The World’s Hottest Ad Sells… a 1999 Barina Hatchback?

David Johns, a hitherto unknown digital director based in Sydney, is now the proud owner of a legitimate viral hit. His recently released YouTube ad for his 1999 Holden Barina hatchback has become an unexpected web sensation overnight, sparking views and comments the world over.

In just a matter of days, John has seen his video receive almost half a million views. The hashtag #buymybarina is a common sight on Twitter with over 64,000 retweets, showing that the video has gone beyond YouTube alone. It’s safe to say that Chimney’s marketing stunt has been a bona fide success.


But this video is about more than just a quirky ad for an old Barina. It encompasses several lessons that you can use in your own business, whether you’re a savvy digital agency or a local company selling something that’s a tad less glitzy.

Hmm… Looks Familiar?

Seeing this latest viral hit may have you scratching you head with a sense of déjà vu. But before you think about having your head examined, this isn’t the first viral video of someone’s attempt to sell a rust bucket.

We recently highlighted a Swedish director’s creative attempt to sell his 1993 Volvo, which drew over a million views on YouTube, became a trending topic on Twitter, and flooded Facebook feeds. The ad was clearly a rip-roaring success.

The fact that we’re seeing more of these types of ads shows that there’s method to the madness.

Using Multiple Platforms

The guys behind this video know how to market on the web, that’s for sure. The video’s about section is meticulously planned, despite its laid-back and playful façade. We see a link to the car’s official website (yes, it exists!), where the credence of the ad is beefed up even further and another marketing platform is opened up. But the real ingenuity comes in how offers for the car can be made to the owner.

Instead of asking prospective buyers to email or call – which would be the expected avenue for a ‘regular’ classified ad – you have to tweet your offer with the hashtag #buymybarina. The average punter wouldn’t be expected to see it, but it’s actually a very clever marketing move. It means that whenever an offer is made it’s done so publicly using a shared tag, meaning that it enforces the ad’s popularity on Twitter. That’s because more hashtags = viral = more hits.

Videos to Sell Anything?

But why are we seeing these types of creative – and perhaps a little quirky – ads popping up? We’re talking fully-fledged video productions to sell anything from old bangers to run-of-the-mill shaving products.  The basic fact is that the numbers show that they flat out work.

 People love them, sharing them on Facebook and retweeting as standard. YouTube racks up the views, giving the creators serious traction online. We’ve seen small businesses and individuals outdoing major corporations, from Wren Studio’s ‘First Kiss’ to Dollar Shave Club’s ‘Our Blades are F***ing Great’. The latter received a staggering 12,000 orders in the first few days after it was released – and that’s with a relatively modest marketing budget.

Just Selling a Car?

While the video was originally driven by Johns’ necessity to sell his ageing hatchback, it also provided an excellent opportunity for Chimney to display its creative wares to a wide audience. The video’s high production values, comedic twist, and great sound all combine to show that you can create a viral video on just about anything – even a 1999 Barina.

So even if you think you’re selling a ‘boring’ product or service, don’t think that there aren’t creative avenues you can take. As this video shows, you don’t have to show off your main product either (in this case: digital agency) – subtlety is often more effective than a blatant sales pitch.

These videos show that with a little bit of creativity and technical know-how you can trump juggernaut brands and make an impact. You can showcase your product to a worldwide audience, social platforms can help your business without you having to spend an additional dollar, and ultimately you’ll be seeing a very healthy return on investment.

Oh and yes – the Barina is also getting some very juicy offers that go well beyond its list price.

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