the initially baffling airport coffee machine. There are no buttons, yet it administers coffees to those who ‘deserve one’. There are no instructions on the machine either. Hidden cameras demonstrate the confusion it causes when prospective purchasers approach the vending machine. So, how does it work? Why does it suddenly pour a coffee for certain people and not others?  Well, even those it does do a free coffee for often never know. Oh, go on then, I’ll spill the (coffee) beans! The machine has face recognition sensors. When you yawn, it pours you a coffee. Simple. And right on message.

Virgin America’s pre-flight safety video is brilliant. With six million views and counting, it encapsulates everything that the brand stands for. It’s hip, vibrant, cool, slick, professional and, above all, fun! If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is, you’ll never be able to watch a pre-flight safety announcement again without being a little bit disappointed. 

Dollar Shave Club is the original and still one of the best business related viral videos out there. By creating a seemingly off the cuff and authentic free flowing video (and that’s because it really is), they have created a brand virtually overnight.  With twelve million views and counting (in just over a year) this promotional video is hilarious, informative and hugely convincing.  If there was ever a video that you just knew would go viral, this has got to be it.  It’s completely authentic too and that’s the secret. Watch below and check out this interview with Founder (and star of the video) Michael Dudin here. My hero.

Initially, quick wins can be had via Social Media. However, only 12% of companies feel they are using Social Media effectively. Conversely, 88% aren’t. In effect, Social Media is a global focus group and your best customer support line so it’s well worth taking seriously and making a concerted effort to learn how to perfect it. It’s essentially one-on-one marketing on a global scale.

If you want something inclusive and perfect for events (especially in the age of photo-booth mania!), how about wall mounted Instagram hashtag printers? HashtagBox turns your guest’s mobile devices into personal Photo Booths. HashtagBox install a terminal at your venue, which scans the cloud continuously for the Hashtag assigned to your event, printing all the photos taken by the guests with that particular tag in seconds. You can personalize the prints with your logo, brand, slogan or event information. This is a truly brilliant and engaging idea, which involves event guests in a fun, relevant and engaging group activity via their own mobile devices. Awesome. And very simple.

For a more contrived and very carefully thought out production – check out this supernatural coffee shop video prank. It didn’t initially go viral in the way you might expect, but following countless re-posts and re-tweets from influential news sources it gathered significant momentum. This video is notable because when I first shared the clip on Facebook it had approximately 200 youtube views. It’s now clocking more than 48 million!  This is possibly the most ‘contrived’ production I’ve seen, in that it was clearly professionally produced with the explicit intention of going ‘viral’ and it almost didn’t. It just goes to show that you can’t necessarily contrive a viral video. What you can do, of course, is carefully script, produce and film your piece, giving it a good chance – but you still need to market the hell out of it if you can’t bear to leave it to chance!

Global brands like Cisco Systems take things even further.  They stage an annual conference in both the USA and Europe and, right from the start of the experience they set to work on engaging their people.  And social media is right at the heart of it.  Delegates use twitter to vote for their preferred keynote speaker (there’s no expense spared – if they want The Queen, they get the Queen (well perhaps not quite, but you get what I mean!). They also design their conference T-shirt online (and believe me, these T-shirts are collector’s items!). Experiential Agency, George P Johnson, set up shop with their social media centre in the foyer of whichever utterly spectacular venue they choose to stage the conference in and this becomes the hub of all the delegate musings and activity throughout the event. It’s like Twitterfalls R Us and, no matter what Ghostbusters would say, the streams are crossed permanently at this gig!   You can see the Cisco Systems Global Sales Experience (GSX) here.

So, whether it’s an inter-brand experience or and international message, social media is, effectively, one-on-one marketing on a global scale.

But beware, in more old school news, it's still all about the team - those behind the social media musings. You need to tread that thin line between arrogance and humility. Ask yourself this of your team – “Can you be stuck in a lift with them”? If you can’t then get them to step away from the twitter machine. IMMEDIATELY.

And remember, you don't ever forget an experience, good or bad and, chances are, you will share the experience. Unless you're at a proper party. If you remember one of those parties, you weren't really there...!


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***Book your ticket for LiveTECH 2014 here***

Join us at LiveTECH on Thursday 13th February 2014 for invaluable practical advice and strategic direction on integrating digital into your business.

Here’s last year’s LiveTECH video. And here’s a taster of what’s to come this time:

  • Learn from the greatest experiential agency on earth, GPJ.
  • Learn how to turn negatives into positives via social media. (They’re talking about you anyway, so you have to be involved in the conversation!)
  • Learn how high-tech/low-tech hybrid marketing can work for you.
  • Learn how to integrate video – it’s persuasive and pervasive.
  • Learn about the ‘new’ marketing. Personality through technology.

LiveTECH 2013


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