Opa-ing the viral factor

The catchy tunes and crazy dance moves of Psy's Gangnam Style music video hit the world with a bang.

If you thought its popularity has died down by now, you've got it wrong. In the past three days alone, the music video on YouTube recorded an overwhelming 10 million views, bringing its total views to over 280 million since its release in July.

Its popularity got everyone Opa-ing in different styles, from Gangnam Raya Style toGangnam Sabah Style here in Malaysia.

A+M couldn't ignore this phenomenon and asked agency professionals what they thought got the whole world into this Opa frenzy and what brands can look out for when cashing in on viral marketing.

To Adrian Cheah, account director at JWT Kuala Lumpur, it was the simple fact of it being ridiculously catchy.

"Essentially, it's just an over-the-top video of a man who does a comical dance and sings repetitive lyrics that don't make sense to most of us.

"Gangnam Style's lyrics may be in Korean, but its visuals are clearly American. It is a pastiche of pop video clichés so familiar you almost feel you know what Psy is singing," he said.

"The dance moves are simple enough to mimic and its easily copied scenarios - such as the elevator scene - call out to be aped. Psy has produced a video that is born to spawn and the parodies have further facilitated this," adds Cheah.

Jordan Chua, head of digital for Tequila\Malaysia thinks it's the entertainment factor that got people glued to it.

"The video has high entertainment values. It was relevant where the viewers resonated with it, moreover, it was riding on current trends," said Chua.

One brand that caught the Gangnam craze was ING Insurance with its ‘Help Us Find Orange' Facebook campaign, which had its lion mascot named Orange mimic Psy's moves in the launch video.

More and more brands are catching on to not only the Gangnam craze, but the viral factor that online videos alone can create.

"These days, viral videos are everywhere and everyone wants one. That's because they are a cheap way to spread any message to the world," said Chua.

The problem Chua sees with this is that what makes a video viral is often not understood until it has gone viral.

"There are many videos out there that have all the elements of a video that get millions of hits, but they languish in obscurity. There are other videos that don't seem to have any magic, and yet they hit the front page of every social media site.

"How often do you hear the line, "Let's create some viral videos and post it on YouTube. It is the easiest way to reach our audience"? Is it really that simple to create an asset, seed it into the digital space, hoping it gets viral organically?

"The answer is no," said Chua.

He believes there is no one formula that can guarantee viral success.

For Cheah, many local and global brands, much like the general public, have started to actively create videos on various topics or categories in hopes of it going viral so that they can become famous overnight.

Essentially, in creating a video as a part of a campaign, Cheah says the video must not overtake the essentials of the brand.

"There are four very crucial things to consider before deciding to create a video with the hopes of it going viral: identify your tastemakers to introduce the video to; determine if your video has what it takes to generate participation; share the video or create a parody of it; is the concept completely unexpected; and have fun creating it," adds Cheah.

One can hardly guess what the next big thing will be on YouTube or social media platforms. But what is certain at this point is that Psy doesn't seem likely to leave us anytime soon.