Is DC Shoes' surprisingly arty spot one of 2015's best viral ads?

Social video expert Unruly reviews the latest viral by DC Shoes.

Robbie Maddison’s ‘Pipe Dream’

DC Shoes is a brand that knows more than a little about making a splash in the world of online video advertising.

While it would be easy for an ad of this type to deal in mindless tyre-spinning, it’s a surprisingly artful outing and promises a lot for the brand’s newer work. 9/10

For several years, the extreme clothing brand sat at the helm of Ken Block’s ‘Gymkhana’ spots, an unconventional and wildly popular series whose entries number among some of the most-shared online ads of all time. With potentially the most successful video advertising franchise of all time under your belt, where else is there for DC Shoes to go?

The answer, unsurprisingly for a bunch of adrenaline-heads, is bigger and better. And its latest spot, Robbie Maddison’s ‘Pipe Dream’, certainly delivers on that promise.

Making a splash

Starring the aforementioned Maddison, an Australian motorbike stunt rider par excellence, the spot takes the usual tropes of ‘How can this be happening?’ stunt video and raises the ‘Is this physically possible factor?’ tenfold. Let’s just say that Robbie’s nickname, ‘Maddo’, is well-earned.

Before getting into the video itself, it’s worth mentioning that DC Shoes’s latest ad has been shared nearly 1m times in the three days since it first went live.

To put that in context, those figures put ‘Pipe Dream’ miles ahead of the second most-shared this month, Always’ Unstoppable. And that was released at the beginning of July. So it’s not overstating matters to say that DC Shoes has a massive, massive hit on their hands.

Watching the video, it’s easy to see why. Relatively brisk compared to their previous efforts, ‘Pipe Dream’s svelte four minutes manages to pack in shareworthy thrill after thrill.

Pipe dream to reality 

Riding a specially-adapted motocross bike, the fun begins when Maddison casually drives his vehicle across the surface of a lake. Seemingly convinced of his steed’s new amphibious qualities, the stuntman then proceeds to drive all the way along the river, as casually as you’d pull onto the motorway to nip to IKEA. If this still isn’t making sense, trust us: it’s the kind of act that needs to be seen to be believed.

Eventually, and inevitably, Maddison’s mad invention makes it to the open sea. Part of the viewing pleasure of ‘Pipe Dream’ is the attention to detail and cinematic scope brought to the stunt.

Zipping alongside Maddison, and shooting from above and below the waves, the production team clearly went all out to capture his feat of madness. There’s even time spared for a little visual humour, with a wide shot of Maddison absolutely ripping past a boat of idle canoers, leaving them in his metaphorical dust.

Shared widely across Facebook Video and other social platforms, there is a strong precedent for this kind of attention-grabbing viral stunt.

Previous contenders include Red Bull’s gleefully childish 'Imaginate', the same brand’s record-breaking ‘Space Jump’ and even something like Honda’s outlandishly complex ‘A Message To Space’.

The WOW effect

Ads which elicit a sense of glorious disbelief tend to share very well on online platforms, as there’s nothing better than passing that feeling along.

While it seems like a simple solution to fly a hovercraft off a waterfall or ride a scooter down the Great Wall of China, devising the right kind of stunt ad is an art all its own.

This is where ‘Pipe Dream’ so thoroughly succeeds. In a short, tense timeframe, DC Shoes unleashes a spectacle that’s both exhilarating and elegant.

While it would be easy for an ad of this type to deal in mindless tyre-spinning, it’s a surprisingly artful outing and promises a lot for the brand’s newer work.

Leaving ‘Gymkhana’ firmly in the past, this new spot finds DC Shoes exploring new territory - and producing one of 2015’s best viral ads in the process. 


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