Nike’s 3 Secrets To Making Viral Videos – How To Make Viral Videos

(Today’s post is like a mini-training on marketing with viral videos for you. Please comment at the end what your #1 take-away was that you’ll put to use in your next video. Rock and Roll)

Epic videos gone viral? Yup! Nike just cracked the code – but here’s the haunting question:

Why did Nike choose an animated video?

With an absolutely insane amount of resources at their disposal, needing to market their new shoe to a perfect audience of rabid soccer fans, at a time when the entire world is watching – Nike has a ‘Golden Marketing Opportunity’ with the World Cup.

…so why did they make an animated video?

Well, you’re about to find out just how genius it was to choose animation (you’ll​ see their video at the end of this post).

There are 3 genius things Nike did in their Viral Video (54 Million views and counting, in just over a week) that any Marketer should stop dead in their tracks and pay close attention to.

1. The Hollywood Method In Viral Videos

In terms of Marketing – Hollywood’s always a great study. And Nike made momma proud by studying them quite well.

Typically, when a company is marketing their product, they’ll start by talking about their product, right? Right – which is why we never want to be typical.

Marketing Rule #1 – don’t talk about your product (until the time is right – more on that in upcoming blog posts). Just watch how brilliantly Nike starts out their video.

Nike used the “Hollywood Method” with stunning precision and you’re about to see exactly why.

(By the way, we’re soon releasing detailed trainings about ‘The Hollywood Method’ and other Marketing Hacks. So you know what would be cool? If you’d leave a comment below letting us know what you’d most like to learn about in the coming weeks – you’re awesome).

Here are 4 genius ways Nike used the Hollywood Method:

1. Start Your Marketing Video Like A Hollywood Movie

Marketing Secrets of Nike -The Hollywood Method

Nike didn’t start their video by talking about their shoe – they started the same way a Hollywood Movie starts. With the title of the production company.

The reason this is so smart, is because as soon as the audience sees this (this is the first thing they see) they think they’re going to watch a mini-movie and be entertained.

…and not be sold anything.

This puts your audience in a fun and relaxed frame of mind – open and eager to see more. Congratulations, you now have their attention.

Now it’s time to deliver your awesomeness.

2. Tell A Compelling Story

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 2.36.49 PM

They’re rarely seen but worth their weight in Gold:

Compelling stories.

Nike’s marketing video tells the story of a cold hearted executive who creates soccer player clones. These clones have ‘flawless decision making’, ‘guaranteed results’ and is ‘what the people want’ to change football forever.

The clones are indeed flawless and play with perfection – but as automatons they’re cold and soulless.

The mission is for the superstar human athletes to ‘Make A Stand’ and to ‘Save Football’ because the clones are killing football. Then, the humans challenge the clones to a winner takes all match.

So why is Nike going out of their way to tell this story when they can just sell their shoe?

Because compelling stories work like magic…

When Every Other Business Is Hurting, Hollywood Sells BILLIONS With Compelling Stories

Did you know that during the worst point in the US Recession in 2008, a Movie Sales Record was broken. For the first time ever, a movie surpassed the Billion Dollar Sales Mark – in just 17 days.

The movie was Avatar – and the sales record was broken during a recession, in under 3 weeks!

Why? Because as humans, we’re hungry for stories. Even when we don’t have money, we’ll pay $10 to watch a compelling story.

Nike used the ‘Good vs. Evil’ Template, and of course there are loads of Story Templates you could choose from (From Struggle to Celebrity, The Great Discovery, The Hero’s Journey, From Loss To Redemption, etc).

3. Give A Message of Value

In the beginning of the video, the cold hearted clone creator’s company (Perfect Inc.) has the slogan, “Risk Nothing”.

Marketing Secrets of Nike -The Hollywood Method

Marketing Secrets of Nike -The Hollywood Method

Using their ‘Good vs. Evil’ Story Template, the good guys also have a slogan, ‘Risk Everything’.

During the Hero’s inspiring speech to rally the humans, he gave powerful messages that inspire the human in all of us (Cue Dramatic Background Music):

Marketing Secrets of Nike -The Hollywood Method

“We must rise up…remember what makes you great, you are not afraid to take risks. You play like it’s a game, they play like it’s a job. You risk everything to win, everything. There’s no greater danger than playing it safe.”

It’s moving and powerful. Nike inspired you to be stronger, more courageous and play full out. That’s way beyond a sales message – it’s an inspiring message for your life. The reason Nike is SO smart for doing this is because now you feel about Nike in a much more profound way than just shoes, hats and clothes.

Which is why number 4 is the cherry on top of this deliciously brilliant marketing video:

4. Associate Product With Message

Had Nike just brought on a motivational speaker to tell you to be more courageous in your life – not sure how much that would increase sales.

But Nike, as the Marketing Geniuses that they are, did something strategic:

Associate their New Shoes with the Inspiring Message.

Here’s how.

The first thing the superstar human athletes do, right after they decide to challenge the soulless clones is…

(drum roll)

Put on a pair of Nike Shoes.

Nike Animation Commercial

With the not so subtle, ‘I want this new Nike shoe now’ take:

Nike Animation Commercial

Then the shot of the ‘Game Winning Shoe’ defeating the bad guys with plenty of Nike emphasis:

Nike Animation Commercial

The inspiring message was given, the shoes went on, magic happens and the good guys win.

Ok, so you just learned 4 Marketing Strategies within the Hollywood Method to make your video be and go viral…but still, why did Nike go out of their way to make an animated video?

2. Animation Captivates, Period.

There’s been a lot of research done on the psychological effects of animation. But one thing is for certain:

Animation captivates our attention and imagination. Think about it:

When watching this Marketing Video, look at how many impossibilities just became possible:

1. A Kid is about to be hit by an oncoming train but spins around in lighting speed to kick the ball off a house to his roof-top-flying friend

Nike Animation Commercial

Nike Animation Commercial

2. Clones Arrive

Nike Animation Commercial

3. Ronaldo has an underground palace with statues and Indiana Jones Staircases

Nike Animation Commercial

4. Put on Nikes & Fly like a bird

Nike Animation Commercial

5. Put on Nikes to move your legs so fast the ground smokes

Nike Animation Commercial

6. Take on 100 opponents all at once and say, “That’s too easy”

Nike Animation Commercial

If this were done without animation, the mind is a bit suspicious with all these ‘effects’. By using animation, the mind simultaneously sees this as entrainment and reality.

After watching this epic video with the strategically positioned shoes – you now have a very real association of these new Nikes:

“I can do anything with these shoes and I want them, badly“.

Think about it, after watching this video – the next time you’ll see one of these new Nikes, what will you think about?

Ronaldo’s underground palace, flying in mid-air, making the ground smoke with your lightning fast legs, crushing the bad guys and living a courageous life in Brazil…right?

That’s the power of ‘Animation Marketing’. The mind believes every bit of the magic and wants more.

Which brings us to the 3rd Marketing Secret Nike used in this epic and viral animated video:

3. The Smart Ending: Join The Cause

Nike Animation Commercial

At the end of the video, Nike doesn’t say ‘buy the shoes’. They show you how to join the cause.

The gear’s link says, “The Latest Gear To Risk Everything”.

The psychology behind this is so smart: Now you become the message of ‘Risk Everything’.

The gear, app and shoes are ways to embody the message of being courageous. Do you see why this is SO powerful?

And by the way, when you go to the link at the end of the video, guess what stares at you like a blinding pink elephant?

That’s right, those shoes:

Nike Animation Commercial

Mmm hmm…I’ll be able to fly over clones with those bad boys.

That my friends is how to make an epic video go viral.

Which is why PowToon has become so viral recently too (shameless plug). Instead of hiring a 7 figure animation team like Nike did, with PowToon you have an entire video animation team right at your fingertips.

My favorite PowToon Package? The Pro, because it’s affordable to anyone ($19 a month), gives you more music and characters to choose from and no more watermark. Go ahead, make Nike jealous.

Now it’s your turn:

What was the 1 God-Awesome Marketing Strategy you just learned that you’ll put to use ASAP?

Also, if you have any questions about these strategies – ask away below, I try to personally respond to as many as I can.

You’re awesome,






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Ari Sherbill

VP Business Development @Powtoon. Ari's known as the "High Energy Guy" who currently advises Fortune 500 companies, Hollywood Studios and over 5,000 executives and business owners every month how to increase their leads, engagement and sales with Powtoon. He's spoken on stage with MGM, the Sands Hotel, 3M and Oracle. NASA referred to his strategies as "fresh and intriguing". Learn how to grow your sales and impact by following me on twitter: @AriSherbill


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