Viral video on a diet

by Nigel Hollis | August 05, 2013

By Jarrod Payne, Associate Account Director, Millward Brown

Just when it seemed that everyone in the marketing world was starting to get to grips with viral video, the Internet, as it does from time to time, has shifted the goal posts once again. The culprit this time is the new craze of short video clip sharing to video sharing services like Vine

On the face of it, six second, looping video clips shot from a mobile phone seem to have limited appeal. After all, before Twitter’s acquisition of the platform, traffic was fairly low and not too many people were taking an interest in the concept. 

The last six months have, however, changed this perception rapidly. Vine has quadrupled its U.S. iPhone user base and the desktop site now garners millions of unique visitors per month. Add to this mix the recent Vine Android app (the dominant mobile operating system) and a similar offering from Instagram, the trend of micro-video sharing is set to continue. 


Vine's incredible growth, teamed with the fact that branded video posted to Vine is more likely to be shared than other branded video, means that brands are beginning to take notice. The challenge to brands is to create branded micro-video, just six seconds long, that has the potential to be shared on a platform that is fundamentally different.

Given this challenge, it is important to remember that the fundamentals of advertising do not change. What is needed is merely a change in mindset to suit the platform. First and foremost, creativity is key. On Vine, this has become increasingly important given the dramatic increase in the quality of the videos being uploaded in recent months. Without a creative hook, the video is likely to be lost in the massive volume of content that is being uploaded every day, and if it is not creative enough to be shared, then we run the risk of extensive wasted effort. 

What makes creativity so key here is similar to what makes creativity matter for brand viral video generally – it needs to be entertaining enough to be shared as content in an organic fashion. The video should also have the brand as the hero, the catalyst, the reason for the video’s existence. After all, producing enjoyable and engaging content that is not remembered in the name of the brand is likely to be ineffective as a marketing tool. 

Finally, it is essential that the message the video is meant to convey is single-minded and simply articulated. This is an important consideration in all advertising, but in six seconds this becomes an absolute necessity.

The only thing left to do is go forth and make some short, funny, exciting and well-branded videos! You can watch some brand Vines here. What do you think of them? Please share your thoughts.


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  1. Jarrod Payne, August 05, 2013
    Completely agree Sue!

    The risk of the platform's growth and flexibility means that if you aren't quite there in terms of the creative you will be discarded very quickly! You can see this in the amount of content that is quite average (or worse) interspersed with great content.

    The point about the creative amplification is a good one as well, essentially the elements that make good TV ads relate to good Vine videos - is it well branded, enjoyable and engaging and does it tell me something about the brand. For me Vine makes that messaging part quite tricky because trying to communicate more than one thing is likely to lead to too many messages and that will lead to a lack of clarity and a less enjoyable product.
  2. Sue Elms, August 05, 2013
    I love the idea of Vine as the visual equivalent of the 140-characters or less ethos of Twitter.

    Lots of plus points:  it's a very flexible platform, very creative, immediate, there's something for Burberry which looks as though it could've been filmed this morning then posted almost straightaway so it gives brands that immediacy some of them need. The Lacoste thing works very well, good example of a powerful creative hook with brand as hero and now giving the brand a great kinaesthetic mnemonic. The Gap film is nice - a 'short' film about shorts... not entertaining enough to be shared in itself, but potentially can inspire lots of copycat ads of people’s own “shorts” – assume they will seed this?

    On the challenging side. Simple, single-minded messaging is fine but it has to be creatively amplified, ideally by the unique aspect of the media moment - Orangina does the message but delivers nothing else of interest. Quality will be a big issue – there’s tons of rubbish already but then that gets relegated to the past pretty quick – but the good ones look pretty cool.

    Overall, good creative people will love having the technology to do something clever, intrusive, inclusive and interesting.

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