Thinkmodo Co-Founder On Leg-Humping Dogs & What It Takes To Go Viral

By Megan O'Neill 

When it comes to online video, it is every video creator and brand’s dream to “go viral,” but few actually accomplish this feat.  Analysts and web video experts have determined that there’s no secret formula to going viral and, if anything, luck plays the biggest role in the success of a viral video campaign.  Despite this, viral video marketing agency Thinkmodo, the masterminds behind campaigns such as the Times Square Hack for Limitless, flying people campaign for Chronicle, nude gaming parties, and others, has built their business on going viral.

I asked Thinkmodo co-founder Michael Krivicka to shed some light on the viral phenomenon and what it takes to go viral and how Thinkmodo has accomplished this feat time after time.  He told me, “It’s really not that difficult to go viral.  You can simply do a fun spoof on something that is trending online.  For example, there are many parodies of ‘Call Me Maybe’ that went viral.  Some were made by ad agencies and some by individuals who have too much time on their hands.  A dancing baby or a cute dog doing something funny is another way to go.  However, these approaches are not very original (to us) and we want to create things that will be remembered because they are the first of their kind.

“When you look at most of our work then you’ll see that our concepts have never been done before.  We were the first ones to hack a Times Square billboard, to create a shaving helmet, to make an underwater nightclub, etc.  The originality factor is a big part of the reason why our videos go viral.  The other part is the execution of the idea.  You can have the greatest idea in the world but if you don’t execute it right you will kill the idea.”

I was curious about how Thinkmodo works with brands, so I asked Krivicka whether brands come to his company with ideas or whether they just run with it on their own.  He told me, “We take full credit for every video concept we have ever created.  The idea always comes from us.  Studios, networks, and various brands come to us because they want to try something else besides traditional advertising.  They want something highly unique and innovative to get the word out.

“When somebody approaches us then they usually know what it is we specialize in.  That means they know we will present them with some really crazy stuff.  We usually pitch two to three concepts and we recommend one of them.  There is always a lot of brainstorming involved and also a lot of research to make sure that the ideas we come up with have not been done before.  That matters to us A LOT.”

Krivicka used Thinkmodo’s most recent campaign as an example—a viral video they created to promote AMC’s new unscripted show Small Town Security, which premieres this Sunday at 11/10c.

Krivicka explained how this video of “The Humpy Awards” came about.  “My partner James Percelay and I watched rough cuts of some of the episodes [of Small Town Security] months ago and we were on the floor laughing.  It is VERY funny stuff.  The idea for The Humpy Awards came from a dog that humps his owner’s leg in the show.  It is a moment that you witness in more than one episode.  For us, it was our ‘way in.’  We wanted to do something with a humping dog – something that would go along with the tone of the show.  After some extensive research we came to the conclusion that a leg humping competition for dogs would be the way to go.

“While our video shows a fictitious event, everything that you see in the show is real and unscripted.  We applaud AMC for being ballsy and going with a fresh and unique marketing approach to get the word out about a new show.  This was AMC’s first time to turn to viral marketing to promote a new show.  The feedback has been great.  Lots of TV news shows covered our video and talked about the show, lots of radio talk shows started conversations about it, and the online activity has been fun to watch.”

Krivicka was sure to point out that, “None of the humping was forced.  It was all natural and if dogs didn’t hump then they didn’t hump.  All dogs were pets living inside the owners’ houses.”

We’d love to hear your thoughts on Thinkmodo’s Small Town Security campaign, as well as their approach to viral video.  Please leave your comments below!

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast 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.