What “Kittens, Inspired By Kittens” Teaches Us

The daughter of Fallon’s own ECD Al Kelly has confounded much of our agency “viral” science in recent days with her unexpected and cute lil’ YouTube vid entitled “Kittens, Inspired By Kittens”.

In only a few days “Kittens…” has garnered over 300K views, made boingboing, Cute Overload,trended #3 top shared link last nite on Twitter, YouTube honors now incl #3 – Most Responded (Today) Pets & Animals, #13 – Most Responded (This Week) – Pets & Animals category.

Now, the reason this video is confounding to a strategist at an ad agency: it’s all serendipity, folks, no budget, no client, no strategy, no objective intent – just Al Kelly sharing the infectious joy of his 6-year-old girl reading a childrens’ book. That’s the brief simple and plain. Either she’s way smarter than us strategerists, or we’re way overthinking it sometimes.


The success of “Kittens…” (and hundreds of goofy vids like it) often flies in the face of much of our well-produced, branded, and strategized factory “virals”. So what gives? Is “viral” still just a roll of the dice – particularly for brands? Do we embrace the more-faster-cheaper ethos that drives the users? Do we recruit 6-year-olds to generate ideas for us? Do we get her to replicate the magic – this time for a brand? And it makes me wonder, if we had pitched “Kittens…” to a client would they ever have approved it? And if a client would’ve approved “Kittens…” would they have added too many brand mandatories that would slow down its “viral” appeal?

I do think we may learn 7 applicable lessons from “Kittens…” to add into our “viral video” toolbox for surefire success:
1) Embrace Silly – stupid is ok, too! (serendipity)
2) Getit?Gotit?Good. – make it a fast, easy “get”: a girl reading a childrens book about kittens – got it. (science)
3) Embrace ‘Good Enough’ – shoot it fast and cheap, poor production value is good enough as long as they see it and hear it. (science)
4) Tap an emotional core that people want to share in spreading – people are immediately on this girl’s side, we want to help her succeed at this book report. (serendipity)
5) Add Cute Kidlike Billy Dee Williams always said: “Works every time!”(science)
6) Add Cute Kittens (science)
7) Try, Try Again – rinse and repeat the above – the old broadcast method dictated we shoot one big production a year. The YouTube method says shoot more micro ideas and release them freely to the wild. (serendipity)