Lessons from Angry Birds


ADOTAS –  The team behind T-Mobile‘s Angry Birds Live commercial gained recognition when their recent efforts spread like wildfire on the internet, achieving 8 million views of the video. Even the behind-the-scenes footage made an impact, with 140,000 views. The success was no mistake — Angry Birds followed all the rules to make sure their ad took flight.

The brains behind this ad did more than just wing it. They relied on three smart principles to increase the odds that their project would go viral:

  1. It’s unexpected. Watching a video game on a small smartphone screen come to life in a real town square surprised viewers and captured their imagination.
  2. It’s entertaining. The Angry Birds video game is already entertaining on its own. That’s how it sold more than 12 million copies through Apple’s App Store. Involving the crowd capitalized farther on the fun. And you can’t go wrong with cute little animals.
  3. It leveraged a popular trend. Mobile gaming is incredibly popular, and Angry Birds is at the top of that trend. Viewers were already predisposed to watch an ad that incorporated something they enjoy.
  4. It incorporated music. The upbeat tempo of the trumpet music used to score this video also scored big with viewers, heightening the excitement of the on-screen action. Music helps viewers engage more fully with the content and it guides them through the story’s tone. The fun music matched up perfectly with the carnival atmosphere they created on the screen.

All four of those factors made it more likely that people would watch the entire video and then share it with friends. But just as important, T-Mobile also avoided the top three pitfalls:

  1. Don’t overbrand your video. Consumers are turned off by the notion of being sold. Smart scripting avoided hitting viewers over the head with T-Mobile messaging. Subtle logo placement at the beginning of the spot and on the end card made authorship clear without overselling. Videos with careful branding and stand-alone content are four times more effective than spots with overt commercial language.
  2. Don’t go long. Short, punchy spots are the way to go for effective videos. People lose patience quickly if they’re not entertained. T-Mobile’s video flirted with the boundary but succeeded because of its strong concept and consistent entertainment value. Short and sweet are the keys to success here.
  3. Don’t force it. It’s smart to support your efforts with a push when it’s released. Make it available on the appropriate sharing sites, make it simple for viewers to share it, and post it visibly on your brand’s social sites. Make your project visible on YouTube, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and Facebook. Stellar videos can get additional play on Vodpod, Devour or Popscreen. Also consider sharing your content with bloggers who post content relevant to your brand. The Angry Birds content is appropriate for blogs and other sites that address tech gadgets, smartphones, online gaming and trends. Consider the creative options when you’re evaluating your content.

It’s a mistake to artificially expand your video’s popularity by approaching unrelated sites or including misleading keywords in your hashtags. Once you’ve done the legwork to get your video shared through appropriate channels, don’t push it to go viral. Either it will or it won’t. Trying to force the matter stinks of desperation.

There are no guarantees of success in a competitive environment, but if you follow the strong example set by T-Mobile’s Angry Birds Live, you just might have viewers more engaged with your brand.

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