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I recently ran across a video of athletes literally running on water. I saw the video, passed it on (with a fair degree of skepticism), pondered on its implications. Running! On water!

Then, once I got over how cool it looked (and stopped trying to figure out if I could do this myself), I did some Googling. Sure enough it’s not only fake, but an advertising campaign. Now my Internet marketing (and Video SEO) brain kicks in and this video becomes amazing again, but for different reasons. In just one month, it had nearly 4 million views. Here it is, if you haven’t seen it yet:

Where does the marketing come in? For just a second, there’s a close-up shot of the shoes they use to perform the impossible feat. Just a couple seconds, barely noticeable by most standards. Certainly short enough to make marketing directors cringe.

Nevertheless, you can’t argue with four million views. While the impact on sales is yet to be seen, let’s take a look at some other highly successful videos and see why they worked so well in gaining so many views.

Honda Rube Goldberg Machine

Let’s face it, who doesn’t love watching these machines? There’s something about the ridiculous absurdity of having so many parts to accomplish one simple task that simply fascinates us. The genius in this particular video, however, is in how well they effectively demonstrate the car’s functionality. The machine is made up completely of parts from a Honda vehicle, and they keep the machine going by using features found on the car. For example, the windshield wipers turn on automatically from a water stream.

Guitar Hero on a Bike

Guitar Hero and related music based games have seen huge popularity and success in the past decade (hey, I’m a big fan myself). This video takes the concept into a real life situation where a full music track is ridden over on a bike in nearly perfect sync to the song. The beauty of this video is how realistic it looks. You watch the video wondering how long it must have taken to get perfect. Its only downfall is when it was revealed that the dots were added in afterward using special effects. Even with this minor shortcoming, you still hear a song featured in Guitar Hero and see what the game play would look like.

OK Go Music Video

First of all, yes, I consider this a viral Marketing Video. Why? Because this video helped put the band ‘OK Go’ on the map. With 51 million views to date, it can only be estimated how many singles were sold. I never knew they existed before this video found its way into my inbox. It works because of its simplistic and comedic effect of grown men dancing on treadmills. It’s creative, simple, and it looks like it was done in the basement of one of their homes. It also lets viewers hear their song giving them more exposure.

Stolen Nascar Video

This video is a little bit under the radar in terms of total views, but I liked this marketing campaign because of who did it. It was from Taxbrain.com, which takes on the boring topic of taxes (obviously). It’s hard to come up with a good viral video for some topics, but this company proves that it’s possible even for the not-so-obvious industries. They took the resources that were available to them, created a video that would cause some buzz, and got a great amount of exposure. Notice in particular the amount of times the domain Taxbrain.com is mentioned.

LED Sheep

Samsung also jumped onto the bandwagon recently by creating a video of sheep covered in LEDs. The shear absurdity of plastering sheep in LED’s and then herding the sheep to create moving images is enough to arouse the interest in any bored Internet surfer. Plus, the recreation of the Mona Lisa from the LEDs is also an impressive demonstration of the technology behind LED’s televisions. With a URL for Samsung at the end of the video, this video becomes a complete marketing viral video, and then sits back to enjoy its 12 million views over the next year.

Laptop Catching

While a little crude, this is still a great viral video at more than 3 million views. The concept is a couple of guys catching an MSI laptop in their butt cheeks. Even though it’s obviously fake (but real looking enough to be entertaining), the real value in this video, and why I mention it, is because it is a successfull takoff of another video that was also viral (which was a video of a guy impossibly catching sunglasses on his face). Creating parodies of other videos is a great way to piggyback the success of already existing videos.

Will it Blend

It seems hardly appropriate to mention viral videos without mentioning the now famous Blendtec “Will it Blend” videos. It’s probably gotten to the point where any internet marketer groans when they hear mention of these videos, but they persist in providing a near perfect example of viral marketing. It’s so good because:

1. They are entertaining while effectively giving viewers a literal demonstration of their product.

2. They show off their seriously powerful blenders.

3. They are not isolated to one video, but there are now hundreds of these videos. Usually, “sequels” to viral videos fail horribly, but the “Will it Blend” concept will stay fresh as long as there are items to blend.

4. They are very easily created to match current trends. For example the video below takes advantage of the release of the iPad and subsequently getting 6.5 million views in one month. From an SEO perspective, this is brilliant as these videos will show up for searches for the iPad.

A few take aways from the videos above:

  • Create videos that demonstrate your product or service if possible
  • Be creative with your resources.
  • Create parodies of already existing videos, incorporating your business or service
  • Videos should be entertaining by either being comical, or impressive (such as running on water)

I’m on a Horse

Finally, I leave you with another viral video that I found to be a personal favorite (It doesn’t quite make the list because it’s an outright commercial, but it still had a viral great presence on the Web).