Mention your brand in your viral video

Does a good ad have to have anything to do with the product? Marketing campaigns are becoming more complex, with less focus on the product and more focus on narrative and celebrity endorsement. We saw a new angle in class with a viral video of Roger Federer behind the scenes of a Gilette ad. In the ad, which was published on Gilette’s YouTube page, he hit cans off of a man’s head with tennis balls standing about 50 feet away from him. At first, I didn’t remember what company produced that ad, but the story stuck with me. Seeing one of the greatest tennis ball players in the game knock a can off a terrified guy’s head is pretty memorable.

While the video was entertaining, I don’t think it’s a useful part of their ad campaign. Advertising is about building a brand image, and I don’t see what celebrity endorsements do for you if you don’t incorporate your brand into your advertisement. It’s a great story, but without mentioning Gillette, that’s all it is. You’re giving the audience a story, not an ad.

Recently, I saw another video that did a much better job of this tactic. PepsiMax started a viral ad campaign with Jeff Gordon where they disguised hi first as a potential customer at a car dealer. In the video, Gordon pretends to be an older, nervous mini-van driver who’s initially afraid of the power of the Camaro the salesman wants him to test drive. When he agrees to drive the car, he takes the salesman on a high speed joyride that leaves the salesman terrified. His reactions throughout the video are hilarious, and the video has over 41 million hits to this day.

What this ad does differently is that it mentions PepsiMax’s brand multiple times throughout the video. They even set up a small camera in a can of Pepsi that Gordon put in the cup holder of the Camaro, which caught all the salesman’s reactions. At the end of the video, Gordon calms the driver by telling him it’s a prank sponsored by Pepsi Max.

This awareness is key in a viral advertising campaign. In the Gilette video, viewers remember it as the behind the scenes ad where Roger Federer hits a tennis ball off of a guy’s head. Gillette isn’t mentioned in the video at all. The only thing that lets you know it’s made by Gillette is the title and the fact that Gillette uploaded it. PepsiMax found a way to make their brand a part of the video with the Pepsi can camera, and they reminded viewers who produced it several times throughout the video. If they used a strategy similar to Gillette’s, the ad would be known as the viral video where Jeff Gordon pranked a car salesman instead of the ad where Jeff Gordon pranked a car salesman with PepsiMax.

Gillette. (2010, August 16). Amazing Roger Federer trickshot on Gillette ad shoot. YouTube. Retrieved March 14, 2014, from


Pepsi. (2013, March 12). Pepsi MAX & Jeff Gordon Present: “Test Drive”. YouTube. Retrieved March 14, 2014, from

2 thoughts on “Mention your brand in your viral video

  1. GREAT article! I think you hit the nail on the head of story vs brand infused story. I watched both it’s very obvious that Pepsi had something to do with the commercial whereas the Roger Federer ad is completely forgettable except for the fact that he did something pretty cool.


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