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Summary:

One of the hottest viral videos of the last couple of days shows a man in a neoprene suit on a DIY waterslide, flying 115 feet and then landing safely in a kiddie pool. It’s accumulated more than 1.4 million views since it got uploaded to […]

One of the hottest viral videos of the last couple of days shows a man in a neoprene suit on a DIY waterslide, flying 115 feet and then landing safely in a kiddie pool. It’s accumulated more than 1.4 million views since it got uploaded to YouTube last week, and reactions were all over the place, ranging from dropped jaws to sheer amazement to a more cynical, “Nah, this can’t be real.”

And, after a bit of investigating, we’ve verified that it indeed wasn’t. The video was a carefully crafted viral ad for Microsoft’s Office suite Project 2007, and the production of the clip involved, among other things, a stuntman, a lot of editing, and a long piece of rope. Read on for more details about the campaign as well as an exclusive snippet of unedited video from the waterslide shoot.

Here’s the back story of the waterslide video in a nutshell —  or at least, what we were supposed to believe: German engineer Bruno Kammerl came up with a special type of neoprene material dubbed Softslide that his web site describes as “almost frictionless.” Kammerl’s goal was to build the longest and most exciting waterslide in the world. He started off with some tests, published videos about it on YouTube, and publicly searched for investors. Then an “influential sponsor” came along and made it possible to test the slide in the German Alps, which led to the video we’ve all seen.

Of course, that’s all bogus. Kammerl’s web site was registered in May by an employee of the German subsidiary of marketing giant MRM Worldwide. Chatter about this connection popped up online only a few days after the waterslide video started to become popular, and MRM Worldwide quickly decided to lift the curtain. Microsoft’s logo was added to Kammerl’s Megawoosh.com web site late last week, and MRM Germany CEO Alexander Ewig finally fessed up to his company’s involvement in a press release emailed to us today, saying: “We developed Megaswoosh as a viral campaign for Microsoft Germany.”

“This revelation was supposed to come a little later,” I was told by Maik Koenigs, whose Hamburg-based viral marketing agency Elbkind was hired by MRM to seed the video onto more than 60 sites. However, bloggers were too quick to make the connection, so there had to be a change of plans. “Viral communication is a dynamic process,” he explained, adding that the outcome was still beyond everyone’s expectations. The campaign was just meant to be for a German audience, but has gotten Twitter, blog and mainstream media responses from all over the world.

So how was the video really done? As some bloggers guessed, it’s a case of creative compositing, meaning that the clip we get to see is based on multiple elements that were combined together to create a final video. A stuntman slides down the slide, secured by a rope. Then there’s a body flying through the air, which is animated. And finally, the big splash. “He actually jumped from a wooden ramp into the pool,” explained Koenigs. Of course, you don’t get to see any of this in the final clip, thanks to careful editing that makes it look like a single take.

Here’s a short, unedited clip that shows how the stuntman filling in for Kammerl is sliding down part of the slide for a first segment of the final video:

So yeah, all you doubters are right: It’s fake. But it’s a pretty elaborate deception, and it certainly looks real enough for a willing suspension of disbelief. Of course, one can debate whether this will really help to sell Microsoft Office, but it’s undoubtedly been a successful viral video.

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  1. Oh. Thank you for the story.
    Never knew it was meant for MS-Office.
    I wanted to believe the video was real….

    1. The Wahii WaterSlide is a “real” giant backyard waterslide that is awesome. Check out the Wahii Waterslide video on youtube.

      1. 75ft Wahii WaterSlide is $149.

      2. So YOU are the virus!

    2. HOW MICROSOFT OF THEM…

    3. No matter how many viral videos are made they will not make up for Microsoft’s weakening position in all of their major product lines. Nor will it erase their over sized ego of their product capabilities. From their OS’s, including Win 7, Bing, and the Office programs, their performance, usability, and internet-ness is sorely lacking in vision and execution. There is no overall MS vision especially in usability for the average user.

      1. true, but “there’s no such thing as bad press”… MS is not a corp to be underestimated.

      2. Mac user.!!!!!! you suck. go eat an apple

    4. I do believe, I do believe I Do I Do I Do. The Christians would have had a field day with computer generated images…Not to mention the Wizard of Oz

  2. ya it was a good viral video but it did nothing for Microsoft and absolutely nothing for Office.

    The only thing it did do was put the marketing company MRM Worldwide back into the news. They will benefit greatly from the video. And they got a phat payday $$$.

    To me this video is a big fat viral fail.

    I need someone at Microsoft or MRM Worldwide to explain how they thought this viral video of a guy in a neoprene suit on a DIY waterslide that ends with a kiddie pool was going to increase business for the Office suite….

    1. You are absolutely wrong. The goal of the video wasn’t “buy office”, it was brand awareness and association with something cool. The very fact that you’re talking about Microsoft and Office in your post means the campaign was 100% successful.

      1. Microsoft do not need brand awareness, the idea that there are people that are not aware of Microsoft in the west is ridiculous. They can only have that awareness harmed by things like this where they are seen to associate with fakes. There is no possibility of success and only a possibility of failure. A stupid move.

      2. This is actually a fantastic way to market and anybody who believes otherwise doesn’t understand marketing.
        It’s not about getting somebody to buy one product.
        It’s not about convincing anyone that MS is good.
        It is amazing and controversial at the same time and lots of people are sharing it and talking about it and that creates buzz.
        Good or bad publicity is always good…unless you’re Enron of course…

    2. RE: “I need someone at Microsoft or MRM Worldwide to explain how they thought this viral video of a guy in a neoprene suit on a DIY waterslide that ends with a kiddie pool was going to increase business for the Office suite….”

      Gee, I don’t know. Given that you recalled “Microsoft” and “Office Suite” I’d say you’re proof positive that the advertising retention rate is fairly successful.

    3. The idea was to promote MS PROJECT, not MS OFFICE. The idea being that it took a lot of PLANNING to make something like this happen flawlessly. I think it was a GREAT idea!

      1. Very true. I work in Advertising and this is genius. Very subtle but genius.

  3. The Waterslide Was Fake!?!?! « Casual Gossip Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    [...] manufactured by Microsoft and was somehow supposed to promote Microsoft Office Suite. Here is the article that explains in more detail and below is a video that shows part of how it was faked. Dearest [...]

  4. What the hell is wrong with companies? Does this make anyone want to buy Microsoft Office? The only thing it makes me want to buy is a slip and slide, and unless Microsoft bought shares in that company, this was a waste of a lot of money.

    But, it was really cool, so they’ve got that.

    http://www.twitter.com/devinkunysz
    http://www.wordpress.com/whowhatwherewheny

  5. B.Moore, what they were trying to get at is that attemping a complex stunt like that would require lots of PLANNING, which is what MS Project helps with.

  6. @scott
    Project is not part of Office. It is sold separately.

    Why do you sound like a Microsoft marketing person?

    1. ROFL – he doesn’t… he sounds like someone straining to make a connection that doesn’t exist.

  7. This was on the NZ news tonight – looks bloody real!

    1. It made the NZ evening news because NZTV executives are lazy, were short of real news stories and have no talent.

  8. @mark your probably right and it does not come in the suite.

    I use Office07 at work because I have too… Not to happy about that at all but thats another story.

    Anyways I have never heard of Project until your post. That pretty bad considering i have been using the past 3 versions of office suites.

    I think microsoft has bigger problems with promoting that application than what a viral video can do to help solve. They need to redo the marketing plan for that app if they want it to succeed. Microsoft couldn’t even pay me to use that app.

  9. The latest viral video « Something should go here, maybe later. Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    [...] How it was made here. [...]

  10. Hah, I knew it couldn’t be real. The flight, if I may call it that, was too long, and I doubt that anyone can fly that high and that long and survive a landing in a kiddie pool.

    Wonder if Mythbusters can do a followup on this. That would be awesome.

    1. Go to the mythbusters website and send in a request for it, everyone else who reads this should do the same, the more that request this, the better chance there is for them to do it. Go to http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/mythbusters/mythbusters.html and click on the “Submit a Myth” link on the far right side of the yellow bar. I am doing right after this comment, because I would like to see it too. be sure to include a link to this story and the youtube vid!

      1. update, here is a link to post, there is a thread already started. http://community.discovery.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/5261919888/m/52419393201

      2. Awww!!! It would be totally awesome to see any one of the cast from mythbusters play with this one. Microsoft should sponsor that episode!

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