Failed Proposal Viral Video - Bournville |

Failed Proposal Video – Cadbury Bournville

There was a lull in the viral videos marketing segment until 48 hours ago when the video of a ‘Poor Indian Guy’ went viral across social platforms. It might have been shared by at least thirty of the people in my friend list on Facebook in a matter of 4-5 hours on Thursday, August 23! So, what does Cadbury Bournville have to do with a failed and very publicly failed proposal? Read on.

The video shows an Indian guy proposing to a South-East Asian girl (no, I am not racist) with a three-piece band playing along. The setting is that of a shopping mall and the video is shot by a girl of Indian origin (going by the accent, not a racist :P). The guy blurts out a poem for , his lady love and proposes to her, on a bended knee, only to be hit on head by his almost-there-fiance with a ukulele. The guy falls down on the floor in front of the entire crowd that had gathered and that pretty much ends the show for him.

The Cadbury Bournville Factor

Cadbury’s marketing strategy for Bournville has been focused on product placement in the chocolate category, albeit, with a difference. Bournville, according to Cadbury, is not your regular chocolate. It is dark cocoa chocolate. As the category suggests, it is not sweet. And they have made sure they drive home this point through their earlier TVC.

Bournville makes the first appearance in the ‘failed proposal video’ when, during the proposal, a toy train blocks the view between the camera and the poor Indian guy. What’s the branding on the train? Cadbury Bournville. Not So Sweet.

The second appearance is pretty subtle and comes towards the end of the video when the poor Indian guy is hit by the ukulele and falls on the floor. The lady shooting the entire sequence says, “Are you okay? I really thought it was sweet.

Why it went viral?

There are terabytes that have been written about – How to make viral videos – and I am not going to add to the discourse. I am discounting the role of the content seeding machinery as well. The video is a blend of what catches attention of today’s consumers:

  • People love failed proposal videos. They’re funny. Don’t believe me? YouTube them and see the number of views on them.
  • It is shot as a candid video. I watched it with a couple of agency friends and the only consensus was that it looks stage-managed. We are agency folks, we kind of sense it. The rest might not, as is evident from the number of times it has been shared.
  • People love…love!
  • The prospect of watching a daring attempt at proposing at a public place is a tested hook.
  • People are bored around lunch at work and they will share anything remotely more interesting than their job-related duties. That encompasses pretty much everything. All you need is a hook and masala.

What gave them away?

It would have been a great ‘undercover’ branding video had these two instances not been there:

  • The girl hit the guy and stamped away, instantly. Almost all of the ‘genuine’ failed proposal videos have the girl replying in the negative to the guy, consoling him or giving him the look. The most common response, though, is from the cameraperson. The failed proposer is taken out of the viewing frame, a gasp is let out or the video ends abruptly. None of this happened here.
  • The guys just lies on the floor without doing much. He does pull himself together, but it looks too scripted.

Here’s the video. Your comments are welcome.


  • anom

    Nope. i agreed some of your points, but this is definitely real.

  • Jhom

    I disagree. You found some facts to back up your opinion, but the fact is, I’ve watched this video many many times, along with a lot of friends whom I shared it with, and none of us commented (or noticed) the placement ad on the train. If what you say is true, this would be one of the worst ads ever, as it was a 2 minute ad with the message completely lost in the video.

  • deep

    even i felt that the video was scripted on the first look itself.. might be some have not noticed the bournville train; but the voice of the girl at the end seems injected…it seems to be shot not in india but somewhere else and all voices have been injected and are not real…

  • unbelted

    Hey Deep. Yes, appears to be shot in Singapore or some other SE Asian country. Thanks for the comment.

  • unbelted

    Hey! Thanks for the comment. Agreement and disagreement is part of the game. I’d be curious to know the points that you agreed with me on.

  • unbelted

    Well, the length of the ad really does not have to do with brand recall. It could be a 5 seconder that might leave an imprint of the brand on you. Besides, it was not an ad, per se.

  • Jill Butz

    This was a fake. The girlfriend didn’t even look behind to notice what musicians had. Instead without looking, reached back to grab ukelele and smacked the side of his head. After only three months of dating, and also given the fact she looked like a sweet, shy Asian girl, she would have been so embarrassed by the display and embarrassed by his stupid stumbling around and lame humor. She would have walked away.

  • Tito

    It’s in Dubai

  • Puneet Oxford

    I agree dude, its just a viral marketing of the Cadbury Bournville brand.
    others who dont believe, Check:
    1. whats written on the train – NOT SO SWEET
    2. What the girl (cameraman) says at the end – I THOUGHT IT WAS REALLY SWEET (the way she says is also a bit trite )
    3. The sound that the violin makes while hitting his head & on the floor. definitively presence of some cushion/foam/etc.
    4. jingles when the train passes

    It was a well enacted play. I dont think the train would have even run on this route if the officials were aware of this wedding proposal.
    And last but not the least they want us to know, its an Cabdury Bournville ad.

  • Puneet Oxford

    Call it scripted dude.

  • unbelted

    Really? Must visit! :)

  • unbelted

    Hey Puneet! Thanks for the comment.
    I agree with you except for the point on the mall officials. There always is one mall attendant who goes slack :)

  • Shrenik Gandhi

    The video is nicely made. But what is the use of a brand spending monies when the brand is not at all visible.

    How much of a positive impact it will be having on a brand like Bournville?

    What would be the recall?

    Nice take, but I believe it is a viral video which resulted in zero ROI to Bournville.

    Looks like it was ‘not so sweet’ for the brand manager who approved it.

    And btw, this has been shot in Mumbai- R City mall.

  • unbelted

    Hey Shrenik, thanks for the comment. True, that the brand recall was not in-the-face as a Coke or Red Bull would have for an activation like this but on the other hand, I love the subtle branding that is there in the video.

    There are two kinds of viral videos that we usually come across – brazen display of branding and subtle. This one pretty much does the job.

    I guess the brand manager was looking at virality rather than generating sales through this one. Look at the buzz that has been generated around this. I hope they were looking for it and hit the sweet spot.

    Mumbai R Mall, I’ll take your word. Someone had mentioned this to be Dubai. Major branding opportunity out here for malls on account of differentiation, right?

  • Karthik Srinivasan

    Mild ‘duh’ moment on your post, honestly :)

    1. As you say, there are 2 kinds of virals – one, bloopers-style, real life stuff, with no brand connection. Two, brand-led. For the latter, the more subtle the brand positions itself – without holding a banner in the backdrop, the more natural it is and less it looks like an advertisement. The content going viral for content’s sake is the key; the brand is incidental, but visible in some subtle form. But, since the brand is spending money, it can’t be too subtle that people miss the branding altogether. This is a fine balance.

    2. The ‘gave them away’ partis your sleuthing work. I’m sure different people will find/miss parts of it, but the point is those clues are left there for a purpose. And they are ‘clues’ to the brand connect, again, on purpose. They exist to ensure that the brand doesn’t come across as too obvious. That you can argue that the train is too obvious is a different topic – I know at least 10 people who completely missed the branding on the train.

    3. The main point of the video was to
    a – let people enjoy a life-of-life’ish video
    b – engage them enough to see it till the end
    c – wonder if it’s for real or if it’s staged
    d – share and discuss (c) with friends

    From that pov, I guess the video worked.

  • unbelted

    Hey Karthik, how have you been? :)
    I have also come across many people who did not notice the brand the first time they watched the video. A fine balance, indeed.