Here is an article written by Erik Sherman for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.
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(MoneyWatch) A standard tool these days for marketers trying to attract public attention is the viral video. Record something clever, funny or just plain weird enough and you might find it reaching millions of people around the world.
Here are some of the most interesting marketing videos of 2012. Exactly what makes such content go viral is, of course, hard to say. But one common element seems to be that as entertainment these videos can stand on their own, mostly avoiding the kind of blatantly promotional pitch that mars many commercials while still managing to deliver the sponsor’s message.
Uncle Drew: Basketball, like most sports, tends to favor younger players. So Pepsi (PEP) disguised 2012 NBA rookie of the year Kyrie Irving as an old man, “Uncle Drew,” and brought him to a street game in New Jersey. Supposedly they told the people that someone was making a documentary about Uncle Drew’s nephew. That may be true, or perhaps everyone there was hired for the shoot. But it’s still funny.
Now you see it, now you don’t: Environmental awareness is today a major selling point in many industries, including automobiles. Mercedes came up with a clever way of evoking the concept by making a car that seemed invisible. Better be quick with the horn, though, since other cars won’t know you’re there.
Hover car: Car manufacturers have apparently been taking night classes in how to get attention via video. As part of a promotion in which it asked people in China to come up with ideas for cars, Volkswagen got one for a hover car that would use electromagnetic power to float above roads. This video is not of a real unit — sorry, folks, the technology to run such a vehicle isn’t in place in cities — but it is captivating.
Lights, action, drama: In 2012, cable channel TNT launched itself in Belgium. How do you get people interested in watching a new channel that focuses on drama? Add some “real” drama to their lives.
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To watch the four commercials, please click here.
Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.