I’m pretty sure that almost everyone has watched Psy’s Gangnam Style video somewhere on the web (now that we mentioned this in class, I know everyone has watched it unless people weren’t paying attention!). The video has gone viral, hitting more than 400 million views and setting the Guinness Book of Records for the most likes on YouTube. The song has also topped both the Billboard music chart and iTunes chart despite the fact that all the lyrics are in Korean and there are no subtitles written for non-Korean natives. How could this be possible?
Well, there are several factors that made this viral video catchy.
1. Flashy visuals: From beginning to the end, Psy appears in various settings dressed up in a handful of colorful outfits. There is no time for the viewer to be bored, and the audience is caught being drawn into the video to see what comes next. Although Psy is nowhere near “handsome” or “pretty-faced” like most other artists, he was able to gain popularity through his “unattractive” looks and cocky attitude – which may in fact seem more attractive (reverse psychology maybe?).
2. Addictive music/Entertaining dance moves: The melody of Psy’s song is mostly repetitive and the moves shown in his video match with the current trend of the electro-dance genre. Many American celebrities have also performed this dance on stage which led Psy to gain even more fame in the US market.
3. Compelling message: Although the video seems too funny to actually depict a message, the lyrics of the song entails an anti-materialism theme that pokes fun at men who try to fantasize their lives as part of the “elite.” In a period of global economic recession, the story has helped to make the video more appealing to the wider public.
Applying these concepts to the business world
So, how would a brand/company create an ad that would 1) go viral and 2) gain interest on both hemispheres of the world? When I used to work in the marketing communications team for a tech company, the biggest dilemma our team had was to create one global ad that would be suitable for all markets. From my own experience at work and through watching this video, a few thoughts came into mind.
1. Embed non-culturally-specific humor in the ad: Psy’s video contains an emotional denominator that could be accepted across various cultures – humor. These days, I watch many ads on TV and find that a lot of the humor is for mainly for locals, and those outside of the US would find it difficult to understand the “inside joke.” I guess Psy made his video entertaining by using body language, which could be understood universally.
2. Be easy and share your brand: Many artists these days license their songs so that they could earn more profit through official downloads, but this is not very helpful if you were trying to gain wider publicity in the long run. Studying Psy’s video, I came to learn that he withdrew the copyright of the clip so that viewers could easily own and share the video personally. You may not reap any benefits at the current moment, but releasing the copyright of your brand identity may help you to become more popular down the road.
3. Appeal to the public with an emotional message: Some of the most popular advertisements that have gained wide publicity include messages that give the viewer a reason to care. As for Psy, his theme may not be very evident to non-Korean speakers, but his message eventually was shared amongst the public, leading the video to be something more than an entertaining video to watch and share.
It’s too bad that this video was already shared in class today, but I’m sure the contents of this blog would be easier to understand now that it has already been discussed! The following is just an interesting video that I saw regarding viral videos. Hope you enjoy!