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Branded Viral Videos – We all want one

They are popping up everywhere – on YouTube, on our favorite network stations that we watch, even as we sit on a 747 ready to fly to another state.

I’m talking about branded videos that have gone viral.


Kmart’s “Ship-Your-Pants.”   Honda’s 2012 Superbowl spot “Matthew’s Day off,” featuring Matthew Broderick reprising his role as Ferris Bueller.

It all comes down to the simple fact that viral videos come in all shapes and sizes (umm styles?).  They aren’t just low-quality home shot off the cuff videos of everyday life.  The most shared seem to be high production branded creations.

With the continued movement of ads from print and broadcast to digital and mobile, we are more likely to see them everywhere.  They are embedded in our Facebook feeds, on YouTube, short stories on Instagram, Vine, and now even Snapchat.

A recent research conducted by Vizu concluded that viral video can be highly effective in up’ing the intent to purchase

  • 110% lift in consumers’ intent to purchase the game after discovering and watching the branded videos

  •  Consumers who had been exposed to the campaign were more than twice as likely to want to buy the game as users who were not exposed.

It’s no wonder marketers are spending millions on creating branded video content .


But why are they so effective?


A branded video spreads like little Tommy’s diaper rash, for the same reason a non-branded video goes viral.  They are funny, compelling, interesting, likeable – and well shareable.

Creating a successful video though is more of an art form than it is a science.  One would think that a branded video should engage the viewer with the brand itself in a real way, however people tend to share viral videos (branded and otherwise) because they found something that compels them to share with others.  Sure in the back of the viewer’s mind they will subconsciously seek out the brand they just shared the next time they are in need of purchasing said object or service.  Ultimately though the magic happens simply because of the virability of the video.   The more views and shares a video receives, the more consumers you have reached.

Another upside to digital media is the length of a video.  Digitally branded videos can be as long or as short as necessary, as opposed to a standard 30 or 60 second traditional TV spot.  That however doesn’t stop some ads, such as Budweiser’s Superbowl  “Puppy Love” commercial from going viral once it was aired.

There are no boundaries in terms of how a brand makes their videos memorable, especially if going down the digital path.  They are given more experimental and somewhat risky lead way as opposed to a traditional TV spot.   Take Virgin America’s ad from last year, which was actually a flight safety video.

This fully choreographed video runs at just under 5 minutes long, and puts song and dance to a normally mundane task of showing passengers how to put on a safety belt to where the exit signs are located.   As put in their own words “From the exit doors to the oxygen masks, no seat belt was left unbuckled.”

With no boxes or boundaries to be glued into, brands can use additional techniques to produce something more emotionally compelling, more provocative, more hilariously  funny, more electrifying.

Take Coca Cola’s “Happiness Machine” video for example.  The video is shot in a hidden camera style that is just over 2 minutes long and clearly designed for sharing online.

Or the more off color smash hit of this month “First Moon Party” by hello Flo that happened to make it’s way into my personal facebook feed last month.  And as I only half way paid attention to it running in the background, I wondered if this was an advertisement for a new tween movie.

On a side note the budget for this particular video was just $6k!


How can I make a viral branded video?


As much as I would have to agree with the general consensus that a successful viral branded video is more about the art than the science – there does seem to be some common attributes among the well known campaigns.

1.  Psychological Share Motivation

As I mentioned before the reasons we all share videos is that something, a particular emotion, self expression, or need to share information compels us to do so.

Does  your video summon up more of an emotion than simply boredom and the desire to click NEXT?   Does it have a relatable message?  Or is it teaching us something useful that we should share with others?


2.  Shareability

Not only should you post your videos on the massive familiar site, YouTube, but you shouldn’t overlook rising sites such as Vodpod, Devour and PopScreen.   Just remember to place your videos on sites and inside players (if you are purchasing video ad placements) that are easily shared.   They should all have built in social features that eases sharing of your content.

3.  Strategy backed by Data

We all know by now it takes more than simply making a video and posting it to all the right networks.  You need to know who, where, and when your ideal market is.   Which of the sites generate the highest numbers of sharing for your particular type of video.  Who are the users of that site? What time of day do they share the most content?  And where in the world is Carmen Sandiago?  (kidding but you get my point)  All of these questions should be answered and evaluated prior to you uploading to your first site.

In the end


There is always a chance that even after you have done your research, spent hours and your hard earned money on production, as well as dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s – so to speak – that your video will flop.  We have all been there done that.

However, there is just as much a chance (if you have done your research), that it could go viral.

What are your ideas for a viral video?

4 thoughts on “Branded Viral Videos – We all want one

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