April 13, 2010

Viral Videos: Chicken (Not Subservient), Snakes and a Big Beer Belly


Having spent the last two days at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association conference, I have viral videos on the mind - both those created by consumers and those created by brands themselves.

Companies tend to call videos they create on their own behalf "viral" simply because they include a "forward to a friend" mechanism. In truth, there's no telling what will make a video "go viral" until it actually happens, until a cultural phenomenon takes place and a frenzy of participation begins, where consumers talk about, create and share videos.

The best viral videos tend to be downright hilarious, but occasionally they go viral for other reasons - for touching a nerve, for example, or for shining a spotlight on a particular hot button topic or issue. Mostly, though, they're just plain fun.

Here's what I discovered this week:

Link: McNuggets

Type in the word "McDonald's" on YouTube.com and you'll find over 2500 videos. This one is particularly wacky. In it, two teens stand on a city street with a McDonald's in the background singing (if that's the word for what they're doing) a song about McNuggets. Most of the lyrics go, "McNuggets, McNuggets, yah." They accompany themselves with mouth noises and break into occasional, weirdly random dance moves.

Link: Snakes on a Plane

This is a movie that won't be in theaters until August, and already consumers themselves have generated far more word of mouth and media about the film than the studio itself. In fact, Snakes on a Plane, a movie about an assassin who unleashes a crate full of snakes aboard a passenger jet in order to eliminate a witness in protective custody, has spawned dozens - if not hundreds - of videos across the net.

There's the video clip of "auditions" for the film, for example. You'll see one terrific young comedian don the personas of Jack Nicholson, Christopher Walken and Joe Pesci, among others, in order to audition for the leading role in the film. The comedian looks nothing like any of these actors, but his facial expressions and, especially, his voices nail the impersonations.

Then there's the "hit" rap song, Snakes on an MP3, which begins, "Somebody hold a 'mayday' before I go insane, this ticket don't say nothin' bout no snakes on the plane."

The "rappers" are four kids who look entirely too wholesome to be even pretending to be rappers, which adds to the goofy charm of the music video. The lyrics are clever - though not brilliantly so ("See my belt? Snake pelt. See my denim? Snake venom.") -- but the video taken as a whole is simply wonderful.

You might also want to watch the official movie trailer. Be warned, though, that it's far less entertaining than the song and the audition video. Snake links:
Snakes on a Plane audition on YouTube.com
Snakes on an MP3
Snakes on a Plane movie trailer


Link: The Beer Belly

Finally, there's a video for a product that's getting tremendous word of mouth simply because of the product itself: a strap-on beer gut called, aptly, the Beer Belly. Like its more unassuming cousin, the CamelBak, the Beer Belly holds a tremendous amount of fluids for consumption on-the-go. Unlike the CamelBak, you strap it on the front of your body, and when it's full, it looks like a spare tire.

Whether the video ad has gone viral or not, I don't know. But seeing the ingenious (or idiotic) contraption in action is amusing and worth watching (if only for word of mouth marketers and fanatic beer drinkers).


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