We all knew something was up when we heard Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit song, “Call Me Maybe,” blasting out of publisher David Woronoff’s office a few weeks ago. Over and over it played.
Turns out, David had just discovered the U.S. Olympic Swim Team’s spoof of Jepsen’s song on YouTube, and he had one of his “big ideas”: What if The Pilot did its own video?
This catchy song of the summer has gone viral thanks to various celebrities and athletes featuring or spoofing the Canadian pop star’s song. Their videos have millions of views, showing the strength and influence of social media and YouTube in our culture today.
So David pitched the video idea to us: How about we do our own?
We hit the ground running. First, we had to do some research. Since pop star Justin Bieber and his pals posted the original spoof video on YouTube in February, the fad has caught on with the Harvard baseball team, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “Sesame Street,” President Obama and even that cute big-eared short-legged corgi (barking to the tune).
Hours into our “research,” we began noticing allusions to other versions of the video. Some videos were even made directly in response to particular videos, such as the Southern Methodist University’s women’s rowing team’s upside-down leg choreography in response to the Harvard baseball team’s upper-body choreography in a van.
Realizing the scale of this viral video epidemic, we had a lot to figure out. We wanted The Pilot version to be awesome — something comparable with Cookie Monster’s “Share It Maybe” take, but something that also shows the community who we are at The Pilot — and our willingness to have fun and not take ourselves too seriously.
The storyline had to link more than 70 employees from The Pilot’s entities, including the newspaper, The Country Bookshop, PineStraw magazine, O.Henry magazine in Greensboro and the Moore and Lee County telephone directories, into a cohesive and engaging three-minute video.
Andrew Soboeiro, one of the newsroom’s summer interns, helped us storyboard the project. The plotline would be simple, but have its little tricks here and there. There’s so much crammed into the three minutes, it might take a few views to find Waldo and to catch all the allusions to other “Call Me Maybe” videos.
In the finale, Andrew choreographed the outdoor group scene with moves borrowed from the Harvard baseball team’s video. Jepsen’s original music video can be spotted on different newspaper staffers’ computer screens, the Moore County Telephone Directory scene was inspired from Jimmy Fallon’s instrumental version, and so on.
Besides permanently embedding the song into our brains, we learned a lot about ourselves as a company. The video gives you a view of how many people are actually involved behind the scenes, but even we learned a bit in the making. We didn’t know the faces, both young and old, that fill the pressroom on early mornings and weekends to make sure the paper gets delivered. Most of our co-workers had no idea what O.Henry magazine’s office looks like in Greensboro, the two-story house Jim Dodson drives by in “The Pearl,” the pirate-worthy nickname he’s given his station wagon. And who knew Clay Culberson, the dancing graphic designer, could be our ringer in a dance-off?
From interpretive dance to choreographed bits, you know you’re in a unique place of employment when folks are willing to stop working to be silly for however long it takes to get the right shot.
Fate was also on our side during the making of this video. After storyboarding a part for a skateboarder, and not knowing one, we serendipitously stumbled upon an attractive young man one evening who tells us “Call Me Maybe” was the song stuck in his head while skateboarding that night. No casting call needed! He got the part!
We spent a week shooting in between our real jobs, followed by a week of editing, which was equally fun as we relived some of the best parts of shooting.
This past Wednesday, The Pilot unveiled the video to the staff — complete with popcorn and candy — before posting it on YouTube. During a screening in the newsroom, now dubbed the Sam Ragan Memorial Newsroom Theater, it was funny for us to see what parts warranted the most laughter. Consensus highlights: reporter John Chappell singing perfectly on key, David Woronoff busting a move, ad reps coming out of the woodwork. Now everyone in the office has their favorite parts picked out, and you can hear the constant chitter-chatter about the video in nearly every part of the building.
As of Friday, the video already has more than 3,400 views on YouTube, and it has been shared all over Facebook. We’ve even gotten some shout-outs from journalism professionals, including Susan King, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC Chapel Hill, our alma mater.
“I just tweeted it,” she wrote in an email to David. “It’s fabulous. I hope it goes viral. It’s not only great for business, it looks like your entire staff got a morale boost.”
Life has since returned to normal for us, but we still notice an extra bounce in everyone’s step. It seems as though everyone is still walking in beat and talking in rhymes.
And right when the song begins to fade out of our minds, it becomes louder than our thoughts as it reverberates off the walls in David’s office. Not much has changed.
To view the video, click here.
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