Jokes on us, apparently.  I’ll bet you’ve seen some of these videos.

An Australian production studio, The Woolshed Co., has been messing with our minds for the past two years.  They called it a “two-year social experiment exploring the phenomenon of ‘viral’ videos and shareable content.”  I call it creating fake videos to see what happens.

Their objective: to experiment with the conception, creation and distribution of a series of short form, ‘snackable’ content pieces intended to reach and entertain a worldwide audience regardless of medium or platform and without aid of any paid media, promotion, publicity, established channels or distribution networks.

From shark attacks to lightning strikes, bears chasing snowboarders to drones falling into Burning Man – the world watched, they shared and then they argued like hell over their authenticity. It was this debate over authenticity that propelled each videos’ viral success.

The stories were viewed in 180+ countries around the world and made news headlines in countless news and entertainment services, including all three commercial networks in Australia – Network Seven, Nine and Ten. Internationally, the clips grabbed the attention of NBC, FOX, CBS, CNN, Sky News and ABC (USA) as well as networks across Europe, UK, USA, Japan, Russia, Canada, China and South Korea. Print and online publications also contributed to the buzz, with The Guardian, Sky News, News Limited, The Independent, The Mirror, The Sun,The Telegraph and Time Magazine all sharing the content, and then weighing in on the debate.

fake videos

But it was all fake.

The Woolshed Co. Managing Director, Dave Christison, said the content series was envisioned as a social experiment to explore the creation and distribution of ‘new media’, with the process involving The Woolshed Co.“strategising, creating, releasing and then integrating the learnings into the next piece”

“We set out to better understand exactly how to create short-form, highly shareable, snackable’ content, that is capable of reaching worldwide mass audiences, without the luxury of pricey media buys, ad campaigns, publicity strategies or distribution deals.” – Dave Christison, The Woolshed Co.

The Woolshed Co. experimented with:

  • Concept creation approaches (figuring out what people want to click on next)
  • Production techniques (stock footage, editing, CGI and compositing etc.),
  • Distribution
  • Seeding strategies

All of this was done in an attempt to maximixe share-ability and entertainment value as the campaign progressed.

“We learned what worked, what didn’t, and what are absolute ‘must haves’ for any viral marketing campaign. Whether the story went for twenty seconds or two minutes, we aimed to take audiences on a ride that may shock them, make them laugh, make them cringe, but most importantly entertained them, no matter how brief, and no matter how questionable.” – Dave Christison, The Woolshed Co.