Viral Video Advice: “Advertising Should Be A Play-Date, Not A Lecture”

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“Viral video” is one of the hottest buzzwords in the online advertising industry, with brands around the globe brainstorming idea after idea for how they can “go viral.”  We spoke with Christiano Covino, President of Mischievious Studios, a full service advertising agency specializing in viral video production, to glean some advice for brands and individuals that dream of creating viral content.

Covino told me, “Mischievious Studios is an independent studio that works to blur the line between advertising and entertainment to create content that people share.  We’re transplants from the film industry who decided to use our abilities as storytellers to create entertaining advertising.”

Check out a couple of the most popular videos from their YouTube channel, MischiefTube, below and then read on to find out what Covino had to say about the true definition of “viral,” the process of creating viral content and more.

What constitutes a “viral” video?

There is a lot of debate surrounding brands trying to go viral.  Many advertising and online video specialists shun the idea of viral, saying that getting a ton of views is less important than reaching a smaller, niche audience that actually cares about your product.  Covino asserts that perhaps these naysayers simply misunderstand the definition of “viral.”

“People often misunderstand ‘viral’ to mean ‘one million views or more.’  When, in fact, ‘viral’ is a measurement of how much a piece of content is shared.  If one person sees your content, and then sends it to ten people, then you can consider this content ‘viral’, as each person who sees it will spread it to 10 more people, like a contagious virus.  This was once called ‘grassroots.’

“So when people say it shouldn’t be a goal to ‘go viral,’ I ask ‘Why not?’  If you could make your content so engaging that anyone who was it would feel utterly compelled to share it with everyone they know, wouldn’t you do it?  Wouldn’t that save you a lot of money in banner ads and television commercials?  Wouldn’t that boom your business?”

How does one go about creating “viral content?”

I asked Covino to tell me a little bit about the process of how things go down when a brand comes to Mischievious Studios and says, “Hey! We want to go viral!”  He told me, the first step is to ask two questions:

  1. Who do you want to reach?
  2. What action do you want them to take?

“Using these two questions, we can determine what form of communication would be most effective and how we can help the brand achieve their business objectives.  After we’ve determined strategy we move to creative.  Our amazing creative team here at Mischievious Studios is literally an idea factory.  They generate hundreds of ideas that are revised, remixed, sliced apart, and combined to end up with an idea that is a perfect mix of novelty and stickiness that people will want to share.  Then, our award-winning production team brings the idea to life in-house using cutting edge in motion picture technology.  The result is a finished product designed to both entertain and inspire the viewer to take action, whether it is sharing the video, clicking a link, or purchasing a product.”

Covino says, “Audiences are getting smarter and have learned how to tune out advertising.  So we create entertaining content that cuts through the noise and engages them.  Our motto is: ‘Advertising should be a play-date, not a lecture.’”

Finally, I couldn’t help but ask why the team had decided to spell “mischievous” wrong in their name (one of my personal pet peeves is when people mispronounce this word as “mischievious”).  Covino says, “Because Mischievious (pronounced miss-CHEE-vee-yuss) is more fun to say!  And because rules are made to be broken.”

What are your thoughts on Covino’s take on viral video and on Mischievious Studios’ work?  We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Image credit: SFerdon via

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.

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