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The Megawoosh Waterslide Viral: How It Was Really Done

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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 (s MSFT) 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 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.

148 Responses to “The Megawoosh Waterslide Viral: How It Was Really Done”

  1. TGAP Dad

    I would rather be staked to the ground over a fire ant colony, while crows plucked out my eyes, than use a Micro$oft product. The fact that Microsuck chose to hide their identity with this ad, implies that I am not alone.

  2. this is an awesome example of how After Effects can be put into an awesome and creative use. I saw some awesome stuff like this being done for a snowboarding trick. Who cares what this has to do with anything, props to the team that put the video together and did the editing et al.

  3. Sammy'Oh

    It clearly states that this spot was created in Germany and to stay in that country, nonetheless. What wasn’t anticipated, though, is the fact that the world wide web has no boundaries and it might ricochet around.

  4. This article does not clearly make the case that it’s fake. No one is quoted saying it was faked. Perhaps MSFT signed on as sponsor, w/ the PR firm, fine. The rest of the story is pure speculation on the stunt was “faked.” I’m not sure if it’s real or fake – I lean toward real – but this article does not make a clear, convincing case.

  5. Now that it has been exposed as a corporate backed advertising, Microsoft had better protect themselves by slapping a “Caution: Do not try this at home.” label on the video.

    I can picture bored suburban teens trying to replicate the stunt just to prove that it can be done and injuring themselves then the parents suing Microsoft.

    In any case, did it really build brand awareness for Microsoft, probably just from the “buzz” of who paid to create it. Though it may be interesting to know whether the video was edited using a Microsoft program or something running on a Mac.


    • Of course it worked. Look at the number of views it has had. Then check out all the discussion boards such as this. It worked very well for all parties concerned. The objective of any advertising campaign is to gain attention.
      Well done I say. However, I agree a note Not to try this at home would be appropriate. Not for Microsoft’s sake. But for the sake of the parents who are going to have to spend hours in a hospital waiting room and for the kids who will spend the rest of their lives as Disabled.

  6. Nicholas San Taclaus

    the very fact that Microsoft (see I’ve done it too now) have been mentioned several times on this page and in goodness knows how many other pages on the net means this stunt was a massive success for them. Advertising is about product placement and making sure the company’s name is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. As much as we all apparently hate Microsoft they’re an incredibly successful company so they’re clearly doing something right!!!

    • The mention of MicroSoft ten times in two minutes does not promote “brand awareness”. You’d have to be living under a rock not to be aware of what MicroSoft means. It was a very cool viral video, but scotch-taping the MicroSoft brand thing at the end only serves to make MicroSoft look deceptive. Last year’s Bill Gates/Jerry Seinfeld commercials were also meant to create brand awareness but were an Epic Fail.

      • Speaking of “living under a rock” – is that where you live? Because you’re either failing at being ironic or making fun of Microsoft, or you were too dumb to realize that you misspelled the company’s name four times by capitalizing the “s”.

  7. David Brown

    send the real guy down the slope and stop him with a rope partway down. Next send a dummy down the slide over and over until it lands in the pool.. (might take all day to get the dummy in the pool), then put the guy in the pool and have him jump to his feet. Splice the three clips together. Perhaps it was an add for the video editor in Microsoft rather than “office”. hmmm.

  8. Agent J

    It was still an awesome video nonetheless. We’ll never really know if it was a fake stunt or a real one until an official statement is made- and Lord knows if we’ll ever get that.

  9. I’m not saying it is fake or not fake. But I’m certain that this article doesn’t give proof of anything.

    The video with the man on a rope could easily be a test run, you can tell by the man’s position at the start that it is NOT the same starting clip as used in the final version.

    And what difference does it make who or when it on what websites? That doesn’t add any evidence to it’s authenticity what-so-ever.

    This article proves NOTHING.

    • The article wasn’t supposed to “prove” anything. Everybody already knew it was fake, this article was just explaining how it was done.

      I’m saying with 100% certainty that it’s not humanly possible to land in a kiddie pool and surive after flying that high.

      I’m also 100% sure that Apple could top that animation. I’m stuck with Windows because it’s cheaper.

      And it wasn’t a great advertising tactic because 90% of the people who have seen this video are talking about the video, not Microsoft, or their ability to come close to Apple’s graphics abilities. And people who know what the video is made for may be talking about Office, but this video- in no way- makes me want to buy any of their products. It’s silly.

      • “I’m also 100% sure that Apple could top that animation. I’m stuck with Windows because it’s cheaper.”

        Apple could top that animation? with what? The software used is multi platform, guessing Nuke or Shake for composting… and Maya for modelling and animation. Both of which run equally as good windows and osx, but above all on linux as its fully customizable and perfect for building a procedural pipeline between each piece of software for a job like this.

        if apple did a viral campaign for iwork, which is there version of office, you bet it’ll be clean and rounded at the edges, which is the problem with apple, looks aren’t everything. this works well, like the gorilla did for cadburys.

  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.

  11. @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.

  12. 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….

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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…

    • Doh Doh Head

      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.

    • Laurent

      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!