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Posted on 04.05.2012

For Marketers Who Want Their Commercials to Go Viral: Be coy with your logo and “out there” with joy and surprise.

Using infrared eye-trackers and technologies that analyze facial expressions, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School has predicted what’s needed in commercials to make them more apt to go viral.

The bottom line:

1. Don’t flaunt your brand logo. Show it repeatedly, but subtly.

2. Use joy and surprise, and use it early.  People stay more engaged and stick with an ad when it starts with joy or surprise.   Special note:  surprise is good; shock is not.  Funny is good; nudity keeps a lot of people from ‶sending it on.※

3. When creating a video ad, think roller coaster.   People easily get bored, so you have to turn it on and off, creating an emotional roller coaster that pushes emotions from joyful to surprise; tension to relief.   And all this in 30 or 60 seconds. 4. Only a subset of viewers will pass along an ad, no matter how joyful, surprising, mercurial or logo-subtle:  primarily, people who are extroverts and/or egotistic.  The extroverts are just out there sharing and having fun.  As for the egotists, the author speculates that egotism is a trait of someone who shares an ad link because that kind of personality wants to be considered, ‶in the know,※ media savvy and connected.  Who knew? The observations in the article in the Harvard Business Review aren’t that much of a surprise, but it has to be a monumental challenge to convince most company CEO’s to downplay their logo.  And I can’t even imagine making a presentation of a new ad built around these pointers to ‶the suits※ in most corporate boardrooms. Seriously, how in the world do these agencies get this kind of risky promotion past the corporate gatekeepers?      

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