The virality of Patti LaBelle

patti-smAnd now some lighter fare from our usual blog content in honor of Thanksgiving.

I start out this blog post with a shout out to Patti LaBelle. Philly’s reigning diva is having quite the year. She had a nice run on Dancing with the Stars, a recurring role on American Horror Story: Freak Show, took a turn on FOX’s breakout hit Empire, and now, an unexpected career in the kitchen. In addition to the soul singer’s recipe for “Over-the-Top-Top-Top Macaroni and Cheese” appearing in the November issue of Philly Mag (right next to Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s cornbread recipe), and her new Cooking Channel show Patti LaBelle’s Place airing next month, Patti’s line of sweet potato pies are selling like crazy at Walmart, thanks to an extremely well-timed (and hilarious) viral video. Patti and one of her biggest fans are teaching all of us about the impact of videos gone viral on product and brand awareness.

come on patti

The viral video “My Review on Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pie” [embedded at the bottom of this post], which has racked up over 10 million views and 350,000 shares on Facebook alone, features a very talented and now famous fan extolling the value of Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pies, complete with spot-on renditions of Patti’s top hit songs.

After the video went viral, consumer demand for Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pies skyrocketed. Pies were flying off the shelves so quickly that an online black market emerged listing pies for a steep going-rate of $6,000 a piece! Allegedly, Walmart had to scramble to secure two million additional pounds of sweet potatoes in order to meet the increased demand. The video was featured on major national business outlets, including USA Today and Business Insider touting their amazement at the clip’s ability to impact sales.

But, lots of videos go viral. How did this one manage to move a massive amount of product? Jonah Berger, a Wharton professor and author of now-omnipresent marketing book Contagious says viral is great, but valuable virality is better. “If people can’t connect the content to the brand, or remember who made the video in the first place, the content ends up just being entertainment.”

mainAs always, it all comes back to content. When developing your brand’s owned content, consider the following:

Deliver your brand’s messaging in a way that delights rather than just informs. James Wright namedrops Patti LaBelle and her pies countless times but by hilariously peppering in popular Patti LaBelle tunes and choreography, keeps the viewer engaged.

Include a clear call to action for a desired outcome. After professing his love for the savory side dish, Wright urges – no, commands – viewers to ‘go to Walmart’ and pick up a pie or two. For your brand, a call to action could be as simple as a retweet, like or share.

Hire someone hilarious to do all of your video promos. We’re only half-serious with this one. While having a great messenger is helpful, content will always remain king.

If you haven’t yet seen the clip, the video is below (slightly NSFW due to profanity). Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving from D+P!

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