It seems like every company is striving to make a viral video to advertise their brand, but recently one shoe company went viral without even trying. In the past few weeks, the ‘Damn Daniel’ video took over the web. This video, which follows teenager Daniel Lara wearing various shoes, has racked up hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets on Twitter. It spawned additional memes, remixes, blog posts, and even earned Daniel and his friend Josh a visit to Ellen. The most notable line in the video? “Damn Daniel – back at it again with the white Vans!”

Vans really lucked out, because this video is basically unintentional content marketing for them!


The (Snapchat) Story Behind The Video

As Daniel and Josh explain on Ellen, the video started as something Josh used to send friends on Snapchat. After a few days, his friends started telling him how much they liked the Damn Daniel Snapchat stories, so they decided to keep making them every day. Eventually, Josh compiled the videos into one and sent out that fateful tweet.

There’s really not telling why this video took off like it did. Daniel and Josh certainly seemed to have no idea. So maybe Vans won’t be hiring them as their new content specialists…but Vans can certainly enjoy the free publicity, and capitalize on it!

Daniel and Josh make an Ellen Appearance

The two teens appeared on Ellen to talk a bit more about the bizarre video. As anyone who watches Ellen knows, if you are on the show Ellen is likely going to give you a generous gift at the end of your interview. Joshua, the camera man behind the viral video, got a surfboard. And of course, Daniel got a lifetime supply of Vans… courtesy of Vans itself. It was a smart move on Vans, as this helped the story gain even more buzz.

Back it Again with the Feel Good News Story

Daniel decided to use his unexpected internet celebrity for good. He donated the shoes to patients at the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital in Southern California. Vans also gave him goodie bags filled with hats and stickers that Daniel was able to distribute to patients. Daniel isn’t the only one who looks charitable in this deal; Vans also had a hand in this act of kindness.

Remember Alex From Target?

Sometimes the best publicity comes out of unexpected places. A product might jump in popularity after a celebrity endorse, viral Buzzfeed article, or glorious online reviews. Part of the fun of these sorts of stories watching naturally arise. None of us know when the next big meme is coming, or what it will be. Memes just sort of happen. Of course, sometimes companies can try to create their own meme. That’s what happen with Alex From Target, a cute boy working at Target who gained internet fame a few years ago. He was even on Ellen too. A content company called Breakr later revealed Alex (and the Tumblr posts about him) were just plants. Target wasn’t involved with the marketing plot, Breakr was just testing “how powerful the fangirl demographic was by taking an unknown good-looking kid and Target employee from Texas to overnight viral internet sensation.” The fangirl demographic certainly took to the Damn Daniel meme as well.

Was Damn Daniel an organic meme that just happened to advertise Vans? Or will we find out that this was an elaborate marketing scheme all along? Even if this video was purely a stroke of luck for Vans, maybe other brands should think about trying to capture that fangirl demographic.

Want some help creating the next big viral success? Consider using Media Shower…we have a lifetime supply of success stories.