Viral smashes to be dissected at BE Festival

festival of branded entertainmentThe story behind two of the world’s most successful pieces of brand-funded viral content ever made is to be revealed at next month’s Festival of Branded Content & Entertainment in Sydney.

Joel PearsonThe strategist behind the global success of Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, Joel Pearson, the London-based innovation director of media agency PHD’s global communications planning unit, will share the story of the complex realtime media buying strategy which kicked off what is thought to be the most watched viral ad in history.

John MescallAnd the creator of the multi- award winning Dumb Ways to Die, McCann Melbourne ECD John Mescall will discuss what made the content so shareable.

Pearson and Mescall will present the work, share results and debate what led to the viral success, and how it could be replicated. The session will be chaired by Adam Ferrier, head of behavioural science at Naked Communications.

The Dove campaign centered around a three minute short film in which a police sketch artist drew women as they described themselves, and sketched them again based on the descriptions offered by other people, with startling differences in the resulting portraits. It was was uploaded in 25 languages to 46 Dove branded YouTube channels, and achieved 163 million views worldwide.

The campaign for Metro Trains used a catchy pop song describing a cast of animated characters killing themselves in humorous and gruesome ways. At the time of writing it has had 58 million views on Youtube.

The work won three Mumbrella awards including Australia’s favourite TV ad and campaign of the year, a number of the radio industry’s Siren awards and an Effie in the small budget category. Both pieces won gold in the branded content category at Cannes this year, with Dumb Ways to Die picking up a record five Grand Prix and 18 Gold Lions.

The session, entitled “The myth of the viral: the secret relationship between branded content and paid, earned and owned media” will examine different approaches to ensuring content reaches its audience, how to amplify viral success and the relationship between paid media and branded content.

Pearson was formerly interactive strategist at Whybin \TBWA Sydney.

The festival – consisting of a networking afternoon, conference and awards ceremony, is organised by Mumbrella’s parent company Focal Attractions.

Tickets to the Festival – and the programme – are available via this link.

Marketers are eligible for free places at the Festival networking forum on October 2. Those interested should contact Denise Jinks

Festival sessions announced so far include:


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.