Marketers pine for great viral videos, of course, but no matter how much sweat and HTML is spilled over the subject, there will never be a surefire formula for smash hit, mega-famo success. And if it happens, such success will rarely be on the marketer’s desired terms.

Fortunately, this is the low-cost, easy-distribution, ADD internet we’re talking about, where you can throw as much unique, half-cooked content against the wall as possible to see what sticks. You may find a hit, but if not you’ve still produced niche, residual-friendly stuff that can selectively benefit your brand for some time.

(ASIDE: there’s plenty of debating to be done about the definition of viral video, but for me it’s a pretty simple test – is this a video that I want to send to my friends? It doesn’t really matter why I’m sending it, who made it, the video’s original purpose, or whether my Mom will end up sending it to her friends (localized or specialized virus, doctor?). Seems to me that such things belong to the internet now (the term and the videos themselves), and we can all do with them as we will.)

out-of-your-league-girl

Enter Converse and its new collection of microsites. Clearly the work of some quirky creatives and a gifted GoDaddy user, the campaign provides several classic additions to the robust single serving site meme. It also features various destinations that offer an interesting new take on the nature of viral video.

The sites – including iseverythinggoingtobeokay.com, atleastyournotlostatsea.com, onashoestringfilms.com, amtoo.net, and many more – don’t revolve around view counts, embed codes, or vitriolic comments. There aren’t celebrities or complex messages to deal with (that comes later).

Each site is a simple, self-contained experience with only the most subtle branding and links to additional sites obscuring the videos. That’s not to say that the sites shun the all important Web 2.0 “conversations”  – the fun URLs clearly had blog linkage in mind, and the mesmerizing videos of outofyourleaguegirl (also here, here, here, and here) proved quite adept at getting the geekerati talking.

All it takes is a link to one of the sites to keep you clicking through an impressive wormhole of content. It’s an “immersive experience” that would please any mad suit, though some are baffled by its lack of identity and targeting (they must have missed the brand destruction for the sake of science). But I like the videos, even the schmaltzy ones, and I like Converse for putting something different out there.

That’s what will stick in my mind, unlike a finely-tuned marketing message, and might even get my feet in a pair of Chuck Taylors. I don’t think I’m alone on this.

And the content-for-content’s-sake approach will allow Converse to keep their campaign more up to date than any static, expensive ads. They can do a little NBA draft spoof (Silky Steve’s D is off the scale!) if an idea takes them and even offer some memorable patriotism for July 4.

It’s all provocative and fun to watch, though I wonder what Len Cella might think of the approach. Watch a few clips from his eighties Moron Movies and try to tell me he didn’t have an uncanny anticipation YouTube and viral video (this absurdist Converse installment certainly owes him a tip of the hat). Brilliant.

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