6 Reasons why The Harlem Shake Viral Video did well in Trinidad and Tobago


Although we’re no strangers to viewing and sharing international viral vids, and The Harlem Shake was no exception, Trinis, have not been the kings and queens of content creation. So what is it about the Harlem Shake that got us to mount up our cameras and share our local versions. The Harlem Shake is a song by electronic musician Baauer, popularized by hundreds of thousands of user-generated videos that were shared around the world, collectively achieving over 44 million views.

Well, having thought about it, I realized that the Loyalty Senses Model (2012) could share some basic insight into why it worked, and what local companies can do to gain milage for messages they want to go viral.

5 Senses of Product Loyalty

The Loyalty model indicates that a product (in this case a song) can gain loyalty from its target if it can be Seen, Heard, Experienced, Interacted with and resonate with Positive Associations. This is a foundational understanding of why we liked it. We saw it, we heard it, we experienced  it, manipulated it and associated it with our friends and fun times.

But why did it work in Trinidad and Tobago specifically?

Here’s why.

1. They’re short, so they’re easy to create, and easy to view. Once viewed, we didn’t mind viewing them again to show our friends at the office, and in school. Because they’re only 30 seconds long, it wasn’t a struggle for our “4G” suppliers to load them quickly on our smart phones.

2. They require involvement- It’s an experience. A marketer’s rule of thumb is “involvement breathes loyalty”, and, it is expected that the more involved a consumer is in a process, the more likely it is to resonate with him/her. Basically, because they’ve invested time and emotions into creating their own version of the video.

3. They could be done anywhere and they’re easy to do. The video template dictated that the video be shot from one angle, and at no particular venue, with no specific number of people. This made it something that could be done without prior planning. And trinis do well with spontaneity and last minute execution.

4. Classical Conditioning- That feel good feeling from watching the hilarity. A major part of our culture is our light-hearted humor and commentary. So, we were able to make subtle references to jokes that were relevant to us and package them as part of this epidemic. We watch the clip, we laugh, we feel good, we transfer those feel-good emotions onto the clip and we magically love the song.

5. The ability to customize and make 30 second declarations. An important concept to note about digital and social marketing is that people don’t want to talk about a product, they want to talk about themselves. So when Bmobile took to BBM as a medium for promoting their campaign “We Got This” in 2012, they made a subtle but very important change to the tag, they created animated images that said “I got this”, personalizing the campaign so that consumers saw it as personal declaration  which just happens to be associated with a brand. Each time a group of people upload a Harlem Shake video, they’re not saying “check out the Harlem Shake, its cool and new”, they’re saying, “check ME out doing the Harlem Shake, I’m cool and relevant”

6. It came right after carnival. Just like Chromatics’ Carnival “Rap up”, it came into the radar of Trinis just at a time that we were most receptive to most things non-soca. If this song was launched one month earlier, i’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have enjoyed half the attention it did. Just as the bouncin stopped, the Harlem Shake started. Good timing led to great fortune in Trinidad and Tobago.

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