NTT Docomo Touchwood: how ads get viral

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A thousand views a few days ago to 1.2 million views as of now. I am referring to the commercial for NTT Docomo’s Touch Wood phone SH-08C.

When it comes to TV commercials, placing it on YouTube either before or after airing it has become a default option. Some videos are placed on YouTube with an express intent of making them viral. Unfortunately you cannot ‘make’ a viral video; you can only hope the video will ‘go’ viral. Going beyond mere hope, certain aspects about the ads can help it to go viral. Like in the Touch Wood ad.

– At first pass, it’s riveting. You are intrigued to find out what’s going to happen next.

– There are certain moments in the film which have repeat value – for me it was when the balls go off the bridge and fall in to the ‘net’ on the sides.

– There is a reward for the viewer’s attention and engagement in terms of a message.

– It evokes a ‘wow, that’s cool’ reaction.

Now since the last frame is in Japanese, a lot of people thought that the ad was not practicing what it was trying to preach i.e forest conversation. That perhaps explains the negative comments on YouTube. I dug this up on the net:

The mobile phone is made with the surplus wood of trees culled during thinning operations to maintain healthy forests. The prototype was created in collaboration with Sharp Corporation, Olympus Corporation and “more trees,” a reforestation project founded by musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and others.

So the commercial may be laugh out loud funny, have great special effects or based on a great concept. But it gets viral only if it (a) rewards the consumer in some fashion – make him laugh, surprise or amuse him and (b) has some pass along value. What say?

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