Viral review: Need for Speed ad races to online success

Social video experts Unruly evaluate the latest viral campaign from Need for Speed.

Ford Fiesta ST RX43
Ford Fiesta ST RX43

Need For Speed: Gymkhana Six

In the social video advertising universe there are no bigger stars than Ken Block.

While it’s not to everyone’s taste, there’s no doubting the huge success of the motorsport star’s Gymkhana series. It’s the most popular branded web series of all time, with three of the five previous Gymkhana ads appearing in the top 20 most shared ads.

So it’s no surprise that the much-awaited sixth instalment of the popular web series has attracted a lot of attention this week. The key difference this time around is the brand. Unlike the previous five films, this one is not a DC Shoes production, the footwear brand of which pro-racer Block is a co-founder.

Instead, it's a tie-in with popular videogame franchise Need for Speed. At just over six minutes, it’s also shorter than previous episodes.

However, in terms of something new, there is little else to talk about. But then why mess with a winning formula?

His fans know what to expect, and Block, fresh from his GRC 2013 win in Las Vegas, does not disappoint them. Once again, he does things with a car us mere mortals can only dream about. This time, however, his Ford Fiesta ST RX43 squeals and jumps its way around a giant playground, built at an airport, while avoiding two Lamborghinis, a huge wrecking ball and a couple of cops on Segways.

The ad has already raced its way to almost 400,000 shares in less than three days, creating a lot of talk about Need For Speed: Rivals ahead of its launch next week.

So what’s the secret of its success? Well, there’s no doubt that Block has a noisy and highly influential army of hardcore petrolhead fans to rely upon, who count the days until the release of the next Gymkhana instalment. Teasing the release of the new ad a few days in advance was also a great way to build anticipation ahead of its release.

But exhilarated by some of the incredible stunts on display, and the ever-increasing production budgets, these ads also appeal to a much broader audience than just die-hard motorsport fans.

Using exhilaration as the main emotional trigger, a tactic barely used by the vast majority of advertisers despite recent research finding it is the emotion most likely to lead to brand recall, also makes these ads stand out from the crowd.

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