When I began this blog post (check your watch), Volkswagen's "The Force" video had about 3.1 million views - IN JUST TWO DAYS. By the time you are reading this, the views could be....(you guess!). Probably not a record, but worth noting.
As was reported in Mashable, Volkswagen created this as a Super Bowl advertisement. We all know that companies gear up for the Super Bowl. They pay gobs of money because....a lot of people watch the Super Bowl.
However, about two years ago, companies began to test a "pre-release" of their Super Bowl advertisements. Sort of a: "Let's see what this social media buzz is about about" test.
I'm hoping to hear more about the strategy behind this early release on YouTube. The agency behind this, Deutsch, is certainly a killer at producing great TV ads. (Think: "Snapple," "DirectTV" and the California Milk ads with Cow auditions.) But I'm not sure it was their call to go viral early.
For now, all I can surmise is:
- Put a cute kid in a Darth Vader costume, add a dose of very subtle vexation and pint-sized physical humor, all the while listening to a very familiar score and then close with child-like amazement and fulfillment. Add in about the best 60 seconds of editing I've seen in a TV ad in quite some time. (Did ILM have executive producing credits on this?)
- Someone said: "This has GOT to go on YouTube, now." Any parent, especially moms, instantly fell in love with this poor kid, and his astonished "look" at the end. You can so read his mind, "Did I do that?" It came at a moment when the world was a bit crazy, so we needed a laugh. We posted this cute video on our Facebook pages, tweeted it and, boom, an overnight hit.
- I'm sure about 5 percent of the listed views are repeats as co-workers and families tugging at sleeves, saying "Come over here, you've got to see this."
I can tell you that I now like the Passat because of this ad. Seriously. They gave this car just the right about of "classy" look to be a "sale."
So, now what?
Is there a strategy to keep the momentum going?
I'm sure my fellow PR colleagues would love the chance. Do you leave it as viral video and hope people stay glued to their screens during the second-quarter commercial breaks? Or, do you try to get some news media coverage about the "pre-bowl" buzz of this gem? Who is the little guy in the costume and how many "takes" did it take to get those great little "moves" of frustration and amazement? What did Lucas think of it? Will there be a sequel? (It is based on a movie, after all).
If we needed any reminder of the power of social media, more than 3 million hits in 24 hours is a good start. No, that's a great start. Hey, Volkswagen, you just made an advertisement that was viewed by 3 million people and you didn't have to pay a cent for placement. Think this may shake up some traditional advertising channels, like Fox?
Which brings me to the final consideration: Where does it really go from here? We now live in the world of "metrics." Will "The Force" capture more than our views?
That galaxy is not so far, far away.