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We’ve seen it all before. Susan Boyle, the Mentos + Diet Coke experiment, the Star Wars kid, and MEP Daniel Hannan – they’re excellent examples of concepts going viral, propelling their protagonists and or content to international ‘fame’ in a matter of days.

Now it has happened again, but this time on Amazon.com. In the last few weeks, sales of a kitschy t-shirt depicting three wolves and a moon have shot up 2,300 %(!) after comments on the online retailer’s website went viral. Amazon user ‘Bee-Dot-Govern’ posted the first review of the t-shirt stating “Fits my girthy frame, has wolves on it, attracts women” but “cannot see wolves when sitting with arms crossed”. This comment helped generate another 454 reviews, many of them ironic, and these have in turn been read by 5,831 readers (figures at the time of writing) effectively making the shirt go viral.

Viral marketing is for many marketers the Holy Grail (making something go viral is easier said than done though). It’s high time MEPs and MEP candidates start thinking about their electorate in a different manner. Just as marketers try to identify individuals with a high Social Networking Potential (SNP) and create viral messages tailored to this segment of consumers in the hope of giving their messages a higher probability of being passed along, so should MEPs.

Generation Z is growing up quickly and politicians will pay dearly if they ignore these digital-natives. It’s time to re-think the traditional campaign poster…

– Emil

(UPDATE 18/06/09: Presently the number of reviews have risen to 1,094 and the number of  people having seen the reviews to 10,754)

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As election posters are strewn across Swedish towns and squares (and across Europe for that matter) one Swedish paper has questioned whether some Swedish candidates are overly touched-up on their election placards.

First, I think it is important to remember that this European election is something of a novelty. Never before has a European election and its candidates made so much (good?) use of technology and both online and offline media. Second, we are already surrounded by touched-up images and videos, e.g. fashion magazines, television ads, and online marketing in all shapes and forms. One of the more famous examples of how pictures are touched-up is the now relatively old Dove Evolution video (below).

Seriously, does it really matter if a candidate is made to look a few years younger on an election poster? Personally, I don’t think so – it’s their choice. I am going to vote for specific candidates based on their approach to particular questions that I find important, not based on how they look on an election poster. How will you vote?

– Emil

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It was no brilliant prophecy to predict that the internet and social media tools would play a major role in this year’s European elections. Content sharing platforms have indeed become surrogate battle fields where political parties and candidates from all countries square off. And video clips are their preferred Weapon of Mass Communication.

The EU video campaign is essentially a war of emotional creativity, with a final objective common to all parties – to get the video going ‘viral’ and spread it as much as possible through the web. Fraternity feelings, political controversy, fun, and coolness are key rating criteria.

Viral campaigning videos have sparked all sorts of controversies throughout the different Member States, potentially initiating debates on Europe (the last one was spread by the European Commission’s spot “20 Years of Liberty” which features a series of historical inaccuracies about Poland) but also on the increasing importance of understanding and using internet media.

– Maxime

See Commission clip “20 Years of Liberty”

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How will you vote in the upcoming European elections? Platforms such as EU Profiler can help you figure out where you stand on the liberal-conservative and Euro-enthusiastic or Euro-sceptic scale, but there’s more to it than that, right?

A recent study conducted by the GfK Polonia research institute in Poland suggests that voting behaviour is still largely dominated by charismatic and well-known personalities. The degree to which candidates employ creative and original campaign methods seem to matter more than the actual details of the party programmes.

We all know that Obama was very talented at this game. He used social media tools to their full potential and managed to extend his personal network of “fans” even further than any showbiz star (except, of course, Ashton Kutcher on Twitter). Many campaigners in Europe are now playing catch-up and the methods are proving to be working quite well – though better for some than others.

Libertas, with its controversial rhetoric, uses the full spectrum of social media tools to its advantage and has managed to create a platform ungoverned by rules on speaking-time and where self-censorship is timid at best. Their webpage is full of 2.0 gadgets and widgets pointing to their Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts (also see Libertas Strikes Back). Yesterday, they claimed to have the most visited webpage of all European parties. But as any geek knows, hits do not equal unique visits, and unique visits do not necessarily equal votes on the big day…

– Agnieszka

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If Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees were European citizens, they could vote in the upcoming elections, because voting is for everyone (literally!). Check out this great video called “At the polling station”, providing a fresh take on what it’s like at a polling station during the European elections, that is, if Freddy and Jason were European citizens…beware.

– Emil

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In view of the EU elections YouTube has launched in co-operation with TV Channel Euronews a new broadcasting service called Questions For Europe, with the aim of “bringing the people closer to the politicians”.

EU citizens will until the 3rd of June be able to upload questions to MEPs that are running for elections. A selection of these questions will then be answered by the candidates, and broadcast on Euronews. Although an excellent initiative, with only 15 questions uploaded and 303 views so far, momentum is still lacking.

But here is hoping it will all change…maybe YouTube can add a bit of spice to the elections?

– Lieneke

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A delight for the French-speakers among us: Newly launched Eurosceptic political group Libertas has turned a Star Wars clip into a political campaign movie now spreading YouTube and Dailymotion. Focused on the French community, Libertas’ movie is attacking the EU Executive over its attempts to regulate cheese and wine. Indeed the European Commission is proposing to regulate the health claims which producers of cheese, butter and cream can make regarding the richness in calcium and vitamins in their products, and is proposing to allow the production of rosé-wine to consist out of simply mixing red and white wine.

In the country of “du vin, du pain and du Boursin” such proposals can not go down well…

– Lieneke

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In a rare demonstration of a good oratory in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, British MEP Daniel Hannan, expressed in no weak terms what he thought of Gordon Brown’s response to the global financial crisis. Hanann’s speech went viral on Youtube on the evening he delivered it – on 24 March – in less than 24 hours it had attracted more than 630,000 views (at the time of writing that figure is close to 700,000!); a new entry on Hannan’s Wikipedia profile was created; over 75 hits are now displayed when searching for Daniel Hannan on delicious.com; and last but not least, the Twittersphere is buzzing with tweets about his speech, its reach and its impact.

Naturally, this is not the first time we see a nice politics and technology combo, however it is most certainly the first time an MEP has reached close to 700,000 people in less than 72 hours.

Clearly, the times they are a-changing…

– Emil

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