The reasons behind what makes certain videos go viral fall into two important categories – personal response and social response. Viral videos are a huge mark of success in the marketing world because they not only reach an incredibly wide audience, but they resonate with people more than almost any other medium. The personal response is determined mostly by the emotions evoked by the content. It is a psychological process called emotional contagion – one person’s emotions trigger similar emotional responses in others, and thus the contagion spreads as more people share on their social media platforms. The social response comes into play with the desire to connect with other people; be it to share information, to relate to others through a common interest, or to support a cause. This blog looks at 8 branded videos that broke the internet, and provides some insight as to why they worked so well.
1. Lost Dog | Budweiser
This is a pretty obvious one – nothing plucks the heartstrings like a lost puppy. Budweiser has a history of producing some incredibly successful Super Bowl commercials and this one is no exception. Just days after it first aired, their “Lost Dog” could be found all over Facebook generating millions of views. The spot features a puppy who loses his way, but eventually finds his way home to be saved from a wolf by his friends, the Budweiser Clydesdales. The storyline, the music, the editing, and the happy ending all worked together to generate an emotional response from viewers that sent it all over social media platforms.
2. Coming Home For Christmas | Heathrow Airport
London Heathrow Airport’s holiday commercial captured the hearts of millions across the Internet as it followed two adorable teddy bears through the airport until they reunite with their loving grandchildren, followed by the message that coming home is “the best gift of all.” Because so many people either travel, have family that travels, or have memories of visiting family for the holidays, the audience for the ad was massive. The spot emphasizes the spirit of the holidays to hit viewers right in their feels – just the place to send videos viral-ing.
3. #LikeAGirl | Always
Relevancy can be an important factor in the motivation to share content, and is one of the reasons why Always’ “Like A Girl” campaign got so much praise. They took the social issues that women and girls face today and attacked them head on – taking a phrase typically meant as an insult and flipping it to become one meant to empower. They used personal testimonials that viewers could resonate with, and flooded social media with a movement (and brand) that both men and women were proud to support.
4. Real Beauty Sketches | Dove
Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” ad utilized a similar strategy to the “Like A Girl” campaign. The video follows an FBI sketch artist as he draws two versions of different women based only on description. The first drawing is of they way each woman describes herself; the second of the way other women describe her. The end result shows how much more critically women see themselves and reiterates the idea that “YOU are more beautiful than you think.” It did a fantastic job of simultaneously touching viewers on a personal level and addressing an incredibly pertinent social issue. The ad was praised all over social media and didn’t take long to hit the viral mark.
5. Worlds Apart | Heineken
In Heineken’s “Worlds Apart” video, relevance to current events played a big part in the concept behind it. After the controversial Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial came out, which many saw as trivializing some pretty heavy political issues, Heineken released a video which zeroed in on the importance of open conversations with those who are different than us. Being that social media is used frequently as a place for open discussion, “World’s Apart” was shared all over the place. Once again, the ad balanced the personal and social effect on viewers seamlessly.
6. The Story of Sarah & Juan | Extra Gum
Extra Gum’s emotional spot follows Sarah and Juan through their love story, and the pictures Juan draws on his gum wrappers after each milestone moment in their relationship. While the ad isn’t speaking on behalf of a certain social issue, it still manages to evoke enough of an emotional response to be shared all over social feeds. It has the “feel good” vibe that makes viewers connect with the characters – and want to share it with their friends so they can feel the love too.
7. Puppyhood | Purina
Purina’s “Puppyhood” spot took the humor (and adorable) route to make its way up to 5 million views just weeks after it’s release. It follows a man who has just adopted a puppy, and the chaos that ensues during their first days together. As always, puppies top the charts when it comes to rocking the emotional boat, so on top of the hilarity, viewers also felt the warm and fuzzies with every scene. The perfect mix of humor and happiness, this video made its way into viewers hearts – and all over the internet.
8. TAYLOR vs. TREADMILL | Apple Music
This ad shows that a video with emotional appeal doesn’t always mean that it’s a tearjerker. Taylor Swift is famously awkward, and her goofy, clumsy attitude makes her relatable to viewers. With the rise of the “love yourself the way you are” social call to action these days, people want to see more than beautiful people with unattainable lives; they want relatability. The ad not only makes the product look fun to use, but it also makes it human. It doesn’t just make viewers laugh, it makes them feel like they’re not alone in their inevitable awkwardness. Humor with a realistic side can go a long way when you’re trying to reach a wide audience.
Posted by Mary Grace Shelly, Social Media/Content Intern at initiate-it, a digital first, full-service agency located in Richmond, VA.