There's More To Serena's YouTube Success (1.17MM) Than Sex

I have to admit that, at first, I didn't <i>get it</i>. Last month, at <a href="">Mashup Camp</a> in Silicon Valley (the next camp will be in June in NYC), Serena debuted its <a href="">Just @#$% It!! What are they saying?</a> video.(The video also is embedded below.) The video (now up to 1.17M views) features office workers telling each other to "mash it" as though the word "mash" is a dirty word. Each occurrence of it (and ther

David Berlind, Chief Content Officer, UBM TechWeb

April 7, 2008

4 Min Read

I have to admit that, at first, I didn't get it. Last month, at Mashup Camp in Silicon Valley (the next camp will be in June in NYC), Serena debuted its Just @#$% It!! What are they saying? video.(The video also is embedded below.) The video (now up to 1.17M views) features office workers telling each other to "mash it" as though the word "mash" is a dirty word. Each occurrence of it (and there are many) is bleeped out. By the time the librarian-esque female star of the video has "@#$%-ed" it, the bun in her hair isn't so tightly wrapped, there's a bit more flesh showing below the neckline, and......the glasses come off. You get the picture (OK, if you don't, look below).


By the end of the video, pretty much everyone in the video has a little more spring in their step, as though they got lucky in the last 24 hours, and Serena has subtly if not effectively slipped in a message that anyone can mash-up an application with one net result being more agility on behalf of the organizations that embrace the emergent approach to Web-based application development. Serena makes mashup development tools that mostly target businesses.

So, what didn't I get? When Serena debuted the video at Mashup Camp, there wasn't one person in the room who didn't know the bleeped out word was "mash" or some derivative thereof. But on YouTube, there's a huge audience of people -- many of whom are exactly the sort of people that Serena is trying to reach (businesspeople who aren't aware of how easy it is to mash browser-based apps up or what a mashup even is) -- who had no idea what the word was that was being bleeped out. Obviously, the assumption is that it's something sexual.

Not only did the sexual innuendo in the video's title "fool" many of YouTube's audience members, it is even fooling YouTube's relevance engine as many of the related videos that YouTube is automatically pulling up are ones that are far more sexually explicit. For example, in the list of "Related Videos" is a promotional video for a sex toy called the Rabbit (the title of the video is "Hot Blond D***o Expert") and several videos from WE TV's Secret Lives of Women series.

The video, which is tastefully done, wasn't Serena senior director of global marketing Michael Parker's first foray into the video medium or the YouTube world. But after a bit of practice and working with the medium, it clearly is the one that has experienced the most success so far. When I told Parker via e-mail how, even though it took me a while, I finally saw the genius in the video, he wrote back:

Using YouTube, viral videos, and what I call "social networking in the enterprise" is an ongoing learning experience. If I had a dent on my forehead for every "doh!" moment ... well ... I'd have no forehead!

Sure, perhaps practice makes perfect. In his e-mail, Parker goes on to point me to some two-year old videos that he produced while at Symantec. Then again, if you knew Parker, then you'd know that there's a bit more to it than practice. Parker is one-part practical joker (the kind you fear if you're a close friend) who finds humor in everything. Parker can hardly hold a conversation without having another one of his creative brainstorms, each with the potential to turn our light-hearted side into currency. And lest you think he's selfish with these brainstorms, think again. If you take 10 minutes to explain your business to him, he'll start spewing ideas back at you.

So, what's the point? I'm not here to promote Serena's tools. That would be a conflict of interest since Serena also is a sponsor of Mashup Camp, an event over which I preside. But if you're an IT pro or some other business professional reading this and your organization isn't embracing new technologies and mediums in creative ways to generate awareness, then perhaps it's time for you to step up and inject some new thinking into the process. This isn't just about technology products, either. Need some more inspiration? Then check out the $15,000 that Procter & Gamble gave away to the best user-produced video about its product, The Swiffer. In this case, Procter & Gamble leveraged the medium and the technology by relying on the creativity of its customers. In other words, somewhere in your customer base lurks another Michael Parker.

Between the Internet, socially enabled viral publishing tools like YouTube, sub-$200 video cameras that can record great video, and video-editing software like Adobe's Premier or Apple's Final Cut, the barriers to entry are so incredibly low that one thing is for sure: if you don't take advantage of the opportunities, your competitors will.

Oh, here's the video:

About the Author(s)

David Berlind

Chief Content Officer, UBM TechWeb

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights