An Analysis of Virality in Action.
With just those opening words I was hooked.
A woman chased after a young boy who had just stolen some items from her pharmacy. She grabbed him and what he had taken from her store.
“Why did you steal these?”
From across the street comes a man—a soup vendor—who asks what’s going on. He sees the medicine and asks the boy, “Is your mother sick?”
The boy sheepishly nods affirmatively.
The man pays for the medicine on the boy’s behalf and then asks his daughter to bring over some soup, which he gives to the young boy.
The boy runs off, closing this chapter of the story.
20 Million and Counting.
A few years back, TrueMove, a Thai wireless company won the internet’s heart with this video that’s less an advertisement more a short, emotionally gripping film.
In just a few days the film got 6 million views. In a week it had more than 9 million. As of this writing, it’s gotten 20 million views and is still regularly being shared. This “ad” continues to pay dividends to the company in brand awareness at an international level, even years after it was made.
To many CMOs and marketing executives, especially in seemingly “dry” industries like telecommunications, this may seem like witchcraft. After all, many of those companies spend millions and millions of dollars on ad campaigns, stadium naming rights, billboards, and forests of print ads that may reach this number of people once but are most frequently forgotten or ignored.
TrueMove got its ad shared and viewed organically by millions of people—a strong return on investment in terms of awareness and engagement.
Moreover, the ad leaves the viewer with an incredibly positive feeling toward TrueMove—something that every telco and wireless company in the world needs badly, as well as a lot of other industries.
It’s Not Witchcraft.
Put down your sacrificial goat because you won’t need it to achieve the same kinds of results that TrueMove did. Instead you’ll need just one very important thing: emotion-first storytelling.
In his book Contagious, Jonah Berger did an analysis of the types of content that get most widely shared.
The emotions that prompt the most sharing are inspiration, awe, positivity, and anger.
The two worst are sadness and contentment. That’s an incredibly huge insight! How often do companies come out with commercials that, time and time again, make you feel comfortable and content? They’re everywhere! And they’re precisely the ones that research shows are the least likely to move anyone to action.
And the TrueMove ad, while prompting tears in some, isn’t based on sadness—it’s based on positivity and inspiration.
And that’s part of what really makes it brilliant.
But It’s Still Got Conflict.
We talk a lot about the importance of conflict in creating a compelling story—and the TrueMove ad is positively filled to the brim with conflict: the boy stealing and being caught, the father being stricken with illness, the family not having enough money for the medical bills and being forced to sell the restaurant.
Many businesses are afraid of conflict and because of this they create campaigns which are relentlessly positive, upbeat, and saccharin. They make you feel content.
Conflict gives us something for people to overcome, something to hope for, to cheer for as characters continue their journeys. Conflict makes us lean in and pay attention—to care.
The stakes of the conflict in this story are high–they are literally about life and death—which means we care deeply about the outcome.
The emotional apogee of the film reveals that the boy from all those years ago is now a doctor who has not only saved the father’s life, but also paid all his medical bills. It’s inspirational. It invokes awe. It makes us cheer.
This ad may feel like magic, but it’s just really phenomenal storytelling—storytelling that has paid TrueMove tremendous dividends in brand awareness for years. And counting.
You can watch the full video here: