A&E Viral Gets ‘Freaky’

NEW YORK When the grungy guy in the video gets the second letter of your name right, interest is piqued. When he gets the full name and follows up with your phone number, eeriness sets in.

While Criss Angel, the magician star of A&E’s Mind Freak show, might not be truly clairvoyant, he has a viral video campaign that makes it seem like he is. The push, created by Omnicom digital agency EVB, uses hundreds of dynamically combined video shots to create the illusion of mind reading.

Launched Tuesday, the viral push begins at www.freakyourmind.com, where visitors enter a friend’s name and phone number. The site generates a Web address to forward, which hosts a video with the mind trick employing the recipient’s name and number. Angel then follows up shortly afterwards with a pre-recorded, personalized call to say it was all a joke—along with a reminder to tune in to Mind Freak‘s premiere episode June 5.

Shop CEO Daniel Stein envisions the “Freak your mind” campaign, which targets 18-34-year-old males, approaching the viral success of EVB’s “Elf yourself” push for OfficeMax, which generated for 35 million views in five weeks.

A key to both campaigns is that they require minimal effort, according to Stein. “That’s one of our best practices,” he said. “The time investment is next to nothing.”

EVB spent a day filming Angel using 500 different names and a series of numbers. Once a user enters a name and number, a video file is automatically assembled to match the details.

“It’s not like the 411 operator,” he said. “We had to make sure everything would come across seamless.”

To enhance the illusion, the user is not sent to a freakyourmind.com URL, but instead EVB uses a time4vids.com site that appears like a run-of-the-mill video sharing site.

EVB is tracking video views and visits to freakyourmind.com, but its goal is to lure viewers to the show.

“The measurement and tying viral to metrics is still probably the most difficult thing,” Stein said. “There’s no real benchmark yet.”