Creating content that gets everyone talking

Updated: Saturday September 21, 2013 MYT 7:43:54 AM

The viral factor


Creating content that gets everyone talking.

“WHAT does the Fox say?” Two minutes into the video and I still don’t know if I should turn it off or keep on watching the grown man in a bird costume going “Cheep Cheep”. Similar to perhaps 90% of today’s Internet users, my decision to click on a video or article link depends on the frequency it appears on my Facebook feed. I do question this decision-making process sometimes, like two weeks ago when the Internet exploded with the music video by two Norwegian brothers called Ylvis. The video showed adults dressed in animal costumes dancing in the forest churping, quacking and mewing. The main question in the video centred around the question “What sound does a fox make?”I finished watching the video feeling confused and what better way to clear this confusion than check the Facebook chatter. I saw mixed responses to it online − some found it funny, a majority didn’t know what to make of it and one friend had actually found a video on YouTube that had the recordings of a screaming fox.

Turns out that the video titled The Fox was created originally to promote the new season of the brothers’ TV show.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Bard Ylvisaker credited the video’s popularity to a “combination of a silly idea and a great production”. He also admitted to not knowing why the video was such a hit. To date The Fox has been viewed over 38 million times on YouTube.

It came as no surprise to me that The Fox would go viral. I once felt the same level of disbelief when I watched a Korean man riding an invisible horse, and that video is now hitting close to 2 billion views on YouTube. It’s hard to determine the ‘viral factor’ of a video. Brands, of course, are constantly trying to figure this out.

There have been apps launched earlier this year that claim to be able to predict the reason why a video goes viral. Tech news site Mashable reported earlier this year of a UK-based firm called Unruly that supposedly had an algorithmic tool which helped advertisers gain insight into the psychological, social and content triggers that affect the success of their video content.

The company was said to be able to know the word-of-mouth potential of their client’s video before they spent anything on media.

Humans are fickle creatures, and if a tool could predict if your commercial is the nextOld Spice, then my timeline is going to be filled with even more videos to click.

The one video that flooded my timeline this week was from Thailand. I usually do enjoy going on YouTube to watch Thai commercials, these ads are usually hilarious and often times have nothing to do with the product they are trying to sell.

This video, on the other hand, evoked a slightly different emotion; the first minute into it and I was already sobbing onto my keyboard. The three-minute commercial, shot with beautiful cinematography, tells the tale of a kindly noodle seller that saves a young boy who stole medication for his sick mother. The seller pays for the stolen medication and sends the boy off with a bag of vegetable soup.

The story jumps ahead 30 years later and we find out that the noodle seller is ill. In order to pay the medical bill his daughter is forced to sell their home. The daughter, however, wakes up to a paid bill and a note that states “All expenses paid 30 years ago, with three packs of painkillers and a bag of veggie soup.”

The ad ends with the tagline Giving is the best communication and we find out that it is by True Move, a Thai mobile operator. Launched on YouTube slightly over a week ago, the ad has garnered over 9 million views. Personally I didn’t really see the connection between the ad and the mobile company it was made for, but the ad was undeniably well-crafted and carried a universal message that was worth sharing.

In fact, both the The Fox and True Move’s commercial didn’t have a direct connection with the product which it was selling, yet upon going viral it served its purpose as it gave plenty of positive publicity to its creators. Be it a man dressed up in a bird costume chirping or seeing the kindness of a stranger, going viral is not about creating content that pleases everyone but content that gets everyone talking.

Former journalist MALATI SINIAH used to cover news in the Ad&Marketing world, she now lives and breathes it through the running of a new online youth portal that she’s part of. Apart from watching viral ads on YouTube, she also enjoys YouTube karaoke and thinks you should try it too.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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