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[Podcast] The Story Behind the First Viral Video That Was Faked




Viral. As a parent, you loathe this word. It means sniffly, cranky kids and overtired adults. You can’t predict when a virus will take over your house, wreaking havoc and turning you into a sleep-deprived shell of your former self. And you can never predict when a video is going to go viral.


Why do they happen? Everyone wants a recipe, a formula, a step-by-step guide to creating a video that’ll generate buzz and millions of views. But the reality is this: no one knows. You simply cannot predict what will catch the world’s attention at any particular moment.


Back in 1997, it was a seemingly disgruntled, frustrated, stressed office worker.





Vinnie Licciardi, an employee at a tech company called Loronix, was working in his cubicle when he just had enough. He pounds on the keyboard, and then attacks his computer with a vengeance. To be fair, who hasn’t wanted to do that?


What happened next, though, was revolutionary. The video was passed around via email — badday.mpg. It spread from cubicle to cubicle and office to office until it arrived in the inbox of a TV news producer. Vinnie didn’t realize he was “famous” until a coworker told him he saw him on the news a few weeks later.


But it turns out that the first viral video was a fake — or at least there was more to the story. Loronix was developing DVR technology for security cameras and needed footage to demonstrate to clients how it worked. Enter Vinnie and his cubicle rage. People loved it; it was relatable and human.


So does “relatable” and “human” make for viral video fame. Who knows? They. Just. Happen. If your plan is to create a viral video, you’ve already lost. There’s no chance. Viewers seem to have an innate sense of when people (and brands) are trying to be viral, so they think, “Poser” and move on. It must be authentic.


If lightning does strike, though, and your video goes viral, be prepared to capitalize on it immediately. It’s lightning in a bottle, and it only lasts a short time before it’s replaced by another viral video, and another, and another.


We can’t guarantee a viral video, but we will make business videos that work. You can struggle in vain to win viral status and your 15 minutes of fame — or you can connect with your audience powerfully and consistently. Your choice.