The Making Of A Viral Video Hit: Betty White Raps [Case Study]

Have you ever wondered what goes into creating a successful branded viral video?  Brands go viral all the time, from Old Spice to Skittles, but what goes on behind the scenes to catapult these brands to viral fame?  I spoke to Steve Terrell, Senior Vide President of Sales, Marketing and Public Relations at The Lifeline Program, to glean a little insight into the making of their latest viral campaign—‘Betty White Raps ‘I’m Still Hot’ with Luciana’.

The Lifeline Program is a life settlement company based in Atlanta, Georgia that, according to a press release, “offers life settlement portfolio aggregation services and alternative investment opportunities to financial institutions, fund managers and investment entities.”  They also assist seniors with retirement planning options.  And what better celebrity to tout Lifeline than Betty White—everyone’s favorite senior actress!  They also brought British pop singer Luciana on board for the project.

In addition to promoting The Lifeline Program the video also benefits the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association.  Stephen Terrell said, “We originally started with the idea of a video to reach seniors through social media, but when we heard the song, the project snowballed and we decided to do the remix and have the proceeds benefit one of Betty White’s favorite charities, The Los Angeles Zoo.”

Check out the video below, which has been viewed nearly 400,000 times since it hit YouTube earlier this month, and made even more impressions through mainstream media, and then read on to find out what Steve Terrell had to say about the process of creating this viral hit.

I asked Steve a few questions, from what goes into creating a video like this to how it was promoted and more.  Check out my questions and Steve’s answers and let us know what you think of the viral video in the comments below.

Megan at Social Times: Can you explain a little bit about what goes into making a project like this?

Steve Terrell: Our project was a labor of love that took more than nine months.  We started with the idea of creating a video that was edgy, funny and something that you wouldn’t see on television.  We have worked with Betty White for years and decided to showcase her in a medium that was unexpected.  The creative was a major part of the puzzle as we had to combine a techno/rap song with Betty and our message about new ways to fund retirement.  I served as the executive producer for the project with a tremendous assist from White Spark Creative in Los Angeles.  Luciana and Sony helped make it possible, but the project really found its footing when we brought in the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association as our charity partner.

Megan: Speaking of the Los Angeles Zoo, how did that partnership come about?

Steve: Our original idea was to create a video, and the song was the second component.  Once we decided to make the song available on iTunes, we chose to have the proceeds benefit a charity.  The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association is one of Betty’s favorites, so it was an easy choice.  Betty was thrilled.

Megan: What goes into promoting a video like this?

Steve:  Promotion is absolutely key.  With rare exception, viral videos require a great deal of marketing and public relations to gain traction.  We ran an organized campaign that began with a Facebook contest to attend the video shoot and included media access to the shoot, staggered releases of teaser videos and finally a multi-faceted video launch.  We scheduled a premiere party in Los Angeles and the video officially debuted on ‘Good Morning America.’  The pre-launch campaign alone included media coverage on Access Hollywood, Today, Fox News, People.com and many local news stations plus dozens of online outlets.  Hundreds of news outlets broadcast the video launch.  We pushed very hard to proliferate the media before, during and after the launch.

Megan: What were your goals with this project and have you been pleased with the results?

Our goal is to educate seniors and boomers about life insurance settlements and introduce them about new ways to pay for retirement.  Our customers are typically in their 70s, so that is our primary audience; however, we know what many baby boomers are entering our target age group and they also advise their parents on financial matters.  We are actively reaching out to the baby boomer market because we believe they are the present and future of our industry.

We are extremely pleased.  We met many of our goals before the video was even released to the general public.  The video is still climbing the YouTube charts, but it generated a tremendous interest from its inception.  Tens of millions of people were exposed to our brand and to life settlements due to our public relations push.  We are creating positive impressions about our industry each time someone sees the video.

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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