Viral videos – can you catch the bug twice?

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  • October 23, 2009

Everyone loves a good viral video and when successfully executed they can deliver a real boost for your brand – spreading a message or just getting you mentioned and noticed. But can you replicate viral success time and again?

The question came to mind when I heard that one of my favourite virals of recent times was getting a sequel.

J’aime la Tour

Commissioned by visitBlackpool to promote tourism, this clip gives a humorous take on the Lancashire town, comparing it to Paris with a cinematic nod to French cinema thrown in.

This video is undoubtedly very clever, but by viral conventions isn’t particularly humorous, is a little slow paced and doesn’t really wow.

Despite that it still attracted 60,000 viewers on YouTube because what really made it stand out when uploaded earlier this year was its ability to jump vertically between different media channels. It had crossover appeal which was capitalised on by an effective PR campaign.

While people sharing your video on facebook, twitter, or even through good old fashioned emails is great, it is never likely to have real penetration unless it migrates to other channels.

Mainstream media remains the biggest game in town and successful PR  increased viewers and the video’s spread. National TV coverage included BBC News and Sky News, with newspaper coverage including the Daily Mail and a host of regional newspapers and websites.

This was in effect a great PR campaign based around a solid, but not spectacular video.

Repeat success?

A lot what we do online is about the ‘new’. People want  a succession of exciting, fun and interesting experiences (as pointed out, describing it as ‘nowism’).

The media is no different and is constantly looking for fresh content and stories – especially in the 24-hour news cycle we now inhabit.

In that environment can we expect virality to strike twice? It does sometimes as Blendtec’s Will it Blend? series and VW’s recent Fun Theory videos have shown -  but they are the rare exception.

If you can get one of your viral masterpieces off the ground you should consider it a success – thousands have failed in the same quest, lacking the resources to mount a PR campaign that would help it jump between channels and gain mainstream penetration.

In essence though viral videos are an opportunity to look creatively at your brand or products. While they might not lead to overnight YouTube stardom they can give you a fresh perspective on marketing . People like fun, engaging content –whether it is a video, news story, tweet, picture, or podcast.

So will the second video share the same success at J’aime la tour? I’ll let you be the judge of that…

Love, from Blackpool

Joel Turner

About Joel Turner

  • tag44

    Thanks for the post and for focusing on viral videos twice. Nice informative post.

  • Paul Thewlis

    Great post, I’d love them to get a double whammy because the first vid showed real talent. The danger with this kind of marketing is the follow through – Blackpool ain’t Paris and it never will be – so while the video pokes a few cheeky references, does it really create a satisfying end-product?

    From everything i’ve read to date on this story, i haven’t actually seen the tangible results in the resort which I’m sure is critical. Having worked with town centre planners etc. previously though, seeing those view numbers come through will probably be enough.

    Certainly achieved getting people talking though…

    @createvirals on Twitter
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  • Joel Turner

    Hi Paul,

    That is another aspect of virals that I didn’t really have a change to get into. Does the number of views really matter if consumers aren’t doing what you want them to – in this instance visit Blackpool.

    I don’t think it matters too much with this campaign as it was all about brand building for Blackpool. It was more of a PR than marketing campaign, so success as you point out is about the total audience reached. In this instance the viewing figures on Youtube weren’t huge but it was the ‘crossover’ that made it a success.


  • Adam

    I have to agree with Paul that “Blackpool ain’t Paris”. Otherwise this is a beautiful concept.

    The first video was nicely done, although it could have got to the punch line a bit quicker and rounded up a bit sooner.

    Strong virals are short, sharp and to the point -which then gives them a more ‘check this out’ viral nature.

  • Niall Harbison

    I really don’t think it will work the 2nd time. The only thing you can really compare it to are movies which so often fail in a sequel and are very often only done to make financial gain off the back of the first one. Same thing happening here and the audience are fickle and not stupid. They will smell this a mile off for what it is :(

  • Cat Young

    I agree with Paul’s & Joel’s comments about what actually matters is not how many times a video is watched, but the results it generates.

    One of our clients – a plastic surgeon – has been using Video very effectively to generate interest in their services. The ones where the owner talks to camera, as if the watcher is in a consultation, generate immediate feedback, questions and enquiries.

    However, he recently took advice that said most people search on phrases that include the word ‘operation’. So they posted on to YouTube videos of the actual operations (don’t look just after eating!!). These are getting an amazing number of views – much more than the consultation ones – but there is no evidence (yet) that it’s generating enquiries. Are people just watching because their a bit gruesome? Or are they potential patients?
    I believe the former.

    But it’s probably still worth doing as a lot of views must be good for your brand.

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