There are still clients who will look at you over a boardroom table and ask, with a straight face, that you create a viral video for them. It's conventional then to wait five or ten seconds, to ensure they don't burst into laughter and declare you punk'd.
If they don't, then nope, they're serious.
Translating from clientspeak, what they're asking is: "Take this pocket change and produce a video that will amass the spontaneous self-spreading adoration of millions. Oh, and don't spend a dime on media."
Anything else? A formula for cold fusion? Locate Jimmy Hoffa? Get Bell Canada to admit a mistake?
I beg your pardon. I don't mean to be Norman Naysayer. People routinely create viral videos, just as some routinely write New York Times Bestsellers, and others win the Powerball. The former two require a mysterious combination of skill, timing, and luck.
Have a look at one of the more recent virals. It's got a snappy little backstory. First though, see if you can figure out what has lured more than 20 million views. Including you and me.
"First Moon Party" is actually a sequel to an earlier and almost-as-ingenious film, Camp Gyno. Which began when the president of a Tampon Subscription company (who knew?) buttonholed a couple of friends from BBDO, the writing/directing team of Jamie McCellandt and Pete Marquis, and asked their help creating a video.
For Camp Gyno, they cast a brilliant 10-year-old (I know, I know- but even at 10 she was too good not to cast) and shot the film over one day at a camp in Cold Spring NY.
Cat Flushing The Toilet it ain't. Unlike the rags-to-riches "Charlie Bit Me" sorts of virals, this is a first rate production. Great acting. Great direction, photography, and music. There's a story circulating that it was produced for $6,000, which is partly true. The production company, and almost certainly others, worked free of charge. (To have this on your reel, wouldn't you?)
Sure there are formulas for creating viral videos, just as there are formulas for winning lotteries, becoming UN Secretary General, and winning the Nobel Prize for Physics. All equally effective, so far as I know.
But a couple of factors give "First Moon Party" a little extra push into the viral mesosphere.
THE JOY OF THE FORBIDDEN SUBJECTAny daughter's father knows that so much as acknowledging the existence of menstruation is akin to tossing Darth Vader a Twoonie and telling him to grab you a coffee, black, two sugars. Yet this film (to shift metaphors) saunters across this forbidden turf in big honkin' steel toe boots, hands in pockets, whistling a showtune.
The very subject of menstruation, like death, bankruptcy, and hairpieces, is so wonderfully awkward, it's natural fodder for a viral video. Years ago a friend at the old Radio Bureau told me the ad category that fetched the most consumer complaints, by far, was feminine hygiene.
On that basis, First Moon Party's fearlessness is its strength, with its attitude of 'yeah, it's menstruation kid, get over it.' It thrives on its own lack of respect for the 'forbidden' subject. They smacked the beehive with the hockey stick and got away with it.
I'm going to stop the deconstruction here, lest you get the idea that First Moon Party operates on a transparent, replicable formula. Suffice it to say I laud the skill of the filmmakers. I hope they had a blast working on the project.
And I hope they bought a Powerball ticket.
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