A B2B viral video? Sounds like a contradiction in terms. The videos that most often go viral seem to riff on popular memes such as kids doing the darndest things, celebrity meltdowns, pop culture parodies or people doing just plain stupid (albeit amusing) things, with the inevitable embarrassing Fail. Poorly lit footage shot in shakycam just adds to the amateur cred, and bonus points are almost certain to be awarded if cute kittens, funny dogs, elephants or other animals are involved.
So a five-minute video for a Corning investor meeting–and one with high-end production values–would not seem a likely candidate to rack up over 11 million views on YouTube in just under three months. And indeed, “A Day Made of Glass” was not designed to go viral. It just tells a good story in a compelling and artful way. It’s the sort of thing Apple might do — with a slight nod to the movie “Minority Report“.
The message is simple: specialty glass comes in a variety of forms, and its properties such as durability and use as a display medium ensure it will be an integral part of our future. The magic comes in its depiction of everyday life in the near-future, in which every glass surface is potentially a data display. In one scene after another, we see plausible user interfaces and information displays that don’t exist in today’s world, but are similar enough to what we do today on our smartphones, tablets and touchscreens so as to be immediately recognizable. This has the effect of taking the familiar daily mobile experience and expanding it from the small screen in our hands to encompass our daily surroundings.
This scenario plays out with zero words, charts or talking corporate heads. And for that matter, no celebrities, no cute kittens, no loopy kids or goofy stunts – just the basic idea, which is clear 30 seconds into the video. But it’s told in such a compelling way that you’ll want to watch the whole thing. And even though it was made to underscore the case for glass to investors, its vision is easily accessible to anyone with a kitchen counter or a bathroom mirror. This has made it the most-watched corporate video of all time.
Those of us who make a living as digital storytellers are often asked to create viral videos — as though there was some formula that could be followed. Nonetheless, tips abound: keep it short, keep it moving, make it funny or snarky or precious. But in this case, we see that it’s possible to tell a great story about something apparently ordinary if you anchor it in a creative vision. That much, at least, seems clear as, well, glass.