Viral Loop by Adam L. Penenberg

Viral Loop by Adam L. Penenberg

Author:Adam L. Penenberg
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Hachette Books

• A series created for the Sony Bravia HDTV featuring explosions of paint covering whole buildings, thousands of bouncing balls, and giant clay rabbits, all in vivid color.

• A Dove Evolution ad of a normal-looking woman instantly transformed into a supermodel before our very eyes. Tagline: “No wonder our image of beauty is distorted.”

• The cheesy Blendtec Will it blend? series, showing an old guy in a lab coat blending everything from golf balls to hockey pucks to marbles and iPods.

What do they have in common? For one, they are fun to watch and the antithesis of the hard sell. They offer the audience a value proposition. In exchange for entertaining us the companies are afforded the privilege of mentioning their product. The narrative of each video is woven tightly into the brand’s message. For Honda, it is the Rube Goldberg device made from car parts, which represents the idea that the Honda Accord simply works. Sony’s ad played up the Bravia’s color and image clarity. Dove’s idea expanded the idea of beauty to encompass more than twiggy supermodels. Blendtec wants everyone to know how powerful its blenders are. The videos are short (less than two minutes), clever—and make viewers want to learn more: the Honda ad sent more than one watcher to the Web to figure out how it was done. So did Dove Evolution.

JibJab ( jibjab.com), a flash animation studio based in Los Angeles, is one of the few to build a business around replicating viral success. Conceived by Evan and Gregg Spiridellis, JibJab has attracted a worldwide following with its funny, satirical political cartoons. The Brooklyn-born brothers had their first viral success in 2000 with the release of an animated short featuring the Founding Fathers rapping about the Declaration of Independence. Then, during the run-up to the presidential elections, they hit 5 million downloads with a video of George W. Bush and Al Gore slinging dirt at each other—this at a time when the majority of Internet users were on dawdling dial-up modems. To follow up they had fun at the expense of Arnold Schwarzenegger with Ahnold for Governor, which got them admitted to the Sundance Online Film Festival. But it was This Land, a political parody of the 2004 George Bush–John Kerry campaign set to the classic Woody Guthrie tune, skewering “liberal wienies” and “right-wing nut jobs” alike, that thrust them into the big time. After seeding the virality by sending the link to the 130,000 people on their email list and premiering the video on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (which averaged 5 million viewers per show), the brothers Spiradellis’s Web server almost “spontaneously combusted” under the onslaught.

“The more people you can email, the faster you get viral adoption,” says Greg Spiradellis, who got his MBA at Wharton. The Tonight Show acted as a huge multiplier. Between the two, “this is how we were able to turn 130,000 emails into 80 million streams.” Naturally, they released a video leading up to the 2008 election


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