Monday, July 25, 2011

Get Ready For My Sweetness! Or The Importance of Gold-Foil Wallpaper

Super-props for my old acting-school friend Monika Avalos for posting this for me to look at and instantly fall in love.

So, two guys from L.A. who refer to themselves vaingloriously as "The Cousins" have produced a hilarious spot advertised among web enthusiasts as "NSFW". Working at LizardLand Video in Phoenix, this week, I saw no reason why any such video was "not safe for work", around these parts and watched the most hilarious viral video I have seen in some time.

Skittles - "Newlyweds" - Dir. Cousins [ORIGINAL LINK] from Cousins on Vimeo.

The thirty-second ad is a spec ad, meaning it's "not real" according to the popular vernacular. But it's improper to focus on what the video is not. I shall make the case for what the video is - more finely: being viewed damn near a million times in one week.

Put that into perspective: Skittles posted an actual Ad about 5 months ago, replete with advertising budgets and the usual agency rigamarole and so far, it has 4 million views.

Now let's break this down, assuming the actors got involved just for experience (both are actors on the up-and-coming in the world of spoof movies) and the directors, awesome compositor and production crew agreed on a similar premise, here's the art design shopping list I am assuming:

1. One-size-too-large Tux Rental

2. Velvet leopard-print boxers

3. Sexy Wedding dress Rental and shoes/veil combo

4. Thrift store "cheap motel" furnishings

5. Miscellaneous Lumber

6. gold-foil wallpaper.

7. Tiger-print fabric (beddings/carpet)

8. Super-bag of skittles.

One faux stone wall has a 70's-dated lightswitch on it. Even this commercial - that's too damned much attention to detail so I'm going to go ahead and assume that the rock walls are "real" (people's vernacular). But there is no way in hell you can find a wall with that wallpaper in America in this third millennium C.E., so I'm assuming that Cousins built those faux walls, which makes sense given their awkward shape and the fact that you can see dead studio space above the walls in the corners of the room.

Now, I'm assuming the makers of this video could find easier-to-find and cheaper wallpaper, but it's the first thing that caught my eye in this commercial. It catches the light with a subtle pizzazz that says "corny" and matches the similar "corny" elements in the scene: animal print bed dressings, leopard-print velvet boxer-shorts, gold-rim enormous glasses, etc. making for a set design that transports you instantly to a time and place where this "thing" can happen.

Combine that with the - "unique" way in which the spray of skittle-missiles are composited into the video (watch it again, you'll see what I mean) and details like half-empty champagne flutes and ice bucket, the jewelry the actress is wearing, etc. and you have a 30-sec spot with some contiguous eye for detail to paint a scene that gets you straight to the point.

Other than that, I think it's hard to find much else strategic in this piece. These guys wanted to gain some notoriety off of cheap laughs and it seems to be working out for them.

I must say I find it equally important that the video is being viewed on Vimeo, which makes me happy as a fair-weather lover of all things Vimeo for about three years.

What we learn from the Sweetness:

1. Exotic Set Design is important. Transport me to a world where your scene is possible and there is less to distract my eye and lead me down that path of "How amateur is that..."

2. Don't be afraid to rely on a video's uniqueness to carry it!

One day, we will all understand advertising and none of it will work on any of us. Until then, the Snowball rolls on...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Will Twilight Blend? (or How to Piggyback Your Product Onto Apple's)

I wanted an iPhone from the moment Steve Jobs held one in his golden-god fingertips at Macworld 2007. Wanted one BAD.

So, you can imagine my horror when this schmuck with a blender company posted this video with his brand new iPhone...

He does this all the time! With an iPad, an iPhone 4, etc.

I also have been observing for the past year a trend of Twilight Non-fan Spoofs. That's right - videos pretending to be made by loyal Edward/Jacob-ites who are really just out to make fun of the Saga of Lameness. And I find that to be glorious. But what's more important - it makes for HOT Viral power.

See, these people have two things in common:

1. They took the time make videos that looked professionally-made (a rarity in YouTubia)
2. They launched a video before or near-to the release date of a big, highly-anticipated event like the release of a movie or a hot new technology product.

What makes Will It Blend? particularly interesting to me is that it successfully uses the power of viral video to actually MARKET a PRODUCT - something useful to observe for my readers and clients who are interested in the power of viral video to make actually moolah.

George Wright, who came up with Will It Blend? told Bloomberg that he had specific intent to fill the white space in our heads with this clever little campaign.

"Really our whole intent is brand awareness and market awareness," says Blendtec's Wright. "People will remember that there's a blender that will blend marbles if their blender isn't blending ice very well." He says Blendtec videos have been viewed more than 17 million times.

What do we learn from Blending Beautiful Technology and from Hilarious movie spoofs?

1. Find something that is highly-anticipated
2. Make a clever take on it.
3. Pony up for a real video - people want to forward these kinds of videos if they look like time and thought went into them.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

3 Million Views in 6 Months

About 5 months ago, I was on the web trying to figure out what makes videos go viral and I saw a one-month old video link on my YouTube Homepage that was a cute gal singing an alternate version of Beyonce's famous "Single Ladies".

I'm not a fan of the song, myself, but I thought that the artist called Pomplamoose (I assume is both this young lady and her boyfriend? brother? friend?) did a really good job of not only remixing the song creatively but showing it off with some good Post-Production work (editing).

Since video production (especially post-production) is what I do, I re-watched the video again and again appreciating the star quality that it added to the video to see everything from an upright piano to polaroid camera contributing to the production of the track.

I went and found the song again by just searching "cover song" and wouldn't you know it? She has gone from just shy of half-a-million views to over 3 million!

There are Super Bowl Ads that haven't received a fraction of the traffic that this video has.

Now, looking at the video's statistics, the past six months were all kicked off within 24 hours! a Blitzkrieg of YouTube views, if you will.


September 17th, 2009 (DAY 1)
Pomplamoose uploads this video and puts it on their Facebook page. Ultimately this will result in over 200,000 views over six months - not bad.

September 18th, 2009 (DAY 2)
Somebody looks up "single ladies beyonce" or "single ladies" and so do thousands of other people and see this video that's been running around on Facebook for about 24 hours. These links will eventually result in over 230,000 views.

Apparently the video has reached enough coverage at this point that people started talking to their friends about it and they begin looking it up on their smart-phones. This will eventually stack up to almost half-a-million views, by itself.

Apparently by this time, the video was tagged by the staff at YouTube as a hot video and so YouTube posted the video on the YouTube Homepage - eventually this will contribute nearly 600,000 views.

Since then, the video has been viewed more than 3 million times with only YouTube and Facebook. Which leads us to believe that to get to be one of the hottest vids on the internet, you need to build up ridiculous number of views in the first 24 hours and have content that would actually catch the eye of whoever has their finger on the button for the YouTube homepage.

What do we learn from The Single Ladies?
1. Search for a video search term that's HOT
2. Showcase your talent - whether that be music, comedy, interesting facts no one knows about, whatever.
3. Shoot multiple angles of your video and mix them into a video that keeps interest.
4. Post on Social Networks right away.
5. (Pray that the YouTube gods love it)

As the music industry surrenders its awesome power to the people, Democracy lives in the Worldwide Web, artists make their name with only a camera and a beautiful talent and the Snowball rolls on...

Shameless plug: My partners and I make TV Commercials, training videos, DVD's, and web videos for LizardLand Video - the Premier Phoenix Video Production House. Check us out!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Laughing at Nudie Pictures Does Not Make Phil DeFranco Popular

YouTube Annotations do.

For those out there who presume - as I naively did before starting to observe the Snowball - that YouTube is exclusively for posting light-hearted or incredible things  like skateboarding dogs

Skateboarding dog with over 10 million views

...or pranking your gullible wife into doing something silly

A man who has way more views than he deserves, not to mention a wife he doesn't deserve

...I must let you in on the YouTube Viral Video Secret I've discovered!
YouTube videos have FLASH LAYERS. One of them is the video file, itself. The layer directly on top of it is a flash layer into which you can easily add an ANNOTATION - kinda like a POST-SCRIPT NOTE to your video in case you - unlike me - are not a kickass video editor and want to make a quick correction or a little callout to someone or even a link to other content on YouTube or elsewhere. 

Here's how to annotate.

A hilarious comedian known as Phil DeFranco, PhillyD, or "sxephil" is an internet celebrity (No, they really do exist) who takes advantage of this technology to make his THRICE-WEEKLY VIDEOS qualify as instantly viral and exposes a great secret to making your videos go viral. He annotates a LINK TO THE PREVIOUS VIDEO and a LINK TO THE FOLLOWING VIDEO.

Most Recent PhillyD Show

Every episode of the PhillyD is hilarious, but then so is my dearly-beloved We Got That B-Roll (click) Video and a sister video also made by  comedic troupe "Cream" called Sinus Rinse Addiction (click). And yet my Sergey videos don't generate as much as a tenth of the traffic that PhillyD does. 

Why? I have a theory...

Phil-philes like myself only watch Philly DeFranco once in a while but when we do, we can't get enough with a single 5-minute episode so we allow ourselves to be suckered into the convenient buttons that take you to the following or previous video. Amused, we can't help but eventually either comment, rate or forward, embed and link to his videos where people can also rate, comment and embed/link. So, using your own video to promote your other videos in order to leverage advantage of the fact that if someone is looking at your YouTube Video, now, then they have subconsciously alotted at least an hour to waste on the internet because their wife is napping or their boss has taken up golf on Wednesday mornings or something.
Clever, sxephil! Clever!

What do we learn from being "Phil'd in" by sxephil?
1. Produce a SERIES OF VIDEOS, not just one video.
2. ANNOTATE LINKS betwixt your series of videos.
3. Make the content of the videos EPISODIC by posing it as a show and not posting all of the videos at once.

One day, there will be chips implanted into our brains that calculate what we want and serve it up on the screen in front of us and become the ultimate ruin of our species.
Until then, the Snowball rolls on.

Shameless self-promotion - Joe Rawlins is a partner with in LizardLand Video the Premier Phoenix Video production firm.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

"World's Largest" Counts for Something

In model Airplanes, I mean to say.
In my previous post, I described the awesomeness of one my all-time fave YouTube videos - the infamous "We've Got That B-Roll!" clip. But I was dismayed when, in the same night, I discovered that while my dearly beloved favorite video production-themed clip had a mere 350,000 views - this other clip I practically stumbled upon had well over 5 million views...

I have to say, I think this plane is really cool. But come on! For most of the video, it's just sitting on the ground, taxiing around, etc.
Yet, just now, when I searched for this clip to capture the embed tag, the most recent viewer comment was from only an hour ago and there were several more within the past hours.
This video has had a steady stream of visitors around the clock for more than 2 years!
A few things are noteworthy, here. First of all, the B-Roll video is only a few months old, whereas this video was posted a little more than 2 years ago. So perhaps the B-Roll video will grow exponentially.
But the obvious question on my mind was who sits and watches something like this? I posted on my facebook for an RC enthusiast to get in touch with me and one did. Here is our pseudo-interview.

Here's what I learned:

JOE: How often do you go on YouTube?
EZRA: PRobably a couple times a week.
JOE: When you go on YouTube, how often would you say you search for content related to RC Airplanes?
EZRA: Just about every time I go onto YouTube, I find myself watching some videos of RC airplanes.
JOE: How often would you say you look up content unrelated to RC Airplanes?
EZRA: Only once in a great while I will find myself watching something other than an RC airplane-related topic.
JOE: If you were to guess, how many people would you say videotape their planes in action at events?
EZRA: 1 out of 10.
JOE: How often do you get sent a video of RC airplanes?
EZRA: It happens several times a month. Usually I get them from the leader of one of the clubs I belong to.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The B-Roll Teaches Us About Viral - Sounds gross!

I shall preface this by explaining that in video terminology (by today's standards) B-Roll refers to stock footage clips that you shoot or buy to fill space in a video that illustrates a concept, sets the mood or just generally breaks up the monotony of listening to someone gab on.
Well, one producer thought it was so funny how generic most stock footage is (and he's totally right) that he made THIS:

Okay, at current count, the number of views on this singular post are 390,193.
Underneath the video on this YouTube page you will find the Statistics that show exactly where the lion's share of these views are coming from.
On NOV 29th, the video was posted onto YouTube and since then, 67,650 people have either found it in search results, been forwarded the video in emails or like me, heard about it from a friend (in my case my business partner Paul Hudson - who saw it on, a forum dedicated to video production), and one night I even saw it on the Comedy Central Tosh.0 Late Night cable program.
The next day was the first time someone referred to it to on Facebook. Since then, it has been viewed 15,266 times from Facebook. Not bad, but dwarfed by comparison to the first figure.
But three days later, someone actually copied the Embed Tag and embedded it into Facebook and since then it has drummed up 24,746 views. Apparently Facebookers are too lazy to click on links to content or they are drawn to clicking on something that they can see - hmmm. Lazy internet-browsers or visually-stimulated browsers? Maybe a hybrid of the two.
A few here and there websites like, and even Twitter all yielded something, but the real impressive output was with a whopping 35,923 views.
What the heck is It's a Social Network like Facebook or Myspace but instead of posting what you're doing while waiting at the clinic (or not doing, like thinking about some of your choices in life) you post a link to something on the internet and your fellow webnauts bump the links up or down in an Adam-Smith-inspired "invisible hand" of internet Democracy for what is the coolest content on the web.
What do we learn from this?

1) Know your audience
2) Catch their eye by embedding the video, not just linking to it
3) Encourage your viewers to embed it in Social Networks, particularly if it is funny or generally likely to withstand the harsh and critical sieve of Web-surfer democracy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Video Snowball Project

Here, I shall chronicle some of the details of my latest project: Video Search Optimization. I will dedicate some time to regularly post information about my research into the topic of using online video aggregators like YouTube in conjunction with Social Media sites like Facebook to enhance your business exposure online.

The company that I partner with, LizardLand Video in Phoenix, AZ, is the premier Phoenix video production house. I am proud to be working with LizardLand and Niche Media to pioneer this exciting new hybrid system in marketing and eCommerce.

Read our press release about Video Search Optimization: