A viral campaign is the marketing equivalent of winning the lottery ticket. A well executed viral campaign can spread on its own, leveraging the power of social media and word of mouth. Viral campaigns can dramatically increase brand awareness, improve sales, and catapult a hitherto unknown brand into public consciousness.
Here, we take a look at five of the best viral campaigns from 2010 and what marketers can learn from them:
1. Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”
No talk of viral campaigns would be complete without a mention of Old Spice’s groundbreaking “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign. As one of the first consumer product companies to crack the viral code, Old Spice (and Isaiah Mustafa, the eponymous ‘Old Spice Man’) benefitted greatly from the campaign.
While the original campaign ad with a barechested Isaiah Mustafa was liked well enough, what truly set the campaign apart (and set the wheels of virality) in motion were the short, funny video responses the Old Spice team created for celebrities, including social media heavyweights like Perez Hilton and Kevin Rose. Tweets from Rose, Hilton and Demi Moore, among others, soon grew into exponential traffic that landed the campaign into the annals of viral marketing history.
Takeaway: While quirkiness and humor were the two key ingredients of the campaign’s success, marketers must also learn how to target the right audience for maximum impact (in Old Spice’s case, it was tech mavens like Kevin Rose who set up the viral platform). A strong voice and easily identifiable image goes a long way as well.
2. Dollar Shave Club
The Old Spice Guy ad debuted at the biggest arena of them all: The Superbowl. Dollar Shave Club, on the other hand, had a much smaller budget to work with. The small startup based out of Santa Monica, USA was one of the viral stars of 2012, netting millions of views for its hilarious marketing video. The result? Millions of customers and a whopping $9.8 million in venture funding, all made possible by one simple video.
Takeaway: You may not have P&G’s marketing budget, but that shouldn’t stop you from being successful. Dollar Shave Club showed how a no name brand with a solid product and a hilarious, honest video ad could disrupt an entire industry and win millions of customers in the process. Men’s razor industry is broken and dominated by a couple of companies. Dollar Shave Club knew it and exploited the fact fully in its ad. Throw in some humor, a price point of $1, and you can almost guarantee success.
3. Invisible Children – Kony 2012
Sometimes, instead of glitz, glamour and humour, all you need is a fistfull of honesty and a good cause to rally an audience. The Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign had that in plenty, which eventually netted them close to 97 million views on YouTube. The Stop Kony movement has an admirable cause: to bring the world’s attention to the genocide by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. With its heartfelt campaign, it shifted the world’s focus on the region, effecting a real change in the process.
Takeaway: Sometimes, a real message is all it takes to break down the walls of virality. Strip away the razzmatazz and bare your soul to your audience. The results, as Kony 2012 demonstrates, may very well surprise you.
4. TNT’s “Your Daily Dose of Drama”
“Push to Add Drama” – a seemingly innocuous button placed in the middle of a busy square in Belgium became the focus of a successful ad campaign by TNT. As hidden cameras captured bystanders walking up to and pressing the button, paramedics, policemen, and mafia criminals swarmed out, getting into fights, shooting guns and creating, well, ‘drama’. The reaction of the bystanders – surprise, shock, then joy – matched the TV channel’s message perfectly: “Your Daily Dose of Drama”.
Takeaway: Capturing the reaction of everyday folks (even if they are actors and the footage staged) can not only be a great validation of your product, but lure the audience into the ad experience. Viewers who watched the bystanders giggle with delight couldn’t help but stifle a smile themselves, which is just what a brand wants.
5. Red Bull Stratos
Felix Baumgartner’s jump from space was always going to be a media event, but Red Bull created a clever campaign that milked the event to the maximum. The campaign grossed over 170 million views on YouTube, spread across the main jump video and thousands of user created videos. Brand Red Bull, needless to say, got a major boost from Felix Baumgartner’s death defying jump.
Takeaway: Sometimes, the build-up to the event can be more beneficial than the event itself. Red Bull created a lot of buzz by releasing teaser videos before the jump, and invited viewers to create their own videos. The result was thousands of reaction videos that pumped up the view count, like Felix Baumgartner, to the stratosphere.
Honesty, humour and a bit of daredevilry are proven ingredients for cracking the viral code. You may be working with the budget of a Fortune 500 company, or small startup, but that shouldn’t be any reason to not be successful with your viral marketing campaign, as the examples above show.
This post is brought to you by top London University student and keen blogger Lucas, Lucas studied for a Masters in Public Relations and now enjoys blogging about PR and advertising.