Possessed Baby Stroller Prank: Screamingly Good Viral Marketing

Hear a baby crying in a stroller in NYC? May want to let that pass. Could be a devil baby that contorts itself and pukes. In this particular case, it may be a robot designed by the folks at Thinkmodo for another horror film promotion (remember the Carrie telekinetic prank in a NYC coffee shop?). This one is to promote “Devil’s Due,” and in about 24 hours it’s past 15 million views (1/16 update: 26 million views in 2 days). That, friends, is viral.

It’s “Devil Baby Attack” and it’s taking YouTube by storm. I’m probably most impressed by the way I learned about this. On a phone call with my mom this evening. I guess I’ll have to call her more often.

Some feedback/thoughts:

  • The prank is beautifully executed from beginning to end. We’re shocked. Then we see behind-scenes. No wasted shot.
  • Excellent job on “seeding” it. There’s no way it would have been seen this many times — so quickly — without a smart promotion of the clip itself (bloggers, journalists, etc).
  • Given the 22K comments, I’d say the majority of the views are real views. When videos are “gamed,” you see a really low number of comments. Rough math: 22K comments divided by 15 million views is .0015 percent of viewers commented. With more programatic  stuff, you see a slightly better ratio. For instance a recent RWJ video got 200K views and 1,700 comments (.0085 percent).
  • I would love to see a bit more of the off camera laughs and the team behind it — It helps when the viewer has a chance to connect more with the creators. But it’s a horror film promo so I suppose you have to keep it somewhat dark and mysterious.
  • I’m glad we’re no longer concerned about making these appear non sponsored. The video’s end reveals it’s a promo. And if you’re gonna have a logo at the end, there’s no shame in providing a link to the movie site for Devil’s Due (www.devilsduemovie.com). This would drive traffic to the film site’s real trailers and almost invariably help convert more of these 15 million views into ticket-paying customers. Even better: give us a reason to hit the horror site. As long at the viral stunt is this good, we’ll forgive the plug at the end.

Finally, a note to Thinkmodo team: for the love of God people, I missed my invite to these productions. I’ll consult for free to see you guys pull the next one off. I’m one of YouTube’s most-viewed pranksters, an author of a book on viral video marketing, an advertising executive and a horror fan. And I can keep a secret. What else do you need? 

Thinkmodo created the robotic possessed baby to promote the film "Devil's Due."
Thinkmodo created the robotic possessed baby to promote the film “Devil’s Due.” Who’s missing from this shot, friends?

Future of Video-Marketing (Ad:Tech): On Fly, Bright Light, Everywhere

Video ad serving is changing dramatically, as video ad units become better targeted, more “real time,” and less “black box” to those executing and measuring a campaign (read: more accountable). Today’s AdTech:NYC “Marketing Masters: Video Everywhere” session at 3:15 at the Javits Center (hosted by Nalts) is exploring these themes. It’s a continuation of the Marketing Masters series: “Video Everywhere—Brand Lift and Awareness with Online Video” and “Deep Brand Integration in Online Video.”

Presenters include leaders from 3 leading firms: Affine Systems, AOL Time Warner, and Dynamic Video.
➢ Affine Systems is using computer-vision technology to “shine a bright light on the current black box of broadband video.”
➢ AOL is familiar to us all, but it’s made news this week for a redesigned homepage that focuses more on video than ever. Editor picks are featured on the homepage.
➢ Dynamic Video, like its name implies, focuses on dynamic creative marketing and rich media advertising, delivered “on the fly” to keep it fresh, targeted, measured, and optimized.

The peeps:

  • David Miller is Director of Product Management, Video at AOL Time Warner. Prior to that he directed Advertising.com’s video network and worked in the telecommunications industry.
  • Michael Sullivan is CEO of Affine Systems, founded in Boston and now in SanFran. He is an expert in natural language processing, machine learning, computer vision and applied cryptography. He has two degrees from Harvard in mathematics and science, and worked for the institute for defense analysis before founding Affine Systems.
  • Tal Evans is Vice President of Marketing & Business Development for Dynamic Video. Tal is an avid scuba diver, and that fuels his passion for navigating through the deep abyss of technology entrepreneurship.

More news to follow if we uncover something amazing and newsworthy. 🙂

Teleporting Fat Guy Returns

How many views does it take for a video to be defined as going “viral”? It’s not 1 million, and it’s not 2 million… read on.

I’m a big fan of Smosh’s Teleporting Fat Guy (see original video seen more than 4 million times). So I was thrilled to see the adorable chubby guy return in the recent episode below.

By the way, I was chatting with Mark Douglas (KeyofAwesome) last week at the Next New Networks office…Oh sorry, did I name drop? While in NYC I also saw iJustine, MysteryGuitarMan, ShaneDawson, ShayCarl and CharlesTrippy (see video proof).

Anyway, Mark and I were discussing what “viral” means anymore, and the number 4 million seems about right. Only a few videos hit that number in the month they’re posted. So let’s go with 4 million as 2010 viral, but that means 4 million views right away- not cumulatively over months or years.

I need to clarify again that my book proclaims “viral is dead” for commercial videos, I do not contend that viral video will ever end. Ever. As long as we humans like to experience something together at the same time, we’ll have viral hits. It’s just that they’ll rarely be advertising videos… and I don’t like to see brands cede their online-video marketing strategy and tactics to “going viral” due to these low odds.

So here’s the teleporting fat guy appearing again, featuring Smosh’s Ian and Anthony traveling forward and back in time, and meeting their future selves. You gotta love Smosh for persisting and persisting with their comedic duo even when their managers sometimes sell ’em out too much. Smosh could pimp Amway and I’d still love ’em.

Wait- was this post about Smosh or about how many views it takes to make a video meet the definition of “viral”? Oh who cares. Just watch the face of Teleporting Fat Guy when he hears about the sponge bath. Hey did I include Smosh in my book? I can’t remember.

Public School Choir Wins Webby Award (June 14)

The PS 22 Choir will receive the “Artist of the Year” award at the June 14 Webby Awards. The “YouTube sensation” elementary school chorus joins previous winners Roger Ebert, Amy Poehler, and OK Go! (see press release for such quotes as, “We’re thrilled to honor these outstanding young men and women for reminding us all about the joy and power of music.”

The 14th annual award event will be hosted by B.J. Novak of NBC’s The Office, and feature winners and honorees delivering five-word speeches in the tradition of past Webby victors like Beastie Boys (“Can anyone fix my computer?”) and Jimmy Fallon (“Thank God Conan got promoted”). Speeches and ceremony highlights will be broadcast on the Webby Awards YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/TheWebbyAwards).

5 word acceptance speech. La la la la la, anyone? Check out the choir’s channel on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/agreggofsociety. Here’s the group’s most-popular hit, which surprisingly is a Lady Gaga song. You just can’t go wrong with Lady Gaga, but if these kids can’t make you smile you’re taking life too seriously.

When you’re done enjoying this, check out when Latifah sneaks into a rehearsal. Ever seen kids scream like this for someone that old?

Creative & Sponsor Trump Peanut Butter & Chocolate

I love it when a certain artist, video creator, or web series finds THE sponsor. Not a sponsor, but the ideal one. The kind of sponsor that you’d think would be stalking the entertainer, but sadly probably doesn’t know they exist. There are matches made in heaven: iJustine or Happyslip and Mac, Rhett & Link and any CPG brand, MysteryGuitarMan and a cool electronic device, SxePhil and Tequila, LisaNova and Stayfrees, ShayCarl and Twinkies.

To my surprise, while catching up with Revision3’s FilmRiot via TiVo, I heard Ryan Connolly (host) announce B&H as a sponsor. Yes it’s peanut butter meets chocolate, and I can’t imagine how they scored it. I don’t think of B&H as the type of marketing organization that would be so savvy.

Anyone serious about video, audio, production or schweet home entertainment is probably well aware of B&H. I think I’m an affiliate, and I think I’ve made nothing. But what the store lacks in marketing acumen it makes up for in an insane inventory of well price stuff, informed people, and excellent prices. That said, it’s easy to forget about them and go to what’s “top of mind” (like Amazon or BestBuy). The store is 50% of heaven for me, but missing the pools of white chocolate, dancing midgets and a few other things I’d like not to mention.

Electronic deals and discounts from Revision3 FilmRiot
FilmRiot, a quirky, informative, well cut show... now sponsored by B&H, which is to video creators what virgins are to terrorists. Only we video creators actually get the equipment, and the terrorists just get the promise of virgins but burned weiners instead.

I always thought Netflix was getting the deal of its life with FilmRiot. I wonder if Netflix dropped, which would be enough to make me drop- maybe Louderback will spill the beans if I get him drunk enough. BTW Louderback (because I think you actually do read this blog) I just received a friggin’ awesome ethernet-via-electrical socket device on his reco and it rawks my previously stalled webTV rig). Next time I open my Roku I’m going to switch from Netflix to Revision3 shows just to pout. [5/12/2010 7:45 am Louderback says Netflix didn’t drop it’s rotating].

Anyway I think there’s an even better FilmRiot ROI for B&H — which wastes not a penny on promoting the show. It’s better than paid search, because it’s reaching the exact people who will/do buy there. Paid search churns money on people that will shop on B&H but buy locally. Yet B&H is unlikely see the direct benefit, just like Netflix will never know that I returned as a customer mostly because of FilmRiot and I’m its friggin’ dream customer (never quite watching/ordering enough movies to cost them much, but always paying my bill).

Check out Film Riot’s Technical Deal Recommendations and find out some killer electronics you can buy me for my birthday, which just arrived 3 minutes ago. Hey- I’m spending my birthday with TiVo and a laptop, and a wife and family asleep. Stupid nap today. What could I do? I had a pain procedure. I was sleepy.

Proving Social-Media Articles Don’t Have to Suck

No, all social-media articles don’t have to suck.

MediaPost’s Kelly Samardak takes us into a speakeasy during a social-media Mental Prohibition in this coverage of “Digital Cocktails: Keys to Social Media Success.” The piece, part business and human interest, chronicles the event — hosted at the NYC studios of ForYourImagination (where you can pass the social-media “dutchie on the left hand side“).

It’s a cool and quirky narrative exploring the social behavior of those advancing the NYC social media ‘n digital media advertainment scene, while these well-intentioned expatriates try to make enough money for this month’s rent, a new book, and an $11.50 pack of Merits (not necessarily in that order).

Maybe I’m charmed by the article because I’ve had a bong snap of the venue’s mojo, and can almost smell the couch at FYI studio as I read.  Samardak refers to it as “funky…. soft, coffee-house-like, velvety furniture bordered the usual white chairs used for panel viewing.” Now can you see why I get offended at a list of “The New Establishment” (Revision3, NextNewNetwork, Mondo, etc) that fails to include FYI?

ForYourImagination's studios, captured during a less cool event

You haven’t whiffed the inner belly of the online-video-social-media-digital-branded-entertainment advertising coup d’éta until you’ve been “shhhh’d” by Paul Kontonis (professional squealer and one of the most huggable people in emerging media). Can you blame him? You were gabbing too loudly with YouTube nerd stars while he was trying to introduce his virtual family members to some… new video hosting streaming adver-creative case study thing. “Hey, Radio Shack… we’re learning here.”

Parenthetically, have you not had the pleasure of sipping Kontinis’ invisible juice? That video’s up to a not-too-shabby 600K views, Paul. Will “Businessman Snow Fail” top Invisible? We doubt either of our YouTube Miller’s Bests will impress the martini web-series production man. He indulged me with his cameo despite visible befuddles, reverberated by qualms of co-unwitting-cast member Daisy Whitney… the Ginger to Samardak’s Mary Anne. Just keep moving, kids.

Feel your heart rate lower as you sink into Samardak’s recount of the crowd chuckling to pictures from “This Is Why You’re Fat (TIWYF).” And you’ve got to love this byte: “Kontonis is a moderator to benchmark… rather than asking a question, listening to each panelist, responding with “great,”  and then moving on, he talked with them, sometimes even challenging them to answer questions better, as if saying “if I were in the audience I wouldn’t accept that — go further.”

Samardak pokes Carrot Creative’s Katy Kelly, noting that the crowd giggled when Katy accidentally called TIWYF, “this is why I think you’re fat.” And Katy’s quote, (“you get what you pay for,”) quipped Samardak, put her in the “minor vs major league quoting strategy with clients.” snap oh no you dint.

Just when I was thinking 12 e-mail newsletters from MediaPost might warrant an opt-out surrender, I’m rescued by Samardak’s bid-ness poetry (check out the “Sneeze on the Salad Bar” piece).

Have I met her? I think so. I don’t know. It could have been Shira Lazar wearing a sombrero. You perky brunette journalists start to all look alike anymore.

Times Squares Hijinks

I wrote about Jessica Kurson recently, and yesterday spent the afternoon with the nationally-known Comedian in NY City (Times Square). I don’t think I’ve had this much fun making a video in ages, and I’m certain this was my finest hour in NYC ever. Subscribe to her here.

An Unviral “Viral Video” for a Cause

Thousands of apples roll out of an NYC subway car. Drives message home with authentic/amateur feel. Big stunt, simple concept. Visually unforgettable.

The only thing it ‘aint (as of this writing) is viral. Under 20K views. Posted in 2006 this would be at a million views by now. Show me someone who claims to understand what goes viral and I’ll show you a liar. I did try to send the folks some tips (click more if you want to read them).

Want to know the bad-ass part of this? You’re watching f’ing CGI. No kidding. This entire thing was simulated. I watched it 4 times and had absolutely no clue. I was SURE it was real. See the “making of.”

For what it’s worth, CityHarvest.org (CityHarvest YouTube channel) I totally dig it. Maybe next time see if a popular web star like Happyslip (a former New Yorker) will be in it… and post it on her channel. Then it would be at 2 million and counting by now.

P.S. Found this on Vidque.com, where I also found this unviral video “Facebook Status Update During Ceremony.” I like curators now. Even old musty ones.


Continue reading “An Unviral “Viral Video” for a Cause”

What’s the Most EPIC Web-Video and Digital Studio/Network?

What are the best online-video studio and networks? The ones focused on web video only?

what's the best digital studio? Online-video production and distribution house?Revision3? NextNewNetworks? MyDamnChannel? ForYourImagination? Break (fka HBOLab)? Okay- I forgot Crackle.

But here’s a show-down of 5 online-video studios/networks producing original content for the web. Are they profitable? Of course not… yet. Do they have good content? Sure, even if a bunch of shows never found an audience.

But the question is… are they EPIC? Do they have a personality beyond their content? We’ll find out. Vote now, or see if they respond to the second challenge (with the third and final round taking place in NYC on the week of 7/8/9.

Thanks to Daisy Whitney’s article from last year that helped me identify a couple I might have forgotten (of course a few of hers have since gone MIA). Her piece discusses some of the background (including their venture capital, founders and shows).

I’m not sure exactly why I created EpicDigitalStudioAward.com, but maybe it was because the Webby’s are kinda jumping the shark, and this category needed something special. Maybe it was the fact that I had such contrasting footage from two of the shows I caught live last night.

Please let me know if I missed any, and if you haven’t seen why Revision3’s Diggnation won Round 1, then check this video out. It’s some loser jumping on stage last night in NYC… in his underwear. What a loser!

diggnation underwear guy
Footage of freak that crashes stage of 500-person live Diggnation event in his underwear

Bigelow Tea Putting Face to Brand… But Nobody Will See It

Chris Brogan uses this Bigelow Tea example (see video below) of how to “put a face to a brand.” He’s right.. In just a few seconds, you’ll think differently of Bigelow, and it might change your behavior when you confront dozens of choices of tea (many with more exotic packaging and higher price points). BUT you won’t likely see this video unless you work for Bigelow, or read Brogan’s or my blog. 

Who wants to subscribe to a branded “Bigelow” YouTube page? Who’s going to send a friend this promotion for Bigelow (unless maybe they’re in the video)?

What if we started with this same video, and made a few changes. We’d have to argue with Bigelow’s CEO and marketing advisors, but if we won the video would have exponentially more impact.

  1. Instead of just having Bigelow CEO (Cindi Bigelow), lets’ put her with a prominent YouTube star. Then compensate the star, and have them post it on their already popular channel… now it’s good for 20-100K views almost guaranteed. 
  2. Let’s make it more entertaining even if you don’t care about tea or the brand. More “candid camera” moments… awkward, funny, interesting. The playful construction guys makes for an interesting ad or corporate video, but a luke-warm piece of voluntary entertainment. 
  3. Let’s cap it at 2 minutes… it’s too long for a promotional video.
  4. Dial down the Bigelow… If it was less about Bigelow and more about something less self-serving then its chances of traveling are far higher… perhaps we see a tea-versus-coffee debate (featuring angry New Yorkers arguing about the finer beverage). Tea’s best chance of growth is at the expense of coffee, and Bigelow’s tide will rise with the tide if it helps that happen.
  5. Bottom line- if I was marketing Bigelow I’d rather 50,000 people be exposed to a great video where Bigelow was subtly mentioned, rather than 500 people seeing a video that differentiates my brand, pitches the quality, and promotes the family heritage. Unless Bigelow tosses $50,000 of media behind this video, Cindi’s persuasion may not go further than friends and family of the company.