Do Viral Videos Work as a Marketing Strategy? Lessons from “The Apprentice”


[tweetmeme] I recently watched the episode of “The Apprentice” where the two teams had to create a video to promote popcorn maker “Popcorn, Indiana.” But this wasn’t just any video – the task was to make a video that would be such a sensation that it would go viral. Easier said than done.

The men’s team wound up winning the challenge because they made a video that was “over the top” – shutting down part of 5th Avenue as they staged a popcorn fight in front of Donald Trump’s building. Here’s the video:


I thought the judges made the right call initially, but after watching the women’s video again online, I don’t agree. I think their video is funnier and a more effective marketing video – even if it didn’t strictly meet the requirements of the challenge. See for yourself:

I liked how the women made the product placement flow with the content of the video. It was funny and the point I got from it is that Popcorn, Indiana’s popcorn is so good, you can’t even stop exercising to eat it!

While the men’s video was outrageous, it didn’t make me want to rush out and buy some popcorn. And isn’t that the whole point of these “corporate” viral videos? Yes, you want people to watch them. But just like TV commercials, the goal should be to stimulate sales, not just create brand awareness. Unless, that IS your goal…

Viral Videos Spark Interest – Coupons Deliver Sales

Remember the Old Spice videos from this summer? They certainly raised the profile of actor Isaiah Mustafa and created buzz around an old brand. But it turns out those viral videos didn’t boost product sales. Instead, AdAge says the increased sales were due to coupon offers. Once the coupons were discontinued, sales dropped – despite the continued popularity of the funny viral videos.

I suspect Popcorn, Indiana’s exposure on The Apprentice and the resulting team videos will increase their sales. But how long a boost remains to be seen. In the meantime, the company is leveraging its appearance with an online contest to see if anyone else can make a better video. And they’re offering special “Apprentice-related” coupons for its products. As we’ve already seen with Old Spice, it may be the coupons that do the trick, rather than the video.

Do you think viral videos can boost sales? Or are they better suited for brand awareness?

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13 thoughts on “Do Viral Videos Work as a Marketing Strategy? Lessons from “The Apprentice”

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