Evian’s Roller Babies: The viral video that rocked so viciously

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Viral video ad campaign superstars like Evian’s Roller Babies show they’ve got the power to spread marketing messages globally with a huge return on investment. This case study shows how Evian’s YouTube campaign became the most viewed online video advertisement. One of the first YouTube-exclusive ad campaigns, Evian’s record breaking viral video, Roller Babies, set the way for a new strategy of seeding content, testing creative, and building on a global brand. Launched as a web-centric ad campaign, Roller Babies quickly became a viral tour-de-force. It was so successful that in 2009 the Guinness Book of World Records officially declared Roller Babies as the most viewed online ad.

More on this case study…
Brand: Evian | Media: YouTube | Country: Global | Sector: FMCG Drinks | Objective: awareness | Agency: BETC Euro RSCG & Unruly | Format: YouTube online ad

One of the first YouTube-exclusive ad campaigns, Evian’s record breaking viral video, Roller Babies, set the way for a new strategy of seeding content, testing creative, and building on a global brand. Launched as a web-centric ad campaign, Roller Babies quickly became a viral tour-de-force. It was so successful that in 2009 the Guinness Book of World Records officially declared Roller Babies as the most viewed online ad.

With over 100 million total views, Roller Babies demonstrates the ability of online video to reach far beyond that of traditional media alone. The ad launched online first and gained its momentum without the aid of simultaneous TV ads. To compare, many of the top ranking viral adverts such as Volkswagen’s The Force were released on television first, often corresponding to an event like the Super Bowl, with costs significantly higher than posting an advert online. By focusing on digital channels this campaign made a huge impact at a cost far less than that of its traditional counterparts.

Hitting high marks for quality and share-ability, the online ad featured roller boogie babies dancing to Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight.

Objective

In its first ever global campaign, Evian wanted to build on the concept of youth. Focusing on emotional benefits, Evian built its ‘Live young’ campaign with an aim to strengthen existing brand relationships, drive awareness of Evian across the world in a fun and innovative way, and use digital as the central medium. Activity needed to be focused primarily on digital channels as Evian’s ad heritage was not familiar to most people outside of France, and therefore could not be built upon.

Strategy

The web focused campaign launched simultaneously in France, UK, Germany, Belgium, Canada, US, Russia and Japan by strategically seeding Roller Babies into the social space. The efforts began with two teaser videos, Baby Moonwalk and Baby Break Dance, being tactically released on heavy traffic sites and blogs two weeks before the official launch of the Roller Babies video.

A remix contest launched on social networks in May 2009 and an ask for amateur baby videos to be shared on YouTube in early June 2009 lead to the global reveal on 3 July. A dedicated Facebook page and 'making of' film were also created to support the online drive.

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Activity on Twitter complemented the launch as well. Twitterati were put into action to help spread the word and tweets about the video were picked up and retweeted within seconds. This contributed to the first million views happening in record time.

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A more difficult to track, yet hugely important factor to the success of the campaign was the distribution of the video online by unofficial means. Through a combination of web-crawling and video fingerprinting techniques, it is estimated that 27.3 million views, or 44.4%, of all views were seen on sites outside the brand's official YouTube channel through fan uploads on various video sharing sites. This demonstrates how Roller Babies view count/visible measures show the video at 55 million views while Evian claims 102 million total views is the true reach.

Results

Besides the major accolade of earning the Guinness Book of World Records award for the most viewed online video advertisement, Roller Babies has won top honours from Time magazine as the #1 TV ad of the 2009 and a recognition on TBS’ Funniest Commercials of the Year.

The Key Stats:

• #1 on YouTube
• #1 on Viral Video Chart
• Total reach of 102 million views (53,357,588 visible measure views on YouTube to date)
• Over 54,000 comments and tweets
• 500,000 Facebook fans across a number of Roller Baby fan pages
• 14,000 YouTube friends and subscribers
• 2/3s would definitely remember the ad was for Evian and they found it imaginative and amusing
• Advertising recall increased by 27% overall and 55% at a 2 exposures*
• Since seeing the campaign 25% will definitely / probably drink Evian more often*

Through the use of online tactics, the video ad was able to have an extended the reach far beyond that of traditional media alone. In France, the Roller Babies advert aired one day after the web launch, however Nielsen research found that a whopping 95% of those who saw the video had not seen it on TV, but rather saw it online.

By creating buzz online and utilizing social networks--and having great content--Evian was able to leverage their online ad to its absolute fullest spreading its marketing messages globally. By focusing on these web-centric tactics Evian also saw a huge return on investment. The goal for new iterations of the ‘Live Young’ campaign is to move toward delivering the message that by drinking Evian one feels youthful. This digitally focused campaign “the baby is in you” features adults now, wearing t-shirts of a posing baby and has seen enormous web presence and viral success of its own.

* This research was conducted using Neilsen’s Online Ad Effectiveness Approach. A survey of 1007 adults was fielded 5 days after the campaign to evaluate the ad potency/latency of Evian’s creative. Evian ‘Live Young Ad Effectiveness: UK August 2009 Nielsen

Resources:

Baby Moonwalk
Baby Break Dance
Most played organic instances image: Unruly case study 2009

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