If you haven’t heard yet, a video created by Metro (which is like Melbourne’s Cityrail) has generated over 8 million views on YouTube. This was a safety campaign talking about how basically you shouldn’t jump in front of trains or do other dum things.
So anyway, this video launched and they hoped for a good result but it blew past all expectation. You see the original idea was to target people in Melbourne with a a safety message (you see these all the time in Sydney, like those big posters telling you to mind the gap between the train and platform).
Of course with the internet you can’t really contain a message and especially with YouTube, once it’s out there th whole world has access to it. Well this vdeo was so good that eventually people started sharing it and it simply blew up. Checking on Wikipedia, Melbourne has a population of 4.1 million, and considering the video on YouTube has over 8.4 million views, you could assume that it is the equivalent to everyone in Melbourne watching it twice (the Metro YouTube channel owner would have more precise stats of exactly how many people are watching the video from each country, I can’t know that information).
Anyway it’s true that as soon as a viral video comes out people start analyzing why it has garnered so many views and try to replicate the success. Considering I’ve been in video production practically my whole life I thought I might throw in my views on it and the experience that I have from videos that have generated a lot of views and others that have generated very little.
By the way watch the video below if you haven’t seen it all ready
P.S. Between the time I wrote this article and embedding the clip the video has gotten an extra million or so views. It’s crazy.
Violence and Danger
Violence and danger are pre requisites for an engaging experience. That’s why most films you see that make big money in the cinemas have violence or at the very least drama that could lead to violence. This video simply goes all out with grizzly death scene after death scene. There is simply no way you would see so much death and violence (especially coming from a government organization which are known for being very boring) and not want to share it with a friend. While people will talk about how genius this piece is it’s actually really simple, lots of violence. The violence is done with cartoon characters and a happy theme in the background which adds to the contrast and makes it artistic and interesting (instead of just violence for violence’s sake).
In fact if you go on YouTube one of the most viewed videos are street fights/gangster and prison documentaries and war footage. People love violence. Of course you can’t just come out and create some violent video, you may get a lot of views but it’s not going to look good for your brand/service. However if you can create something interesting/artistic then it’s the perfect combination.
It Doesn’t Preach
Okay the whole purpose of this video is to tell people to not cross the tracks and do other silly things at train stations that could get them killed. However the video doesn’t get into this straight away, in fact the first half of the video makes no mention of trains whatsoever. Viewers (and especially the YouTube audience) hate watching an advertisement, that’s the reason we’re on YouTube! So if people see your video and they realize immediately that it’s an ad they will IMMEDIATELY leave. This video does well because it’s actually not even obvious what it does (in fact that creates some interest – like what is this all about, making people want to watch further).
It has a cool jingle that stays in your head. “Dumb ways to die, so many dumb ways to die”. This sticks in your head and you’re probably going to end up singing it after you watch it and when one of your friends says “What the hell are you singing?” you can show them the video and so the ‘virus’ spreads. They even have a song you can download from iTunes.
This video has a good combination – unimaginable violence and being funny at the same time. It’s great. Kind of like Jackass. Actually the video is more funny then violent (the focus is more on that).
Whenever you do something completely unexpected, or film someone reacting to something unexpected it’s always classic. No one expects a video like this.
That’s all the things I can think of at the moment. Also you don’t have to be violent to create a high engagement with your video, but you do need some drama to get engagement. Controversy is also good however inerestingly enough this video really lacks any controversy (besides the controversy from being so violent, but because it’s so cartoonish no one would really have an opinion). This is so much better than those lame smoking ads where they cut open a liver.
Finally running across the train tracks at night is no longer cool, it’s just a dumb way to die.
P.S. Notice the YouTube video also links to http://dumbwaystodie.com where people can learn more and they even have setup a Tumblr blog – http://dumbwaystodie.tumblr.com/. I wonder how much traffic came to the website from the YouTube video. Anyway, great work.