top of page
Articles Library

Not All Viral Videos Are Good Content Marketing

Sarah Austin

I love cat videos as much as any other girl, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that ads with cats are a sure way to get me to buy cat food.

Don’t get me wrong, the BuzzFeedVideo sponsored by Friskies titled “Dear Kitten” is a fun way to spend three minutes, but the eight seconds that talks about wet food coming in armored claw-proof containers at the two-minute mark and the 15 seconds of static ad at the end of the video didn’t make a lasting impression, especially since I don’t own a cat at the moment.

If I decided to get one, Friskies might get my pet-food purchases, but the big winner would be PetSmart, which would sell me a kitten, a bed for my kitten, a $300 electronic litter box so I didn’t have to scoop said kitten's poo, and a laser because that 22 seconds in the video spent on laser pointers totally made me want to play with kittens and lasers.

You may have noticed that I trailed off there for a minute. Cat videos do that to you. You watch a video, and then you say to the person sitting next to you, “Did you see that cat named Maru that jumps into the big box? It got like 80 million YouTube views. Isn’t that insane?” Which, of course, is the problem with most viral videos. They aren’t content, they are filler. We watch them and we never know what they were about, or why we care, and so 16 million views later they haven’t made a lasting impression.

Let me tell you about a different viral video. It was not as cheap to make as the Friskies cat video, which likely I could have made for $300 on a weekend.

Kevin Hart and Dave Franco star in the Madden NFL 15 video from EA Sports, and there is less than 15 seconds of footage of the game that it is an ad for. I am so out of touch with sports I had to ask a friend why it was called Madden (he was a commentator who has been part of the EA franchise since 1984). I don’t own an Xbox One, Xbox 360 or PlayStation.

I don’t have the foggiest as to the rules to football. I love to go to games, eat food, yell and jump up and down when everyone else does, but I have no delusion that I am an NFL fan or a gamer. However, I had to be talked out of buying the game and a console to play it on, because I am competitive, I like Twitter wars and I couldn’t get the song out of my head.

Madden Season is content marketing. I watched the video and then went looking for how much it would cost to buy the game and a console. I then watched other trailers for the game. I basically went from never having heard of Madden to deciding I was going to own it in three minutes.

As a marketer this is everything you want in an ad. I was entertained, I was informed, I was ready to buy. EA is good at this -- it has been for years. Even before there was a YouTube in 2002, EA was doing videos that passed by email that depicted how various countries celebrated wins at World Cup as ads for its FIFA franchise. The ads resonated with people who were only interested in soccer once every four years and had no understanding of the game, but it worked because they were emotional, well informed and sharable.

Those same rules apply today. The best content marketing doesn’t feel like an ad -- it feels like content.

Friskies missed the other rule for the best content marketing: it makes you want to go get the product right now. BuzzFeed is new to the game, so while I’m sure they made a mint off the ad, Friskies should not count it as a huge success.

One last thought: I’m not responsible for you singing the Madden Season song the rest of the day, or adding the phrase, “I will write the check your face can’t cash, and make you pay your bills” to your vocabulary.

What do you think are some of the most effective pieces of content marketing? Let us know in the comments section below.


If you enjoyed this article, receive free email updates!

Thanks for subscribing!

Join 20,000 subscribers who receive our newsletter with
resources, events and articles

Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page