‘Popular’ is great, ‘Innovative’ is cool and ‘Most talked about’ is wonderful,  but if you are running a business,  ‘Effective’ is what really matters.  So what makes a viral video effective?
1. It has to be viewed by many people – some say 1,000,000 + to be ‘truly viral.’ (Ideally those people are your customers and prospects.)
2. It has to be obviously associated with your brand (otherwise it’s just entertainment) and
3. It has to achieve a measurable business objective (otherwise what’s the point).

Many companies have added or have considered adding viral video to their marketing mix. Patiently waiting for your child or pet to do something adorable or videotaping a funny skit the guys in IT created might eventually garner a lot of views on YouTube but it probably won’t move your business forward. A lot of planning and promotion and a bit of luck is what’s required if you want your viral video to have any measurable impact on your bottom line.

Here are my candidates for the most effective marketing viral videos of 2009:

1.“Will it Blend”

Company Blendtec

Why it’s effective. Blendtec has developed an ongoing series of viral videos that continue to be viewed by millions of people. These videos are effective because they do something that very few viral videos do – they drive sales. Blendtec has created a video series that is not only entertaining (who doesn’t like to see things being pulverized) but also demonstrates the power and utility of their product. Yes, most of these videos are not new – they originally launched over three years ago, but they continue to drive sales. The marginal cost to produce each new episode is minimal and there is an unlimited number of new things that people are keen to see vaporized.

2. Evian Roller Babies

Company: Evian

Why it’s effective. This video (and it’s various versions) have been viewed more than 35 million times – which sets it apart from almost every other viral video ad. As well, the video title ensures that the Evian name is directly associated with this video – a very important step in maintaining brand awareness. This is arguably one of the best (most popular, most engaging, most discussed….)  viral videos ever made so associating your brand with quality and success at this level is a very good thing.  Do I see an obvious connection between roller-blading babies and bottled water? No, but then again, the connection between girls in bikinis and beer isn’t that direct either.

3. Samsung HD Youtube Camera Trick Challenge

Company: Samsung

Why it’s effective. This video had smaller numbers than the rest of the videos on this list (just over a million) but was included because it did a number of things very well: 1. It demonstrated the quality of  the product – the video was shot on that camera; 2. It clearly mentioned the product name without seeming too ‘salesy’; 3. It was very clever -A contest to solve the puzzle presented in the video ensured good viral numbers and; 4. It was well done – it had a natural user-generated style but it was obviously very well planned. Unless you are Apple it is very difficult to get people to willingly share your product videos.

4. United Breaks Guitars

Business: Sons of Maxwell (Musicians)

Why it’s effective. Absolutely brilliant marketing by a relatively unknown band called Sons of Maxwell. Dave Caroll, the lead singer of the band was mistreated by United Airlines and decided to write three songs about his experiences in frustration. Whether this video was simply opportunistic marketing, motivated by revenge, the beginning of a new and growing consumer advocacy movement or just a way of escaping writers block we’ll never know. The outcome however is clear. The previously unknown band has gained a huge following and are booking shows all over the continent because of this viral video.

5. T-Mobile Dance

Company – T-Mobile
Why it’s effective. Sure T-mobile weren’t the first to film a flash mob, but they still hit this one out of the park. This video is clever, energetic, human, beautiful, entertaining and just plain fun to watch. It has huge numbers at over 17 million views and it does a great job of supporting T-Mobiles ‘Life’s for Sharing’ marketing campaign. T-mobile has smartly followed up with a sing-along video in Trafalguar Square and will undoubtedly continue the ‘Life’s for Sharing’ viral video series – a wise decision, but it will be tough to beat the magic of this video.

Which video would you add to the list of ‘Most Effective Viral Video Ads of 2009?”


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