So let’s start off talking about Heineken’s new viral video campaign. It seems that Heineken have gone all ‘digital’ on us with ‘the date’ advert, and are now, instead of just advertising using traditional methods alone, using viral video ads. Let’s cast our minds back to around January when Heineken launched their ‘Perfect Entrance’ ad, the advert in which a man charms his way into a restaurant and seems to know everyone there regardless of their nationality. Maybe there is a message there? If you drink Heineken you will end up charming and confident and you will, without fail, be able to charm everyone in that restaurant. Well, maybe not, maybe you may just get thrown out, but you see what they are trying to do there. They are targeting the right demographic (young males) and are almost hinting at aspirations to this cool, cultured man who happens to drink Heineken. Anyway back to the figures and the ad reached a million views in just a week! Not bad, but why not just advertise on TV, and then you are guaranteed views instead of having to earn them through good content. Well, arguably the beauty (if you can call it that) of online viral videos is that people actually ‘want’ to watch them, and that makes the marketing purer in a way. If the viewer is watching the video out of their choice then they must hold an interest in the topic to start with, helping the company target their specific market. The viewer, if they like the video, may also share the video with their friends, which is also pretty good I suppose… So we see a video in the ‘most viewed’ on youtube, we like the look of the title, and we watch it because we have nothing more important to do. We notice that it has a lot of views and so the universal thought is, “well if everyone else is watching it, it must be interesting for me”. Did we actually want to watch the video? Or are we just watching the video because ‘everyone is doing it’? The basic principles here are the social cues of attention. Sorry to get all psychological on you but it’s instinct for humans and animals (especially sheep) to both respond to, and follow what everyone else is doing. It’s set in this cognitive ability that we call attention. If everyone at a bus stop is looking to the left what do we do? Look left. The same or similar concept applies to viral videos on youtube. Some firms these days even pay private companies to boost their views on youtube so people will instinctively watch them. A view boosting technique for example may be using a title that will catch everyone’s eye, like this one. However it’s important to note here that this is only really the case when advertising via Youtube. If a company was to pay Facebook to display their ad on Facebook’s special ‘sponsored’ section, they would just pay Facebook, a bit like a TV ad. It’s just people don’t pay as much attention to them. So what does make these viral ads so special if it isn’t the viewers clean desire to watch them in the first place? Well, first off people don’t necessarily want to watch a TV ad but they still watch it, and they still go out and buy the product or service being sold. The difference here is that although it takes more time and effort to create and make a viral ad go ‘big’, it’s much cheaper and more organic. Ads can be shared over social networks and watched over sites such as Youtube as many times as they like and so in a sense they are less forced. Ads are shared over facebook because they’re ‘must see’ videos: that’s what makes them viral. OK, so going back to Heineken’s success on viral ads, it seems that their new ‘the date‘ video is actually enjoyable to watch. In fact it would have to be to get that many views. If people like watching the advert and the ad is targeting the right demographic, with the right messages, it will, with a bit of luck, become viral. Evidently this is what has happened. When watching ‘the date’, its wit and humour fool you into actually appreciating it. Yes they are trying to sell you something, and that sometimes puts people off liking adverts, but it’s not pushy, it’s not bland, it’s, well, it’s viral. And if you’d like to start devising a viral campaign of your own, why not submit a brief?
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