Viral Ingredient: Misdirection

Nico Brooks

May 18, 2010

Viral Ingredient: Misdirection

This post is part of a series of posts describing the ingredients that cause media to go viral: Viral Marketing Ingredients

Before reading on, watch this video and see if you can count the passes:

And this Berlitz ad:

I put the Berlitz ad in so that you wouldn’t read this before watching the first video, but it is also a good example of misdirection. If you’re like me, you were totally had by the first one. I counted all of the passes and I completely missed the moonwalking bear. Misdirection occurs when a video or story takes us down one path, then surprises us with an unexpected ending.

We like to share things like this because they are clever, but also because we feel duped, and we want to see if others will fall for the same trick. What makes the Test Your Awareness video particularly effective is that the trick is also the message.

Here is another brilliant example:

To summarize, the protagonist is relentlessly annoying until at the end you realize that he is the wind, and that the wind can be harnessed for Good. A perfect message coming from Epuron, which is a German wind energy company, and the company has generated over 2 million views with the video. I also like that a German company chose a Frenchman to be the embodiment of annoying, but that’s another subject.

Please comment if you know of other good examples. For other posts in this series, click here.