Thursday, March 10, 2011

Water spreads viral. Again!

If your boss isn't around or if you're down with a viral, you've probably seen the video clipping called 'Jennifer Aniston goes viral' or 'Jennifer Aniston Sex Tape'. Don't just hit 'Alt+Tab' out of embarrassment. It's only an ad. For a packaged water brand called SmartWater. It shows Jenni Aniston sharing how and why they made the video like it is.

It has been viewed 2,897,953 times in three 3 days it has been on YouTube. My guess is that by now at least a few Social Media Experts would have written about it and maybe even made it part of their New Biz pitches. Since i am not such an expert, i can take the risk of putting forth some simple thoughts.

Three things. First, the guy who is seen lip-syncing at the start, is 'Lip Sync Kid' a.k.a. Keenan Cahill, who already has 338,774 subscribers to his YouTube channel in which he lip syncs famous tracks. His YouTube channel has almost 2 million views and has over ten times more views combined for all videos on his channel. Tapping into an existing viral like his, it seems, was definitely a smart thing to do.

Second is the animals and children parody. The context: the popular belief is that the presence of animals and children in an ad, makes it more enjoyable. What makes it a learning is a Millward Brown perspective...

The Link™ database tells us that the most enjoyable ads are more likely to involve animals, nostalgia, children and well-known music. Celebrities also have their place. However, these are all patterns; there is no magic formula — we have plenty of examples of ads that involved animals and children that were not enjoyed!

The parody is on marketers and advertisers who go by this blindly and force-fit such elements into the communication, sacrificing any intended story. I'm sure ad agencies and clients would have interesting incidents of requests to use animals and kids as props - just to this effect.

Search for the 'Best viral ads' you will come across the third point i want to make: Evian's Roller Coaster Babies. Another ad with babies (and also one that SmartWater takes a dig at). More importantly, it is the second-best viral till date, with 103,867,704 views (since June '09. Source: and belongs to the same category - bottled water.

Just makes me curious are the bottled water brands. It is a category you may not expect great virals on. Not that it is lesser as a category or has less respectful brands, but instead of two cola, telecom, technology or durable brands, we have two bottled water brands. Yes, i have assumed that 'Jen Aniston's Sex Tape' will become one of the biggest virals. (So what if she is looking older?!)

Nobody expects water to induce virals. But then, doesn't every brand on the internet need to act like water - shapeless and free-flowing.