“If the idea behind the script is not catchy and contagious enough, the campaign is likely to be a failure,” Gil Lavie, founder and CEO of Keta Keta.Viral videos are distributed through the Internet by email, messaging, blogs and media sharing websites. Not to worry – they won’t cripple the computer – ‘viral’ just describes their prolific propagation as users pass the trendy clips to their friends. A vital feature is humor, combined with youth and vitality, and often containing sexual content and language on which a ‘mature content’ warning could certainly be slapped.

Israeli producer Keta Keta has put out over 100 viral video clips in the last five years, making a big impact worldwide. This global success should not just be credited to savvy management, but testifies to the commercial power of live images and hard-hitting messages distributed by word of mouse (WOM).

“Our political campaigns such asMake Love, Not Terror and The Holy Land are phenomena on the Internet, each with tens of millions of viewers from over 150 countries,” Gil Lavie, founder and joint CEO, tells ISRAEL21c.

Keta Keta now ranks among the foremost five or six agencies in the world in company with UK giants: The Viral Factory, DMC, and Maverick Media and a couple of US competitors.

Lavie, with an MBA from California, has a high-tech background and was formerly VP of marketing at IncrediMail. His partner Ran Barnea joined him six months ago after 10 years of experience in top American advertising agencies such as JWT. Keta Keta is a vertical operation that employs 10 people from the creative, production, IT, and marketing disciplines, plus some outsource help for shooting days.

Lavie claims his company is unique in offering a one-stop shop, doing “everything in-house from creative (ad) development to production, direction (two in-house directors), post-production as well as marketing.”

Successful viral advertising requires a creative concept, execution and seeding. Careful sifting is crucial. “If the idea behind the script is not catchy and contagious enough, the campaign is likely to be a failure, so we can’t miss here,” explains Lavie.

Standards are very high. “First we have to agree that the idea makes a good commercial. It must incorporate one or more memes, which are the basic building blocks of a viral clip.”

Richard Dawkins coined the term ‘meme’ in his book The Selfish Gene (1976), after discovering that memes or catchy ideas spread just like a viral epidemic.

To achieve its Internet marketing aims Keta Keta has active accounts in over 300 UGC (user-generated content) social network sites such as YouTube, Metacafe, and Dada.net. Its primary platform, which is proprietary, comprises tens of thousands of seeders or voluntary distributors of email with high SNP (social networking potential) in over 100 countries. It also uses seeding companies specializing in European, US and Asian markets.

Foremost among recent achievements include six ads that made the BBC’s “Commercial Breakdown,” a top TV program showcasing the world’s funniest commercials of the last two decades. Then there are pro bono videos like Letlive, championing the cause of animal rights, and an ingenious clip made for the Association of Civil Rights in Israel.

A prior innovation was QuickieTM – the world’s first Internet sitcom (2003) – that will hit local TV screens in June, since rights were recently purchased by Keshet, Israel’s largest broadcaster.

Keta Keta is currently planning a completely international format of three to five minute Webisodes that will take place in Israel, just as Seinfeld takes place in NYC. Management regards the Webisodes as its 60th Anniversary present to Israel.

Other firsts cited by Lavie are: “the first company in the industry to work under a success-based business model, the first to do campaigns for prescription drugs, and more.”

As for future projects: “We plan to keep pioneering and re-inventing ourselves thereby maintaining our leadership status, as this market continues to grow at burgeoning speed,” says Lavie.