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HP’s Viral Video Maneuver

What better way to garner the attention of the YouTube generation than with your own brand of viral videos.

What better way to garner the attention of the YouTube generation than with your own brand of viral videos.

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Yesterday I watched the premiere of HP’s latest installment in its “The Computer is Personal Again” campaign on Vibe.com, an urban music and lifestyle publication’s Web site. The commercial featured Pharrell Williams, one half the musical production team The Neptunes, who have produced hits for such megastars as Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, No Doubt, and Jay-Z. As of this writing, the commercial had not yet appeared on HP’s site and won’t air on TV until July 25, according to GEARlog.

The Williams spot is just one of many in a series that features a celebrity shot from shoulder to waist so that you only see their moving hands demonstrating how they use their computer, as they speak about it. When Williams says, “I have my own pro skate team. I have photos of all these guys in here,” he angles his left arm about 45 degrees downward as a sloping rail pops out of it and a skateboarder speeds down the rail, aided by Willams’ index fingertip of his right hand. There’s a visual edginess at play here, something that’s not typically associated with HP.

On the HP site you can now view US Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Shaun White, Dallas Maverick’s owner and HDNet founder Mark Cuban, reality TV creator Mark Burnett, and Def Jam CEO and multiplatinum rapper Jay-Z in similar ads discussing their personal and professional digital lifestyles. All of the commercials hit the Web prior to appearing on television and when the Jay-Z clip did make it to the little screen, it appeared during the NBA playoffs. It looks like HP figured out a sagacious strategy for making a stodgy old company appear cool.

During the World Cup soccer tournament, HP partnered with FingerSkilz.tv, a blog reportedly set up by a bored office worker that was linked to the tournament’s official site. On the site a video focuses in on a man’s hand on top of a desk, using two fingers to perform soccer tricks with a paper ball. In one clip, a laptop, with an HP logo on the lower right edge of the monitor, sits in the distance. A viral blogging blitz ensued once the site was discovered, but it wasn’t until after the World Cup that the relationship with HP was revealed.

The viral strategy even extends itself to HP’s “The Computer is Personal Again” site, where visitors can upload photos of themselves and create their own ad spots that can be shared on their blog, or emailed to a friend. This might be some of the most inventive marketing I’ve seen in quite some time, but I still can’t determine whether it’ll sell computers or not.

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Additional Resources:

A Craving For Cool Big companies are outsourcing “cool” to nimbler, closer-to-the-ground outsiders. They might as well farm out their souls.

Why can’t big companies make themselves cool? Take the Fast Company Poll, to weigh in.

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About the author

Lynne d Johnson is a Content + Community Consultant developing content and community strategies that help brands better tell their stories and build better relationships with people toward driving brand awareness, loyalty, and purchase intent. She has been writing about tech and media since the Web 1.0 days, most recently about how the future of consumer interactions will be driven by augmented reality and wearable tech.

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