Content Marketing

Anatomy of a Viral Video: Three Essentials for Connecting With Customers

Seth Godin has written many great marketing books, but his 2008 “Tribes” stands among the best – documenting how more than ever before we are shaped by our affinities and tribal associations, closely connecting with people beyond just the baseline demographics of age, race and gender. Mini Cooper owners like to hang out with Mini Cooper owners. Harley motorcycle riders hit the road with other Harley owners, Phish fans follow the band around the country, patients with a certain condition connect with similar patients, and of course sports fans paint their faces, screaming and cheering at every match. Godin explains that “human beings can’t help it: we need to belong. One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people.”

Given the growing importance of these tribal associations, which are fed and amplified by social media channels, brands which can genuinely connect with a tribe of customers, and meet them on their own turf, have the potential to make a memorable and lasting brand impression.

If your brand is looking to connect more closely with a particular tribe of customers, this recent viral video series by Emirates Airline is powerful example of how to score a big win.


Filmed at an HSV soccer match in Hamburg, this 90-second clip has received more than 850,000 views on YouTube, and demonstrates some key principles for reaching your particular tribe.

1). Show Up With Enthusiasm
As the video begins, we’re not sure what the Emirates flight attendants are up to – but it’s clear they are excited and enthusiastic to be on the field. They energize the fan base with their genuine happiness in being there. Make sure that your messaging and customer experience bring the energy needed to activate the tribe. If you step onto the tribal turf, but seem bored or disinterested, then you simply won’t connect.

2). Speak Their Language
In a powerful leap of imagination, the stadium announcer transforms the entire stadium into an airplane, and all the fans become passengers. But, the language used to describe the various safety features is based entirely in soccer terms. Correctly and playfully using the “insider” language of the tribe creates an instant bond with the people in the stadium, and communicates that Emirates has taken the time to learn their language and shares their enthusiasm.

3). Surprise and Delight
After the initial “pre-flight instructions” the attendants head toward the goal and start warming up. Much to everyone’s surprise, it turns out the cabin crew has some serious skills – even blasting the ball past the goalie with great enthusiasm. The crowd goes crazy cheering! Take the time to prepare that “little something extra” which will make everyone in your tribe smile with surprise.

Many tribes in today’s world cut across geographic boundaries. Once your brand has learned how to speak the language of a particular tribe, those insights can be translated and modified across many different geographies and settings. Watch these additional Emirates videos and notice how the three principles of Enthusiasm, Speak Their Language, and Surprise and Delight work with fans from all parts of the world, building a strong brand connection, and generating genuine excitement from the tribe!




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Jim Walker

Jim Walker

Jim Walker is Director, Marketing Strategy at Cadient, a Cognizant Company. Jim provides innovative marketing insights for a wide range of clients, as well as leading Cadient’s content marketing strategy. He is particularly interested in helping brand teams effectively leverage their digital content. He can be reached at
Jim Walker

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