The S.M.A.S.H. Formula: A Creative Video Strategy

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Chris Austin

On Monday, September 25th, we launched the “Don’t Say Velcro” campaign that explained to the world what the heck a hook and loop fastener is and that the VELCRO® mark should always be used as an adjective, and never as a noun or a verb.

Don’t Say Velcro

In just the first 36 hours, the video has already been viewed millions of times all over the world but it has a long way to go to catch another crazy video – Xmas Jammies – which now has more than 17 million views on YouTube. Even more to match Volvo Trucks – The Epic Split and the 86 million views it has tallied. So what do singing lawyers have in common with the Muscles from Brussels and Xmas Jammies? S.M.A.S.H. is the answer.

Jean Claude Van Damme – The Epic Split

There is no way to make a video go viral. There is no magic formula. No viral button. But S.M.A.S.H. is a good start for a great video. Beyond a cool acronym, it’s a video creation strategy that was conceived by Penn Holderness and Greenroom Communications (now a part of Walk West) and serves as a framework for an entertaining, highly shareable video that is likely something different than anyone has seen before. The more S.M.A.S.H. boxes a video checks, the better chance it likely has to be shared around.

  • SPEED: Quick turnaround, topical, and fresh. This can be the most important, or the least, depending on the concept.
  • MUSIC: Whether it’s the centerpiece of the video or helps deliver the message, music is key to making it fun and memorable. Think Psy and the nearly 3 billion (with a “B”) views for Gangnam Style, certainly Xmas Jammies, and unmistakable Enya track behind Mr. Van Damme.
  • ASYMMETRY: Look for or create moments that are out of balance. Things you don’t normally see. The juxtaposition of things that don’t belong together. Lawyers singing in a music video with a plea for support on an intellectual property issue. An 80s action star doing the splits on two moving semi trucks. Or a family dancing around in their Christmas PJs outside, parents included.
  • SPONTANEITY: In the course of the writing, editing, and shooting of a video, you can’t be afraid to capture the unexpected moments and fit them into the piece. They may not have been part of your original plan, but they are often the best, and most memorable, moments in the final video.
  • HUMOR: Humor is not necessary for every video, but unless it’s an incredibly serious subject, find a way to make the viewer smile. “We ® the World” hopefully did so, and millions of people surely watched and rewatched Xmas Jammies because it makes them feel happy.

The “H” can also stand for honesty. Honesty in some form should find its way into every video. There’s a lot of it in the lyrics of “We ® the World” in a very fun way, but it also can take the form of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s monologue. It’s raw and honest and builds the tension up even higher ahead of the big reveal.

Also, watch the behind the scenes video on the campaign and a bonus video from Penn on directing the music video. And just for fun, and a little Asymmetry, check out the Tiny Kitchen videos on Instagram.

Video Asymmetry Tiny KitchenVideo Asymmetry Tiny Kitchen

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