If your one of those people who just absolutely, positively has to know what viral video are the hottest at any given moment, you might want to give a service called Ulmo a try. UMLO, created by asabailey, crawls the web and tracks linking behavior to various video sites to produce an aggregated list of what's hot. On top right now is, of course, the goofy video of giddy YouTube billionaires, Chad and Steve, telling us how wonderfully happy they are and how YouTube will continue to be great and not change too much because of the Google acquisition. Um, yea.
We've seen this at least three times at different web addresses but passed it off as just a freakishly weird video but now the video contains a TiVo status bar, sound effects, closing copy and logo. And, it now lives on the website of San Francisco-based Swivel Media lending more credence to the marketing angle of the clip. The video (an old Bollywood film) features an Indian-looking family sitting on a bed with an old-school boombox. The Dad turns the boombox on and off as one of the kids (or...dare we say, dwarf with a big head and freakishly weird smile), standing on the floor in front of the bed dances robotically, starting and stopping as the Dad starts and stops the music. Freakishly weird but additively entertaining.
We contacted our friend Erik over at Swivel Media to confirm (yes, shockingly, we do that sometimes) this is, in fact, another weird promotion for TiVo and Erik tells us, yes, Swivel did create it in the sense they latched on to popular and strange clip and branded it with TiVo. We say another because in mid-September an odd, 50's-style video surfaced called Blue Moon in which scientists found a Tivo and thought it was some sort of alien (the kind from other worlds) device.
With a riff on typefaces, HP's Imaging and Printing Group have released their first virally-intended video, called Berthold's Grotesk Zkzident, which features two graphic designers working together, one of whom freaks out when the printer breaks and ends up trashing the office unintentionally. Oh, and bike messenger that shows up at the end? No idea. Weird. But in a strangely good way. Created by Publicis Dialog.
Today, we received a cryptic email directing is to a Belgian website called Unknown Frequencies which delivered explosive, full screen imagery that made it look like your computer was being attacked by some sort or killer virus. It then delivered an onslaught of IM windows in quantity only the likes of girls with naked pictures on their profiles would ever receive. After a few more ominous messages, the site said to check our email October 11 for more information. We don't need to wait. We already figured it out.
Strangely, as soon as this full screen takeover begin, it reminded us very much of a movie review we had read back in August for the Kristen Bell film, Pulse. And, sure enough, after spending a bit more time with the site, seeing a directory tree with YouAreNowinfected.com flash by early on and following that link, we were redirected to pulsethemovie.net.
Not that this particular movie needs any promotion since everyone's already sen it or they're already lined up for the DVD but Disney felt it necessary to put together, Dead Man's Mail, a "create a customized pirate and make it speak whatever you tell it to" promotion just in case the two people who haven't seen Pirates of the Caribbean 2 are aware of the DVD's release.
In Spain, a video created by Tiempo BBDO Barcelona which shows two guys sneaking into the contry's parliament building to steal the chair of Prime Minister Zapatero has racked up over 421,000 views on YouTube and created a media frenzy with coverage in El Pais and Spitting image. Part of a United Nations campaign against poverty, the message left in place of Zapatero's chair reads "Zapatero, get on your feet on October 16 to protest against world poverty" which ties nicely to the stolen chair since, without a chair, Zapatero would have to stand the next time he went to parliament.
The video was believed to have been real by the media until the agency issued a statement to the contrary. Yes, it was staged. Part of the video was shot in parliament. The window the two climb through is not the parliament building. The shots inside parliament are the real deal but they didn't steal the actual chair, instead, using a prop. Real, unreal or otherwise, it certainly got the desired attention and media coverage for the cause.
Like a clumsy butcher trying to trim the fat off a mouse, this virally-intended hack job is supposed to promote the new Nokia E-Series Smartphone by enabling one to create a personalized message from an overbearing company CEO and send it to a friend. Trouble is, like that annoying "Head On. Apply directly to the forehead" commercial, this creation is so bad...uh...oh wait...we didn't finish reading the release. OK. There it is. "The jerkiness of the clip transitions add nicely to the impersonal irony of the message." There. That explains the hack editing job. Irony.
The clip is being seeded by Rubber Republic which tells us there's an NDA that prevents them from telling us who created the piece. Hmm. A smart move. Wait until if and when it becomes popular, then take all the glory. If it fails, face saved.
"No! No! No! No, it's not a clandestine promotion for the band Sick Puppies, " our intern yelled at us. "But, come one, a guy in a video with a sign that says Free Hugs roaming around in Sydney, Australia just hoping to brighten the world with nothing to gain from it?" we shouted back. "Yes you jaded idiot," screamed the intern, "Not everything on YouTube is trying to sell you something."
Not convinced, we stood up and asked, "What about this little gem on the Free Hugs website that says 'With grass root marketing tactics we promote products and ideas that are in line with our core values and the FREE HUGS message.'? I suppose that just means the products and ideas they claim to promote are love and goodwill?"
"Damn," the intern who was now jumping out of her seat bellowed. "You pompous, unfeeling know-it-all! Do you think the only thing every human being thinks about is getting the newest version of the iPod?" "Um, yes," we answered.
"Fuck you," she screamed as she turned and left, likely to go give someone a free hug.
Oh how we love a fun viral campaign. Especially when it comes from the biggest of big boys, GM. They've had three amateur videos floating around since the beginning of the month that, while capturing seemingly innocent events, reveal flying cars in the background. Will Video For Food has a good analysis of the campaign and points out an accompanying Anglefire (that company is still around?) website called Future Technology Today which delves deeper into the videos. The whole thing became very obvious once GM began running ads promoting its 100,000 warranty on Jalopnik showing flying cars in the banners.
While we in the industry love to analyze this stuff to death, we wonder how effective virals like this are once it becomes obvious it's a GM commercial. At first glance, one might not notice all the cars in the videos are GM. But anyone with a web connection and Google can quickly find all the answers they want about these videos. We're not complaining. We're just wondering.
A couple weeks ago Davis Freeberg sent us a link to a video called Blue Moon, a 50's-style video explaining an important scentific discovery that turned out to be, yes, a TiVo. Of course, the whole things just a viral campaign and theres a website, TiVoisAliens to go along with it as well. Now, Freeberg dug deeper and found what he claims was some hacking into his computer after tracking down the IP address of the person running the TiVoisAliens site. He even claims subtle imagery of the Ogilvy logo is present in one of the spoof images on the site. Rather than going to all this trouble, perhaps TiVo should just stop playing nice with marketers and make a product that actually does what consumers want: skip commercials.