The Evian video known as the Roller Babies was a smash hit on YouTube when it was uploaded on July 1, 2009. By mid-November, it was declared by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the most viewed video ad with over 45 million views. The marketing company behind it was declared to be a genius.
But someone forgot to remind people to buy the product after watching the video.
In an ironic twist of fate, sales of Evian water dropped a precipitous 25% that year and Evian’s market share shrunk.
Something went wrong. A good ad is supposed to increase sales, not reduce it.
The video was extremely entertaining. The benefit of the product was featured prominently in the ad with the theme being called “Live Young”.
What was missing?
An ad needs to get you to do two things:
1. Get you to see yourself using the product.
2. Get you to see that your life will be better off for it.
The second point was definitely emphasized – the sight of babies doing advanced roller skating is the epitome of performance enhancement.
But what about the first point? How did it get people to see themselves using the product?
Since the entire video was all about enhanced performance, there was nothing about people using the product. Not one second of footage showed the babies drinking the water. Would that have helped? Who knows?
But one thing we do know is that nobody saw themselves using the product so after the video was over, they went back to the water they had always been drinking. As a matter of fact, many people stopped drinking Evian water, so the ad did not only not generate sales but it could not even help retain customers.
This goes to show simplistic measurements, such as the one-dimensional metric of view count, do not always test the true effectiveness of the ad.
The real test of an ad’s effectiveness is the bank account.