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JK Wedding Dance – The Evolution of Viral Marketing

By now, many of you might have seen the the JK Wedding Dance, the latest viral video to hit the web. The video shows couple Jill and Kevin’s creative spin on the traditional entrance of the bridal party at their wedding. Set to the song “Forever,” by Chris Brown (incidentally who was recently charged with assaulting his then-girlfriend) the video soared to instant popularity online. Even traditional media picked it up including CNN and Good Morning America. Here’s the video below:

Now the interesting thing is that I have been hearing rumbles about the authenticity of the video as well as the role that Sony (the label who owns the copyright of Brown’s song) played in promoting it from all corners of the web.

The Charges:

a) The video is totally fake, and was created by Sony to help bolster Chris Brown’s flailing career

b) The video is real, but has had a “corporate helping hand” in promoting it to help bolster Chris Brown’s career

c) The video is real, and everything we are seeing is the result of content going viral, organically.

The Evidence:

I am listing all the points, even the flimsy ones:

1) Many people have mentioned the consistency of the song quality throughout the whole video is incredibly good considering it was recorded on a handy-cam. Some speculate a higher quality version of the song was added after the video was shot.

2) The video was uploaded on July 19, on July 25th the entire wedding party was on Good Morning America. To get national media attention within 6 calendar days seems a little fast, even for the web. Other people have also mentioned that the video while entertaining, wasn’t hugely innovative compared to the thousands of other “funny wedding videos” available online. They were a little surprised to see all the media coverage.

3)   Go-Digital.net Blog reported an interesting discrepancy betweeen the number of views and and trends on various social networks including Twitter, Google Searches, etc. They hypothesize that the promotional activities (ie/ the aforementioned Good Morning America appearances, etc) created the initial push which THEN gained momentum online instead of the other way around.

4) According to Ad Age’s Viral Video Chart, all of the videos that made its top ten list took between three and six months to fully gain momentum.

5) Google reported on their official blog that instead of using copyright infringement as a reason to pull the video (as Sony and other labels routinely do) Sony capitalized on the video’s popularity by running text ads during the video and placing click to buy ads below:

At YouTube, we have sophisticated content management tools in place to help rights holders control their content on our site. The rights holders for “Forever” used these tools to claim and monetize the song, as well as to start running Click-to-Buy links over the video, giving viewers the opportunity to purchase the music track on Amazon and iTunes. As a result, the rights holders were able to capitalize on the massive wave of popularity generated by “JK Wedding Entrance Dance” — in the last week, searches for “Chris Brown Forever” on YouTube have skyrocketed, making it one of the most popular queries on the site:

This traffic is also very engaged — the click-through rate (CTR) on the “JK Wedding Entrance” video is 2x the average of other Click-to-Buy overlays on the site. And this newfound interest in downloading “Forever” goes beyond the viral video itself: “JK Wedding Entrance” also appears to have influenced the official “Forever” music video, which saw its Click-to-Buy CTR increase by 2.5x in the last week.

The Outcomes:

  • As of today the video has over twenty million views.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported that Brown’s song, Forever, climbed the charts landing at No. 4 on the iTunes Single Charts and No. 3 on Amazon’s best selling MP3 List, no easy feat considering the song was released nearly a year ago.

Interestingly enough, Softpedia reported that  Sony wasn’t totally sure about its approach, initially disabling the embedding feature and then changing their minds afterwards.

The Verdict:

I think after looking at all of the evidence I am going to go with option B. The video itself is real, but someone at Sony spotted an incredible opportunity to help one of it’s troubled artists and jumped on it. Both parties made some money and Brown’s song increased in popularity. Everyone wins.

What this means for Viral Marketing:

Spot the Good Wave. I find this case study particularly interesting because it challenges the traditional pressure faced by marketing folks to go and “create something viral.” Instead, a brand manager’s role now involves focusing on spotting vehicles like video that can help a brand gain online momentum.  This allows companies to avoid the pitfall of manufactured content. With the JK video the world was entranced by a human moment, something that an organization would have had a difficult time recreating. (Unless I’m totally wrong and the video is completely fake and Sony has fooled us all, lol) Much like surfing, marketers will need to develop a skill to differentiate the real gems from the thousands of other videos out there that can give their brand that extra boost.

Consumer Generated Content Can Be Your Friend. One can hope that this example has opened the eyes of Sony execs to the potential uses and profitability of user created content. Instead of forcing people to pull their content down, there is a possibility of both parties benefiting from making it available online.

Tactics will change and evolve. As more videos become viral, viewers will become increasingly suspicious of popular content which will mean that brands will need to invest in their online relationships in order to understand how consumers wish to be engaged.  If it’s interesting, I will watch content whether it is created by a company or not, I just want to know up front. Others might be completely indifferent. Knowing these nuances will spare companies a lot of headaches in the future.

13 Responses to “JK Wedding Dance – The Evolution of Viral Marketing”

  1. [...] See the article here: JK Wedding Dance – The Evolution of Viral Marketing « Rahaf Harfoush [...]

  2. Derek says:

    Hi Rahaf, nice blog! Just wondering how you worked out the 3 to 6 months duration in evidence no. 4, ‘According to Ad Age’s Viral Video Chart, all of the videos that made its top ten list took between three and six months to fully gain momentum.’

  3. andrew choi says:

    your post is very helpful.
    Thanks~~!!

  4. [...] de Martin Oetting (twitter oetting) un tweet sobre el último video viral de EEUU: un blog post de The Foush analizando las fuentes de la viralidad del video. Además del video gracioso, el análisis es muy [...]

  5. [...] The video went viral and has had over 20 million views so far.  That’s not the end of the story of course and speculation has been rife with rumors of corporate hand holding and the whole ceremony being staged to help sales of Chris Browns single, largely due to the reaction of his record label SONY who decided on this occasion not the press for copyright infringement but instead endorsed the video helping sales.  Theres a good piece that goes into some depth about the matter here. [...]

  6. I am doing a research on viral marketing for my master. The purpose of this study is to analyze three suiccessful viral videos such as JK Wedding Dance. If you want to participate, please click this link:

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  7. I doubted the video was real because who in their right mind would walk/dance down the aisle to a song by someone known for domestic violence — not incredibly romantic.

    The video came out at a very critical time for Chris Brown because Wrigley was deciding whether or not to terminate its contract with him. Remember, the song is basically a Doublemint gum jingle. The super-covert Wrigley/Chris Brown deal was handled by Translation, an ad agency co-owned by JayZ.

    I think they are another factor to consider, but I agree with you Rahaf, Sony say an opportunity and capitalized on it.

  8. Claire Mills says:

    It felt completely authentic to me based on the lack of dance training – they could have used one of my 10 week packages. But that is the point – it was real and from the heart. Seriously, I was touched by the obvious group effort in making it the most memorable wedding ever. With my marketing hat on I agree with you that it’s a prime promotional opportunity to make best use of a fantastic song when the setting is so positive; love, commitment and community – forever. How perfect. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Sabrina says:

    Hi Rahaf,

    I’m new to your blog (thus the late comment) and found this post very insightful.

    I’m interested to have your take on “ethics” if the truth comes out to be option A…

    When does it become unethical? When the newly weds got money from Sony? When we realize the newly weds are actors hired by Sony?

  10. Sheila says:

    The divorce dance was funnier. PS – good presentation at Showcase.

  11. Henry says:

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