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Is there really no such thing as a viral video? #DancePonyDance

Posted by Joe McNamara on 5th March 2013



One common misconception about PR and advertising is that a viral video is a simple, cost-effective way of getting guaranteed traction for your brand on social media. As tech PRs, we often say there is no such thing as a viral video. Videos are either good or bad, and whether or not they go viral is to a large extent out of your control.

And then we get Three’s latest ad campaign, its first major brand campaign since 2009, a Shetland pony tapping along to the beat and moonwalking across the cliffs of Scotland. It’s quite a break from Three’s brand strategy for the last two years that has been a series of quite techy adverts boasting about its ultrafast mobile network.

Those principles are communicated more subtly this time. You can read into the song choice, ‘Everywhere’ by Fleetwood Mac, as the term ‘everywhere’ has featured prominently in the operator’s brand messaging, simply saying that you can get mobile internet everywhere.

Increasing the shareability

I think this is where Three has really excelled. Obviously, the video is excellent and people wouldn’t feel compelled to share it unless it made them laugh or they thought the pony was just cute. However, Three wanted people to share it, so have also made it easy for them

The whole point when Three says ‘Silly stuff. It matters. Keep internetting.’ is that it wants people to share videos such as this on their mobiles when they see them. However, in the short-term, the catchy #DancePonyDance hashtag has now exploded on Twitter.

It has been shared more than 500k times across all social platforms after the first weekend of airing. This has helped drive a whopping one million YouTube visits during that time. A great achievement, but we must remember, this is more than just a viral video.

The power of advertising

Without taking away from the beauty of this campaign, we have to remember that this is a broadcast advertising campaign first and foremost. Paying for good TV air time gives the video a huge initial reach, rather than starting from scratch and relying on shares like a viral in its purest form.

TV advertising is the ultimate cheat to get your video plastered across the internet, and the process of sharing content on this channel will doubtless improve with the rise of the connected TV.

What’s impressive is how sticky the video has been made. The #DancePonyDance hashtag and the message that silly stuff matters act almost as a call to action to get people to share it. Not to mention the fact it just plays on people’s base needs; a classic 80s number and a cute dancing pony.

Joe McNamara