Branded Video Lives Forever -- If It's Great

There’s nothing that I like better than content produced about my favorite TV shows. I pore over articles dissecting “Mad Men.” And I revel in BuzzFeed lists about “House of Cards.”

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a very clever piece of user-generated content that was released just before the premiere of “Game of Thrones,” season five.

“Dumb Ways to Die (Game of Thrones Edition)” is a two-and-a-half-minute video that combines the song “Dumb Ways to Die” — made famous as a PSA for Metro Trains Melbourne — with an animation of some of the grisliest murders depicted in the HBO series. Of course, played out with those adorable animated characters, those deaths are less horrible and a little more humorous, especially as all of those dead characters dance to the chorus of the song.

Someone made a similar video last year. It used the same song, but without the animation, with footage from the show instead. It is a little less charming and only received a little more than 17,000 views. This new animated version of the video has generated more than 1.5 million views since April 10.

Much as I love “Game of Thrones” and was amused by this video, this post isn’t about the popular show at all. This piece of user-generated content simply generates the value of a well-produced and engaging branded video like Metro Trains Melbourne’s “Dumb Ways to Die”: It can live forever.

Released in November 2012, and created by McCann, the video uses a very catchy melody and cute animation to illustrate a number of ill-advised activities — such as poking a grizzly bear or taking your helmet off in outer space. It is the single most-awarded campaign in the history of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, winning a record 28 awards at the 2013 Cannes Lions.

And as of this year, it is the single most-viewed branded video campaign of all time, having generated more than 284 million views. It overtook the long-reigning Blendtec “Will It Blend” (255 million views), in large part because of parodies like the “Game of Thrones Edition.”

The campaign has a mind-blowing amount of user-generated content associated with it: 185 copies of the original music video, 232 mashups, 159 covers of the song, 186 parodies, and more than 125 other types of user-generated content.

And despite having been released more than two years ago, the campaign has grown by 32.8 million views since the beginning of 2015. And mashups and spoofs generated 18.7 million of those views since January.

So what’s my point?

Branded video is incredibly powerful medium for brands if for no other reason than video lives online forever. Consumers can watch it on YouTube or within an article, copy it or mash it up or spoof it years after brands first uploaded it online.

And if a brand can create a campaign or video that is so powerful or memorable that it becomes a kind of cultural touchstone, then the brand can benefit from years of consumer engagement, like Metro Trains Melbourne.

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