Nike shows savvy with viral video ad featuring ‘Gossip Girl’ star Momsen

“Viral” is a daunting word for digital marketers. Agreeing to produce a viral campaign is easy to promise and hard to deliver. Numerous brands have executed successful viral campaigns, but there is little rhyme or reason about which videos gain popularity and those that fall flat.

Unexpectedness and offering a unique perspective are two commonalities that drive a massive following, but those traits are too vague to be useful at the drawing board. Here is a video that I think captures users’ attention and promotes a brand without coming across as a blatant advertisement.

Nike has its choice of all-star athletes to appear in their marketing executions.

Here, they opt for a popular actress from the CW’s television show Gossip Girl. Star Taylor Momsen is featured escaping from an onslaught of paparazzi by jumping over cars and leaping over photographers, but before all of this, the camera deliberately shows viewers her new Nike shoes and athletic apparel.

This subtle advertisement is noteworthy for two main reasons: It targets a new demographic group for Nike (teenage females) and piggybacks onto an earlier viral video. Its predecessor ran last year and shows Kobe Bryant donning Nike gear and jumping over a speeding Aston Martin. The video has been watched by millions of YouTube viewers and spurred a number of spoofs.

This new video is far more subtle and just as effective at resonating with its target audience. When this video came across my desk, I watched it twice to decipher whether this is in fact a guerilla Nike advertisement or just a fortunate coincidence. Apparently, I am not the only one because many of the video’s viewers are debating the legitimacy of the advertisement. The ambiguous nature of the commercial helps contribute to its popularity. It literally forces viewers to watch it multiple times and forward it on to their peers for a second opinion—the heart and soul of a viral execution.

The context of the video is also effective. The young, female demographic are the main consumers of celebrity news, so by creating a covert advertisement in this situation, Nike is able to attract viewers’ attention before they are aware of its underlying marketing message. In short, targeted users would watch the video regardless of the actress’ outfit and shoe choice.

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