9th March 2014 Mario Gheghici

Madonna’s “Like a prayer” – A manual to create viral videos

Photo: Wikipedia

A quarter of century ago, Madonna was writing the rules of viral videos. “Like a prayer” has all the ingredients any marketer would tell you a viral video should have: Emotion, Intrigue, Simplicity.

Imagine if  YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Google were there 25 years ago.

I can imagine “Like a prayer” as one of the most watched videos, with over one billion views in just a few weeks. Not because everyone would like the video.  On the contrary, probably the video would have thousands of dislikes (also thousands of likes). How many decent commentaries, and how many stupid ones would roll on YouTube for this video?.. Also, Pepsi’s commercial using this song would be featured in various media websited like Mashable, and the article would be shared and shared and shared…

Parodies, goats, cats, dogs singing or dancing “Like a prayer”… YouTube would have been be full of them.


Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

On Twitter, #likeaprayer would be trending, and a huge argument would have been created between those who like the video and those who disagree with the scenes/idea. You would see people blaming Pepsi, for using the song in a commercial. Just wondering if in our days the Pope would tweet against this video…

On Facebook, a community would rise, supporting the video, and the FB page would have had more than one million likes. Also, many other pages and profiles “Like a Prayer” or “Black saint” would have been created. All trying to get engagement from people, to get more likes.

Instagram, Vine, Cinemagram, [intlink id=”1828″ type=”post”]Pinterest[/intlink] would have also echoes of the song. On Whisper people would have told freely their opinion about the video.


Now, why “Like a prayer” is one of the videos that would be called a viral video?

First of all: Controversy

According to Wikipedia: “The clip depicts Catholic symbols such as stigmata, Ku Klux Klan-style cross burning, and a dream about kissing a black saint. After its release, the Vatican condemned the video, while family and religious groups protested its broadcast.”

Everyone is looking now for controversy. Look how Miley Cyrus came back on stage through controversy.

Second: A small story and a big story: The small story is about forbidden love, and the big story is about racism, bigotry. About religion and sex – and here we find the controversy again, cause even in our days the association between these two words is controversial.

*Three are the key people: Madonna (of course), Mary Lambert (the director), and Leon Robinson (the saint). It is amazing how two women have two total different visions about this video. Madonna wanted a video highlighting the religion & Mary Lambert wanted the focus of the video to be on sexuality; and the two concepts mixed so good together.

And finally, same ingredients, but another form: controversial story – an innocent person was arrested for murder, when he actually wanted to help the victim –  the injustice that makes the engagement; makes people angry, shouting on Facebook or Twitter.


But the video was released 25 years ago… and I think we still can find many examples like this one – how easy would be to create a [intlink id=”1903″ type=”post”]viral video[/intlink] if we would focus on creating quality stories instead of … creating viral videos.

About the Author

Mario Gheghici Mario Gheghici has over 15 years' experience in media and advertising. Throughout his career he has been a journalist, a PR expert, advertising guru, and now he is widely known as a social media, online marketing, web development and SEO consultant. | Follow @mariusdigital | Follow on Google+ | Connect on LinkedIn |

Comment (1)

  1. Awesome! I never would have imagine this one. Just imagine social media’s power to make controversies, (people ranting over twitter about it, pictures of madonna in pinterest, clips of the video on youtube, crowded comments in google plus communities and facebook and all the hastags) plus wiki’s own way of publicity exposing the whereabout of the video. That’s a lot of noise! If we could make an inspiration such as this, marketing will definite go as easy as counting one-two-three. Now this gives me the hype on how I strategize my skills in online marketing. Thanks for this! =D

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