Viral video – are you trying to be heard over the noise?

Noise It started with a simple question.  Do you viral video?

Let’s continue our discussion on the phenomenon of viral video and its many purposes. 

We’ve culled through the stats that show the rapid rise of viral video viewing, we’ve talked about how some companies are using the medium to just get in front of as many people as possible and we’ve also looked at the educational aspects of the medium.

What other objectives can viral video answer for marketers?  One of the most challenging aspects of marketing is the sheer volume of noise out there.  You have to be able to shout pretty loud sometimes to even be heard, let alone hold someone’s attention.

One of the most cut-throat and competitive market places out there has to be book publishing/selling.  Unless you’re a marquee name, you’re pretty much on your own.  Publishing houses will provide a little support but speaking from personal experience — most of it is on you.

Imagine it. You’re an author.  Say you’ve written one book before.  You’re hardly a household name.  You’re ready to launch your second book.  You going to plan (and pay for) a book tour?  I know…how about creating a website?

That’s where Jay Nussbaum (teacher, lawyer and novelist) found himself, as he was about to release A Monk Jumped Over A Wall.  He was going to do the book signings, press releases, websites etc.  But he wanted to do something more.  And boy did he.

Nussbaum decided to create a video that he thought would create some buzz far beyond traditional book marketing. 

"I began work on my novel in 1987 and, with 20 years invested in this book, I decided early on that, if I wanted the book to succeed, I would have to think out of the box.  After all, my first novel, Blue Road to Atlantis, had received great reviews, but it didn’t get enough reviews to get noticed.  I didn’t want that to happen again. 

And so I did something that, to my knowledge, no novelist had ever done before:  I dramatized an entire scene from the novel and posted it on YouTube (as well as various other media sites such as,, etc.) as a short film.  Other writers have done very simple, 2-minute "trailers", but no one has ever done anything remotely like this.  The film, entitled, "Nymphomercial" is very funny, and is quickly becoming something of a sensation on college campuses nationwide."

Take a look and see what you think.  And despite the video’s name…it’s PG-13.  No actual body parts showing. 

The question of course is….did it work? 

Well, I’ll bet more of us know Jay Nussbaum’s name than most relatively new novelists.  And by watching the video we probably have a pretty good sense about if we’d like his book or not.  It’s not his goal to get all of us to love his work.  Just to let those of us who might love his books to know about them.  And to do that, you have to get noticed.

I also think it is safe to bet that Newsday probably wouldn’t have written about his book, had he not reached beyond the traditional marketing methods.

Was it a safe choice?  Hardly.  How many remarkable products/companies stay in the safe zone?

How could you use viral video to shout over the crowd and be heard in a remarkable way?

Other posts in this series:
Do you viral video?
Viral video – are you looking for a lot of eyes?
Viral video — are you trying to educate?
Viral video – are you trying to be heard over the noise?
Viral video — are you establishing yourself as an expert?

10 comments on “Viral video – are you trying to be heard over the noise?

  1. CK says:

    Good post. Laura Ries has written on this as it’s tough to count the amount of non-sex products that use sex to sell (and yet Viagra has been changing their ways and using men all singing together, instead of couples, to sell their product lately – ha!). Now, most of these commercials get eyeballs, it’s not always the same in revenues.

    Back to the eyeballs for a second, are they the ‘right’ eyeballs? I don’t have the answer to that question but I do enjoy creativity both in telling the story and selling the product.

    That creativity can be an entertaining way (blender guys) or it can be a creative use of how they communicate the information (PRWeb’s “river of news” in explaining RSS).

    Much luck to Jay’s book ;-).

  2. CK,

    I had an advertising professor in college who started every semester, telling his new students that when in doubt…include either sex or cute puppies into your creative and all was good!

    Either could sell just about anything! I’m pretty sure he was kidding, but…


  3. CK says:

    Actually, the top 3 “attention-getting” words? Free, Sex and Yes…and I’m not sure in that order ;-).

  4. Scott says:

    My God! I started watching that video and after 3 seconds had to shut it down.

  5. Scott,

    I am sure you’re not the only one who reacted that way. My guess is if someone doesn’t like the video, they wouldn’t like the book. Which means the video is well branded in terms of attracting AND repelling right and wrong customers.


  6. Nathan Snell says:

    Drew, I’ve really been enjoying your series of posts about videos and how viral plays a role in that. The team I am on is in the process of putting together a video as an experimentation of sorts (and also promoting our site), and your posts have especially been a great resource for helping me make sure we think about other aspects.

    One question I, though, that hasn’t really been mentioned (‘less I missed it), is the concept of videos being mashed up or remixed. Perhaps this is simply in a different area, but I think the video above has a great “shock factor” and entertainment value, but I didn’t see any mashups of it. What do you think about the number of mashups being a partial indicator to the success of viral video (that is, being looking at just views)?

  7. Nathan,

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the series. I haven’t talked about the mashups because I’ve been focusing on intent mostly.

    I do agree with you — mashups do help the spread of a video. I think when a video gets popular enough that it becomes imitated, it has reached a new level of popularity. It’s like a rocket boost!

    How’s the project coming?


  8. Nathan Snell says:

    A rocketboost indeed! I personally have been considering aiming to make a video mashup material for the purpose of being able to start another conversation. If someone cared enough to mashup your video, you should care enough to talk to them.

    We’ll see if I get to engage in such an experience with this video. The project had a particular window of opportunity. We don’t have any good video editors in house, so we hired a creative firm to do it. Unfortunately, the window of opportunity has passed and the product this firm created was less than exceptional (we didn’t even use their first phase work).

  9. Nathan,

    You bring up a very good point. If you don’t have the skills/equipment — you need to find a good video partner.

    Now, looking back — what questions or due diligence do you wish you had done with the creative firm you selected?


  10. Mark Boyd says:

    This is great! Something this blatant is done with a nudge and a wink and I can totally appreciate it. Really reminds me of something I saw on Monty Python’s Flying Circus years ago where they had a pouty woman on a bed slowly taking her clothes off and striking poses while lip-synching to a man’s voice lecturing about history.
    When something is as polarizing as this, you’ve gotta love it:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *