Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ray-Ban Viral Makes Big Impression

A Ray-Ban viral campaign from Omnicom's Cutwater has quickly risen on YouTube to become one of the most-watched videos on the site.

YouTube metering shows more than 1.7 million viewings in just over a week. Other community sites such as Break.com also report views fast approaching 1 million.

The shorts were created as part of Cutwater's "Never Hide" campaign for the Rochester. N.Y.-based client.

"In positioning and revamping of the brand, we knew we had to make Ray-Ban part of the conversation again," said Fabio Costa, creative director in charge of interactive at Cutwater. "We never hide the brand message from Ray-Ban. This validates our thoughts on how to build the campaign."

The agency found five independent filmmakers who exchanged ideas with the San Francisco shop, then made the films in their individual styles as part of a series, Costa said.

One of the two out now, "Catch," shows the apparent trick of Ray-Bans being flipped and thrown onto faces as moving targets. "Catch" is by a Los Angeles filmmaker who goes by the name Benzo, a man who appears in the first Jackass movie getting his hair shorn.

"There's a moment in the 'Catch' video where the guy tosses sunglasses off a bridge and they land perfectly on his friend's face," said Josh Warner, president of Feed Company, Los Angeles, which successfully "seeded" the community sites for Cutwater so that the film would go viral. "There's a moment you're saying, 'Am I getting tricked or not?' So you watch the video to the end, maybe even one more time, and then pass it onto your friend for a second opinion. That's true viral. It was fun to watch, like watching a tsunami of social conversation."

"The Dominator" is by Brian Lee Hughes; he had worked with Cutwater ecd Chuck McBride on a number of projects before getting the film assignments. Both movies cost "significantly less" than typical 30-second spots, said Travis Britton, creative director at Cutwater, though he would not specify the budget.

Hughes' film shows a bikini-clad bodybuilder solving a Rubik's Cube while dancing. The video has also been posted as a response to several YouTube videos by filmmaker Michel Gondry (Adaptation), in which he pretends to solve the puzzle with his nose and feet. Britton said Hughes might have had a response to Gondry in mind, but that was not the agency's intention. He added that both films were made with trick photography, not computer graphics.

Britton said the business of seeding the videos is more of an art than a science at this point. Warner agrees: "Take just the name of the video we attached, 'Guy Catches Glasses With Face.' That's like a major front-page headline. We spent the entire afternoon discussing that.

"Agencies come to us with video content, and we package, prepare, plan an overall strategy and the messaging we bring into sites, use referral networks within the sites," continued Warner, whose company also seeded Deutsch/LA's "Robot" Super Bowl spot for General Motors, gaining millions of additional views for it over the Internet. "We use databases of referrers and relationships with communal sites and micro-target users. It is a combination of technology, relationship and marketing expertise."

McBride said that the Ray-Ban campaign is "becoming what we wanted it to be in that we're seeing our branded content come to fruition. We're not trying to create ads on the Web, but content that's sensitive to how people are using the Web."

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