One of the hot viral videos this month is Rahat Hossain’s Drive Thru Invisible Driver Prank. Let’s take a look and see how it does on the four rules from The Viral Video Manifesto.
Rule One: Be True
Rahat does a really good job here. His intro sets things up perfectly. He’s out in a real parking lot somewhere, not a set, not a studio – it’s REAL. Excellent!
Next, he shows you exactly how the prank works. He’s got the fake seat right there and shows us everything. This complete transparency really draws us in. He’s going to prank people, but from the start, we can tell that he’s authentic and he’s being really honest with us.
Then there’s the fake seat – it’s not very good! It’s a cardboard box covered with cloth and it looks like… a cardboard box covered with cloth. But it’s good enough, and that’s all you need, and he knows it.
In fact, the lack of polish in the fake seat is great. It’s one of the many things that our brain takes in that tells us – accurately – that what we’re seeing is real.
For the rest of the video, Rahat just shows us what Alan Funt, the creator of Candid Camera (and the guy who essentially invented this kind of entertainment back in the 1940’s), called “people in the act of being themselves.”
It’s just clip after clip of real people have real reactions to real events. And if the reactions are good, that’s money. And here, they’re great. High marks for this video on Be True.
Rule Two: Don’t Waste My Time.
Again, really good. It’s nothing but set up and punch lines. The rule for sideshow is: give us just enough explanation in the beginning so we understand what’s going on and then get to it. Here, Rahat explains exactly what’s going to happen, then he gets down to business immediately.
A word about the cuts here from one drive-thru reaction to the next: every cut, every edit, makes your video less true. Each cut removes the viewer a little bit from what it was like to actually be there when it all happened.
But cuts like Rahat uses, and like those we sometimes use in our videos, save time. And that’s all they do. And that’s good. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice a little bit on Rule 1: Be True (where the ideal shot is a single, unedited one), in order to make sure you don’t run afoul of Rule 2: Don’t Waste My Time. That’s what Rahat does here, and it works.
Rule Three: Be Unforgettable.
This is usually the toughest and the most important of the four rules. Now, we’ve seen magicians pretending to be invisible before, and in fact, we’ve even seen a version of this stunt before, in a photo that went viral a while ago.
But still, this video has a memorable hook – an invisible driver prank is not a stunt most people have seen before. And, in particular, what the video has that the photo doesn’t is the amazing reactions of the people working at the drive-thrus. That’s what really elevates this to unforgettable.
For them, it’s an unforgettable moment, and we get to see it. One woman says, “Am I tripping?!” It’s priceless. One after another, we see other people experience unforgettable moments, and that’s compelling. That’s where Invisible Drive Thru hits it out of the park, which brings us right into Rule Four:
Rule Four: Ultimately, It’s All About Humanity.
After the brief set up so that we understand what we’re seeing, it’s all about those great reactions: fun, funny, likeable human reactions, one after the other, until we’re almost overwhelmed. Like the best Candid Camera videos, it’s full of active, positive emotion. That’s contagious.
So, Invisible Drive Thru does really well on all four rules. It shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s had over 30 million views in just a couple of weeks.