Inside The Creative Agency Behind TNT’s ‘Dramatic Surprise’

By Megan O'Neill 

In April of last year, TNT’s ‘Dramatic Surprise’ became the second most-shared viral ad of all time, following VW’s ‘The Force’.  I had the opportunity to speak with Kris Hoet, Head of Digital at Duval Guillaume Modem, the Belgian creative agency behind the campaign, to find out more about the company, their successful campaigns, and working with brands to create viral success stories.

Hoet gave me a bit of background on the company.  “Duval Guillaume Modem was founded 17 years ago as Duval Guillaume by André Duval and Guillaume Vanderstighelen.  We started out in Brussels, and opened other locations in Belgium after that, but today we’re back in just one location in Antwerp.  We’ve always believed that creativity based on strong insights delivers better results and because of that the agency has had a creative reputation since the start.”

The company has worked on countless campaigns over the years, but really made its way into the Internet limelight following their TNT spot, ‘Dramatic Surprise On A Quiet Square.”  The video has amassed over 44 million views on YouTube so far.

I asked Hoet about what it was like to create one of the biggest viral successes of all time.  He said, “We couldn’t ever have imagined the success of TNT.  It did approximately 10 million views in the first 48 hours and ended up being the second most shared commercial ever.  There’s no way you can be prepared for something like that, let alone plan for it.”

Following the success of the TNT campaign, Duval Guillaume Modem has racked up millions of views for other brands, including ‘Unlock the 007 in you’, a Coke Zero campaign that turned unsuspecting Coke Zero drinkers into Bond, a viral ad for Belgian bank Febelfin, in which an ‘Amazing mind reader reveals his gift’, and the recent followup to the first TNT campaign called ‘A dramatic surprise on an ice-cold day’.  Earlier this month, the agency launched a fun campaign for Carlsberg as well, which puts friends to the test.

With two million views and 250k shares in just under a week, the agency is viewing the Carlsberg campaign as a success.  Hoet says, “overall sentiment is really good, people talk about friendship and what friendship means and that’s part of what we wanted achieve.”

With so much success under Duval Guillaume Modem’s belt, I asked Hoet if he had any insight into how to go about marketing and promoting campaigns in order to get the viral ball rolling.  He told me, “There’s no secret formula of viral marketing, if there were we would be rich.  But if you’re able to answer the brief in a way that is something the client likes and you think people will like, that is an original creative idea, something that is thought provoking and on brand, then you’re off to a good start.”

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video expert here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.