When it comes to online video creation that crackles with digital engagement magic, look no further than at a tiny shell and an ordinary piece of fruit. This week a lot of noise has been made about two separate viral video smash-hits and their respective roads to brand expansion.
The squeaky-voiced Marcel the Shell is surely the kind of loveable children’s icon which has been wisely written and expertly crafted to keep older viewers involved as well. The video Marcel the Shell with Shoes On chronicled the day-to-day life of the loveable character and raked in an amazing 11 million YouTube views since its debut in August of last year. Voiced by SNL alum Jenny Slate, the video went on to be parodied, copied and auto-tuned. The only thing left for Marcel to do was hit the big time… And he’s arriving in bookstores this week with a children’s book as talk of a television show is in the works. Marcel’s simple stop-motion animation, along with the clever writing, have quickly turned the video into a classic and the character — if packaged correctly — into an endearing children’s icon.
What Marcel has in charm, the Annoying Orange oozes in, well, being annoying. Unlike Marcel, the Orange has dozens of videos and a staggering 800 million views on YouTube. Middle schoolers have latched on to the Orange’s pun-heavy humor and sarcastic attitude. The New York Times looked at the videos success this week and examined why the Orange has had a rough road to becoming the next viral-video-to-television crossover success story. Don’t cry for the Annoying Orange though; creator Dane Boedigheimer hit the jackpot with just-in-time-for-the-holidays merchandising deals with Toys “R” Us, JCPenneys and Radio Shack featuring the mouthy citrus on a variety of products.
Both Marcel and the Annoying Orange have that viral “it” factor that marketers drool over. Each character makes viewers stop, laugh and escape for a few minutes while making you want more. Pretty impressive for a couple of inanimate objects.