By Max Rosen, CEO, Indigo Productions
How many divorces take only one hour to complete, feature music, laughter, dancing and acrobatics, and are cheered by millions of people all around the world?
Six weeks ago Indigo Productions uploaded a 2-minute video called “JK Divorce Entrance Dance” to the Internet. It was a spot-on parody of a hugely popular video called “JK Wedding Entrance Dance” – featuring a real couple dancing down the aisle in a church – which had gone viral just a few days earlier.
To date, the Divorce spoof has been seen by more than 10 million people worldwide, with well over 2 million clicks on YouTube alone. By any definition, this is a viral video smash hit.
The spoof also received an outpouring of media attention: CNN, NBC, MSNBC, and Access Hollywood all ran stories on it. Articles were published in the Chicago Tribune, The Huffington Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, and dozens of other serious journals. Twitter was abuzz, with celebrities like Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher tweeting its praises. Thousands of blogs featured it. Forbes even wrote an article on the business angle.
Most importantly, from a viral perspective, it was re-posted endlessly. It made the first page of CollegeHumor, Break, Mashable, Digg, CNN, AOL, Yahoo Video, and thousands of websites in every language in virtually every country around the world.
How did a video made in 2 days on a fairly modest budget achieve these spectacular results? Read on!
If you haven’t seen it, take a look at the original:
JK Wedding Entrance Dance
Next, here’s our spoof:
JK Divorce Entrance Dance
And as an added bonus, here’s a brand-new look behind the scenes!
JK Divorce Dance | Making of the Viral Video Hit
And now, an explanation of
THE 9 KEY REASONS WHY “JK DIVORCE” WENT GLOBAL:
1. It’s short
At just 2 minutes, it was specifically designed for Internet sharing.
2. It’s funny
Laughter is the gold standard in the viral world. Period.
3. People said “Wow!”
Audiences responded to the level of care in every detail. The quality of the dancing, the acrobatics and the costumes – plus the fact that we shot it in a magnificent real courtroom – made people realize they were seeing something special.
4.The timing was perfect
We created this elaborate spoof incredibly quickly, just as the original was peaking in the media, guaranteeing maximum exposure.
5. Our distribution strategy
We used a powerful online media mix including social media channels, link strategies, bookmarking sites, blogs, mailing lists and microblogs. While some of our technology and optimization strategies are confidential and proprietary, distribution must be seriously considered by anyone seeking to make a viral video.
Of course none of this would have been worth ten cents if people didn’t like the video. But lucky for us they did.
6. The media frenzy
The television coverage, articles, and blogs were massively helpful in influencing the speed with which it spread.
7. Universal appeal
As a humorous music-driven and dance-driven video with no English-language dialogue, it was poised for international success. It quickly broke records in Europe, and in two days it became the #1 viewed video in Asia.
8. “Oh my god – Is this real?”
We were amazed, frankly, at how many people thought the real couple were actually getting divorced – and dancing down the aisle in their wedding outfits! The YouTube Comments about this are hysterical, and this “controversy” helped spread the video even further.
9. The music
Yes, it’s copyrighted. And no, we didn’t have permission. Sony Music could have easily shut us down for using Chris Brown’s “Forever” in our soundtrack. But based on the success of the original wedding video that featured the same song, we went for it. Sure enough, one day later YouTube and iTunes inserted a pop-up ad selling downloads for $1.29. And having major music industry players profiting from our video certainly didn’t hurt us.
WHY WE MADE THE VIDEO
First, a bit of background:
Indigo Productions is a New York City video production company. One of the reasons for our success over the past 17 years is that we stay at the forefront of trends and technology. Our intense interest in viral videos began about a year ago when several clients, almost simultaneously, asked us to help them make videos “go viral” on YouTube. This sparked a company-wide motivation to crack the code on the viral video production phenomenon.
After a comprehensive study of the subject, we wrote a well-received article called How To Make A Video Go Viral.
As our interest and expertise grew, we decided to teach a seminar at New York University on Viral Video Production. We were excited about sharing our knowledge with creative college students, a key Internet demographic.
During the last week of the seminar, I was telling one of our longtime corporate clients about the course. He became intrigued. “How,” he asked, “can you make a video go viral?”
I explained that with an advanced understanding of Internet user behavior, search engine optimization tactics and web linking techniques, it’s not that difficult to create a viral success if you have two items at your disposal:
1. A great video, with inherent viral potential
2. A great distribution strategy
Now even more intrigued, he made us a friendly bet: If we were able to create a true viral video, using the techniques we were teaching our students at NYU, he’d go out of his way to introduce us to some key contacts who would have a LOT of new business for us.
(The truth is, he would have made the introductions anyway. But we loved the spirit of the challenge, and we were highly motivated to win the bet!)
And beyond that, we were in the mood to have some fun.
HOW WE MADE THE VIDEO
First, the entire Indigo team spent 2 evenings eating Thai food, drinking beer, and brainstorming concepts for viral videos. We came up with at least 20 terrific ideas, but some were too expensive to produce so we put them to the side.
Next, we “pitched” our 3 favorite ideas to our students at NYU to see which got the best response. The students loved them all, and promised to help out with whichever we chose. But the JK Divorce Dance was so fresh and topical (the JK Wedding Dance had gone viral only 2 days earlier) that they nearly fell off their chairs laughing when we told them the concept.
We knew then and there that we’d have a hit. But ONLY if we made it fast, made it great, and used every tool on the Internet to distribute it.
It took us just 48 hours between the time we decided to make the viral video and the time that we shot it. We spent those hours frantically casting, scouting locations, filling out paperwork and insurance certificates, preparing costumes, buying props, rehearsing the choreography, and doing 100 other things needed to make the parody successful.
A key victory was getting permission to shoot in the Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street in New York City – a feat not easily accomplished!
Our friends at Conan O’Brien were a great resource too.We hired Barry McNabb, their amazing choreographer, to create the dance routines and help us fill our cast with top Broadway dancers, acrobats and tumblers.
We shot the whole video in under an hour – in just 3 takes. We then edited it quickly the same night and uploaded it first thing the next morning.
THE WORLDWIDE EXPLOSION
We were 100% confident that we’d have a hit, but we were amazed at how quickly the video absolutely EXPLODED on the Internet, literally within hours.
By lunchtime, journalists were calling to find out how and why we made the video. By the next morning we were getting similar calls from Australia, Germany, England, Switzerland, and Japan.
From a marketing and branding perspective, the JK Divorce quickly resulted in over 30,000 unique website views and generated over 500 new inbound links.
And the number of views just keeps rising.
Many people have asked if Indigo made any money from the JK Divorce Dance. Well, we didn’t do it for the money. Seriously. We did it in the spirit of a challenge, to test our latest Internet research, to provide free entertainment, and to have a lot of fun. But the answer is yes, some money managed to find us.
All the exposure resulted in a slew of new contacts and prospects, many turning directly or indirectly into new business in our project pipeline. And of course our corporate client made good on the bet.
As a nice little bonus, a very smart British firm figured out to monetize the video in a way we would never have thought of. It’s not a lot of money, and the details are confidential… But we’ll leave you with one request: Kindly ask all your friends to watch the video a few more times on YouTube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbr2ao86ww0
JK DIVORCE DANCE CAST AND CREDITS:
Producer: Max Rosen
Director: Lucas Howe
Concept: Warren Zenna
Choreographer: Barry McNabb
Key Internet advisors: Jim Elliott and Konrad Kociszewski of Cherryone www.cherryoneweb.com
Bride: Katrina Yaukey
Groom: Joey Abramowicz
Judge: Patrick Boyd
Bailiffs: Andrew Totolos and Rocco Cafferelli
Lawyers: Tom Zemon and Ashley Robinson
Stenographers: Kimberly Dawn Neumann and Nalina Mann
Announcer: Maria Sandoval
Giant Head in the front row: Victor Rocine
Cameraman: Adam Buncher
Assistant Producer: Maria Sandoval
Assistant Director: Ozzie Pisarri
Assistant Choreographer: David Janett
Location Manager: Nils Widboom
Audio Playback: Mizuho Endo
Accounting: Kyoung Kim
Production Assistants: Dave Presley, Courtney Escoffey, Steven DiCasa, and Derek Heidemann
Production Baby: Ares Alexander Zakow Totolos
Special thanks to: Dr. Dani Stekel, an NYC chiropractor, for keeping our backs healthy!
ABOUT INDIGO PRODUCTIONS
Indigo Productions is a full service New York City multimedia and video production company that specializes in corporate video production. Indigo’s marketing videos, training videos, commercials, documentaries, music videos, web commercials, viral videos, websites and short films have been seen by millions worldwide over the past 17 years. Clients include L’Oreal, Everlast, IBM, Scholastic, and the Smithsonian Institution. A winner of top industry awards, Indigo is the one-stop creative resource for a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies, ad agencies, nonprofits and other organizations. To learn more about Indigo and video production services in NYC, please visit www.indigoprod.com