#DamnDaniel – Anatomy of a Viral Video
For the last month or so, my daughter has been asking for a new pair of Vans, the timeless skateboard shoes. Here in Southern California, they are a rite of passage. We just bought her a pair for Christmas, so we haven’t been in a hurry to rush out and get her a new pair. She wasn’t real persistent, maybe asking once a week or so, nothing crazy.
That changed this week. She has been on us for a new pair, hard. I knew something was up. In the past, I would have suspected that her friends were all getting them, so she wanted to keep up with the kids at school, however we live in a new age and kids are so plugged in that I guessed something was up on social media.
As I suspected, let me introduce you to Daniel Lara and Josh Holz, two fresh faced kids from Southern California. They are high school buddies from Riverside, California and they are pure marketing gold.
Celebs like Jimmy Fallon, Ellen Degeneres and Justin Bieber have caught on to their shtick, and brands like Zappos, Clorox and most notably Vans are riding the lastest viral video wave.
Here’s the backstory.
On, February 15th, Josh tweeted a compilation of daily Snapchat videos taken of his buddy Daniel and his fashion choices, with the catchphrase “Damn Daniel.”
Here’s the original Tweet and video:
Damn Daniel pic.twitter.com/Va10hmpePO
— josh (@josholzz) February 16, 2016
In a couple of instances, Josh hones in on Daniel’s choice of White slip-on Vans and quips “Damn Daniel, back at it again with the White Vans.” This is the marketing gold (more on that later).
The video has it all, a fresh face, Josh’s narration, product placement and a winning catchphrase. The video has taken off like fire and as of this writing has 336,000 Retweets, 450,000 Likes and an estimated 45 million views of the video.
Within 10 days, Josh and Daniel made an appearance on the “Ellen Degeneres Show.”
The video has been written about by Teen Vogue, the Huffington Post, and an in-depth piece by the New York Times. “Damn Daniel” has been featured in a Jimmy Fallon Monologue, and just last night, Josh was the victim of a serious hoax called swatting, where it was reported that Josh had shot his mother with an AK-47 and the Riverside police SWAT team was dispatched to his house. The incident was reported on this morning by Good Morning America. All in the matter of just 10 days. Yikes!!
From my perspective the most interesting part of the #DamnDaniel trend is seeing how brands are creatively riding the wave of this viral phenomenon. Here are some examples of a few brands whose social media teams caught on quickly and jumped on the trending #DamnDaniel.
— Clorox (@Clorox) February 18, 2016
Nice post and nod to the trend, however they get knocked down a bit for not having Vans in their image. That would have been a home run. This is probably a triple.
“Back at it again with the white vans!” #DamnDaniel
— Zappos (@zappos) February 21, 2016
Clearly Zappos gets it, and kills it with the right shoes, and the link to buy them. Awesome!!
The Big Winner: Vans
The big winner in all of this is Vans. Vans has been a staple of the teen wardrobe since the 1960’s. They were big when I was in high school and they are certainly big right now with the teen set. They have been relatively low-key with their own take on the #DamnDaniel trend. Here is a sly mention of it back on February 19th.
— Vans (@VANS_66) February 19, 2016
This is a nice creative nod to “Damn Daniel” and the catchphrase without being too overt. The real beauty of this for them is that everyone else is talking about their product, and the response is global. Just last night Justin Bieber, who is FLAMING HOT right now performed at the Brit Awards in his White Vans, a nod to “Damn Daniel.”
It will be interesting to see the impact on Vans first and second quarter results. I suspect a spike in sales as people rush out and get their white slip-ons.
We live in interesting times, when two anonymous teenagers in Riverside can create arguably the biggest ad campaign of the year on an iPhone for a long time brand like Vans. Two kids creating something that they think is funny, sharing it on social media and impacting a brand globally.
For it’s part Vans realized the impact of what these two kids provided to their brand, and rewarded Daniel with a lifetime supply of Vans on the Ellen Degeneres show, while Josh the brains behind the video got a custom surfboard.
As for my daughter, she really wants some slip on Vans to go with her other two pairs of lace ups. We’ll hold off for about a week to see if she still wants them when the inevitable backlash hits and people are sick of hearing about “Damn Daniel.”