Are viral videos just sponsored entertainment?


Who would bother forwarding an infomercial on to a friend?

Millions of people as it turns out. The above video is a rap remix of the original Slap Chop video that already has 1.4 million views. This video has been seen by close to 900,000 people and other versions (they’ve ‘sliced and diced’ the original into a variety of styles and formats) have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. These numbers don’t include  the  parody videos that are now starting to surface. That’s millions of views for an infomercial.

Vince Shlomi- the presenter who helped to make the owners of the ShamWow product a lot of money is back with another over-the-top delivery that heralds the glory of this new kitchen chopping device. It’s campy, it’s silly, and it’s exhausting but it does something that most other viral videos do not: it sells. It demonstrates the features and benefits of the product very clearly. And it is memorable.

The top commercial viral video at the moment is the Samsung Extreme Sheep LED Art video. (8 million views) It’s clever and fun to watch but has little, if any connection to the Samsung LED monitors it ‘promotes’. Most viral videos are really ‘sponsored entertainment’ with a very weak direct link to the product or service they are supposed to promote. Viral video producers are very careful to point out to advertisers that being to ‘salesy’ will turn viewers off (and also lessen their chances of winning awards).

The  T-mobile Dance video by contrast is absolutely brilliant and does what many viral videos do not – it includes the product and the experience (in this case – people sharing the moment with their camera-phones) as part of the video. Certainly the connection is not overt – but at least there is an obvious connection. Going from the hearding of  light-suit adorned sheep to large screen television screen is a bit more of a stretch.

Entertainment should never be the goal – if it is then you should sell tickets. Effectiveness should be the measure of success. Did your video sell product, inform your customers and prospects or ‘support the brand’ in a meaningful way?

Will Slap Chop win any awards?  No way. It will be ridiculed by ‘serious’ marketers.

Did it entertain?  If you are a big ‘kitchen demo rap’ fan – then it delivered the goods.

Did it help to raise awareness of the product?  Absolutely!

Was it memorable?  I won’t soon forget it.

Did it help to sell product? I don’t know the numbers but I would have to say yes – if for no other reason than all of the Slap Chop parody video creators having to rush out and buy the device to use in their parody videos. (Perhaps that is a new sub-market.)

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