2011 Social Media Marketing Awards: Viral Video

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Winner: Cisco Systems

Program: ASR 9000 Series Test Drive (aka “Robot Arm”)
Why we chose it: This is a technology test drive only a true geek could love. While watching a live, streaming video, a viewer can operate a robot arm to yank the route switch processor card out of a network router. The action should cause at least a temporary hiccup in the video stream; but Cisco Systems is betting it won't, and it goes out on a limb to let customers see for themselves. The 100-second invitational video was posted on YouTube in October and promoted through banner ads, blogs, social networks and email blasts. Viewers were invited to contact a Cisco representative to set up the demo. The customer chooses when to remove the processor card and observes firsthand the impact on video performance. In the first four months, the promotion drove nearly 6,000 video impressions and 500 contacts from interested users. That resulted in 216 demos and 60 qualified leads. Cisco estimates that the live demo program has driven more than $80 million in revenue and led to 11 customer testimonials.

Runner-up: Microsoft Corp.

Program: Allure Bays Corp.
Agency: Wunderman Network, Seattle
Why we chose it: We probably spent more time on this award submission than any other because the video experience was so immersive, not to mention confusing. But that's part of the appeal of this edgy and sometimes outrageous collection of short videos that collectively promote Microsoft Office and SharePoint. The videos document the bizarre developments at Allure Bays Corp., a fictitious high-tech company. Wunderman employed an underused Flash video feature—hotspots—to connect a constellation of short videos on a YouTube channel to each other. The videos use wit, irony and self-deprecating humor to poke fun at the workplace. Subtle demonstrations of the features of Office and SharePoint are sprinkled throughout. We like the way this campaign appealed to the problem-solving instincts of its target audience as well as to their innate competitiveness. The fact that Microsoft didn't reveal its sponsorship of the program until after it was well under way was an additional mysterious twist. The Allure Bays site attracted more than 24,000 unique visitors and 150,000 views, along with an impressive time-spent-on-site average of 8:10. Search for “Allure Bays” and you'll get an idea of the awareness it generated.

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