How Samsung’s ‘extreme sheep herding ’ became one of the biggest virals of the year

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Back in 2009, Samsung lit up the Welsh countryside with a stampede of ‘extreme sheep’. This case looks at how the electronics giant caused a viral sensation, getting 10m YouTube views within a year. The 200 second ad sees sheep with LED light harnessed manoeuvred into position to create a giant sheep, before creating the Mona Lisa with the various coloured LEDs on their back.

Set near a 13th century Welsh castle called Caregg Cennen, another stunt sees one sheep run back and forth across a hillside at night, acting out a huge match of the classic 1980's video game, Pong.

The video was released prior to the full line-up launch of Samsung Electronics' 2009 LED TVs in the United Kingdom with the goal of injecting some humour into the campaign, using smart dogs, smart shepherds, and linking them to the company’s smart LED technology.

The creators of the video, for TV makers Samsung, revealed that they recruited Welsh national sheep herding champion Gerry Lewis, and a team of Welsh sheep herders to guide the flocks into position. However they admitted computer trickery had been used.

Matt Smith, the co-founder of ad agency The Viral Factory said: "The people on camera are real farmers and they were really controlling the sheepdogs. Rather than trying to fake it all we did it for real. The sheep herding bit is straight up – no trickery but there is a fair amount of computer trickery and post production work.

"We thought the Mona Lisa was the big wink to people – once they saw that we thought they would realise it was not all real. But we have been quite surprised that there is still a debate about whether it is all real and people have been coming up with various theories."

Smith said the main problem on the shoot was not herding the sheep, but getting enough of them. He went on: "We filmed it at the end of last month and it is lambing season so we could not disturb the sheep that were lambing because it would have been too stressful. We used different sheep over the two day shoot because we couldn't have them running around all day. We didn't give them any treats because they got to wear an LED coat – I can't think of anything better. The video is silly and joyful. This one has caused a real stir."

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