Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

How to Make a Viral Video: HBO Asks YouTube Users to Promote “Flight of the Conchords”

Viral videos–you-gotta-see-this clips Web surfers pass along to each other without any prompting–are every marketer’s dream. Except that making them is easier said than done, for obvious reasons.

Here’s HBO’s clever attempt: Use an existing video that’s already popular on Google’s (GOOG) YouTube and try to piggyback off of that.

Time Warner’s (TWX) pay cable channel’s “Flight Of The Conchords,” its comedy series about two Kiwi slacker/musicians trying to make it in New York, is already a YouTube sensation. So no need to reinvent the wheel: To promote the new season of the show, the channel is asking the site’s users to lip-synch their own versions of one of the show’s most popular clips.

The carrot: The best versions, collected here, will get mashed into a best-of compilation clip that will air after one of the new shows next year. To get things moving, Deep Focus, the interactive ad agency running the campaign for HBO, bought ads on a handful of video Web sites that specialize in comedy clips. And those sites in turn created their own versions, using sort-of-well-known folks like Andy Dick and College Humor’s Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld.

The promotion just kicked off last week, so it’s too early to tell whether any of the new clips will take off–and more important, bring HBO more viewers and/or subscribers. But at least give the channel credit for trying to harness the audience that YouTube and others have aggregated.

Here’s the original version:

And here are some pre-seeded takes…
College Humor (note the MTV crew in the background):

Funny Or Die:

My Damn Channel:

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google