Blog Post

The Megawoosh Waterslide Viral: How It Was Really Done

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 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.

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

  1. Anonymous

    The biggest red flag for me from this video, is that landing in a 5 foot pool of water at that speed would severely injure, if not kill you.

    Ask yourself why even a 3ft tall diving board is required by law to be above a minimum of 12ft of water.

  2. Memmel Berkensternichza

    believe it or not the shit is real, i was the camera man filming this. I was there for everything that took place, it took 3 weeks to put this together. This video your seeing of a man sliding down a giant water slide is real, It was put together by engineering college students that attend G-Euro CS Academy. believe what you about all this microsoft bullshit it has nothing to do with any type of microsoft windows what ever you think it is lol your all idiots. Check out other videos these same students did at redtube.com

  3. I watched the vid over and over. Amazed like everyone else but concluded it had to be fake for the simple reason the guy would have to be a freaking nut to put his life on the line for a stunt like that.

  4. After all these comments, has no one else noticed that he began his trip head first but left the ramp feet first? That’s all one needs to know to see it’s fake.

    However, aside from that, it’s a wonderfully entertaining, conversation piece of work. It really startles the first time viewer. I have no idea exactly how MS tied this to the video in Germany because I haven’t seen the actual ad. In the US, I’ve only seen the completed video. Speculating on how MS tied this to Project is pointless until we see the final ad. Who knows? Maybe they plan to show how Project assisted them in making it happen. Either way, at least one guy above learned of Project’s existence because of this entire effort. I say good work in the advertising dept until some discounting facts come to light.

    And to those incessently knocking MS for their products. Let’s hear your nomination for a one-size-fits-all, works on most systems, does most everything, is compatible with most everything software application that has so many features. (Don’t even go towards the ‘ixes. I’ve tried many and their doc compatibility sucks for anything advanced.)

  5. I love all the folks that say MS and a plethora of other companies out there are going down in flames or similar claims. I worked for an ecommerce that we started in 1999 and even though people are still to this day saying it will fail or it will go under, most of us who started the company have made enough to retire very young. But most of us keep working because we are charged up…

    Today it is used globally! Millions of times everyday, people use it or log in to it or get a message from it or take advantage of it.. Every quarter generates profit and growth potential.

    Even if it did go under as I type this, the company is publicly traded today, wildly successful and is having a great run.

    One engineer did in fact move to South America and opened one of the nicest bars in a famous city down there and is a big success in that too.. And having a BLAST!!! Nicely done Tom!!

    I guess there are some folks out there that would sit around and piss and moan and talk down the accomplishments of others and there are those who ignore it and go forth and do it… I don’t understand the piss and moan types.

    Is MS the greatest software? No far from it. Does it have issue? Certainly all consumer products made to operate across a wide variety of uses has issues. It is not an easy feat.

    The simple fact is MS made it possible for users from heavy duty power users through OMG I have no idea WTF I am doing users to create docs, expand their view of the world, communicate, design, fabricate…

    To you who bash MS whenever you have a chance… What have YOU done today?

    And to all you people, who constantly claim something is failing or will fail even when the evidence is to the contrary in the extreme to you naysayers and pissers and moaners. I say Cheers!! I hope you enjoy yourselves because I know that we are!!! Success is grand.

    John

  6. it took place on a grassy knoll. there were multiple sliders. I saw the puff of smoke between the two locations of lift-off and landing. I know it’s a conspiracy to change history and move time in a side ways motion and will cause my computer to puke. I just knows it.

    • “it took place on a grassy knoll. there were multiple sliders. I saw the puff of smoke between the two locations of lift-off and landing. I know it’s a conspiracy to change history and move time in a side ways motion and will cause my computer to puke. I just knows it.”

      This comment was absolutely hysterical. Nearly as good as the fake slide. Great job!

  7. Big give away is that if you were going to do this you would not have the edge of a wooden plinth in the landing zone.

    Other than that, i wish Microsoft would spend some effort making project a little better than a spreadsheet with gantt chart!

    Nice editing, but can’t most 12 year olds do that now with a digital camera and an iphone

  8. Are you for real? I was just calling up my enginer friends to get this set up in my home town of West Virginia. Screw it! Were going for the big Slide. I will get back with all of you and keep you posted.

  9. plokoon

    Was an amazing video nonetheless! It really demonstrates that in the course of one week a viral video spreads to those that can debunk it, and post info for all to see.

  10. It’s funny to read the comments about the advertising, etc. The ULTIMATE viral ad was the dissassembled Honda rube goldberg ‘contraption’ (google Honda “Cog”) that kept moving until you got to the final product–the car. I’m just a dirt lawyer in GA, but to me, that is what makes the ad amazing-it’s something cool AND shows the ultimate product. While this clip created the buzz (and it is getting forwarded like mad) I guarantee that only a few (like us obviously :) will care enough to research true/false. Therefore, very few people will know that there is ANY connection to MS Office, etc. (I didn’t, until now). So I have to agree that this (as a marketing tool branded to/with Microsoft) is a big FAIL. As for an amazing viral video? Huge success. my 2 cents…

  11. Demolishun

    If they wanted to really impress people let the fakeness run for a while. Then come out with a campaign showing how they planned the stunt: resources, people, equipment, dollars, permits, editing, etc all in Microsoft Office Project.

    At that point people will see how complex a ruse like this is and see how to plan it in MS Office Project. Of course that would take some real thought and planning and would need something like Primavera…

  12. Joe Morin

    It’s a pretty obvious fake, but a cool one. I’m going to assign it as a problem for my high school physics students. Determine if it’s real or fake, and use what you’ve learned in physics to support/prove your conclusion.

    Joe

    Ps. It would have been a much better ad if Microsoft could put it together using only Microsoft Office software.