How to Ride the Viral Bus


So we hear about viral videos campaigns all the time. They pop up every time we log into our Facebook accounts, every time we fire up our Twitter stream, even when we check our email. But why do some videos end up sent to you, while others get lost in virtual space, disappearing into a black hole of information? While there is a lot of research being conducted on the topic, I would still argue, that we still really don’t know. What we do know however, is that there are a number of key qualities videos do have which enable that viral “spark” to occur. It’s neither art nor science, but a combination of the two.

Take for example, the latest viral-chart-topping hit: a Danish bus commercial. The public relations and advertising teams at Midttrafik aired a commercial earlier last month that ironically made riding public transportation semi-cool (at least in Denmark)!

Nick Carbone, of Time magazine, named this P.R. masterpiece one of September’s hottest viral videos. Why? A number of reasons…

First and foremost, this campaign is entertaining! It sounds simple, but I would argue it’s the key ingredient to viral success… Our society had begun to demand entertainment, almost above all, so it’s easy to recognize that if people are amused, their attention can be captured and taken advantage of, even if only for a few fleeting moments. The Danes keep you smiling with tongue-in-cheek humor that makes even light of its own product.

Second, the unique selling propositions (USP’s) are clearly stated, but in a creative way. Midttrafik uses a short narrative to inform its audience about what its key selling points are (e.g. quick, comfortable, and convenient transportation) without relying on an outdated corny catch phrase, but rather, with a visual representation, i.e. a video.  The ad makes efficient and effective use of its time and our attention is there.

Essentially, what the team at the Danish bus authority did was understand its audience and create content its members would find worthy of sharing. Entertaining, educational (at the most basic level, of course), and of high quality. And because anybody who has taken a bus can relate to the irony, Midttrafik is able to also capitalize on the average bus rider’s emotional disposition towards the public bus system. This  viral video invites you to take a ride on a better public bus system, the Danish bus system; just go with it and smile.



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