What on Earth is Viral?

This is a post I wrote for my company blog, but I liked it so much I thought I would post it here as well. Enjoy!

Viral is the new buzz word – everyone in the ad industry is talking about it, and more importantly companies are jumping on the bandwagon.  The best part?  Small and large companies alike can get in on the action!  The tough part is realizing sometimes viral is easier said than done…and the fact that it uses a digital medium doesn’t always mean it will produce instantaneous results.  

It isn’t a viral campaign until it goes viral.  Although you can develop a viral campaign, you audience chooses whether or not to pass it on through e-mail, social networks, and websites.  

This means the campaign must be creative, different, and talk-worthy.  The user must derive some value from the campaign, whether it be a laugh, a useful, relevant piece of information or way to emotionally connect with friends and family.

Know your audience and what will be most relevant to them, and provide this in an interesting, innovative way.  If you do this, you  have given yourself the potential for a successful viral campaign.

Check out these top ten viral campaign picks from TimesOnline for some inspiration.

1. Nike: A Touch of Gold.  This campaign got 50 million views worldwide.  For those that aren’t football buffs, these ball handling skills aren’t exactly common – which sparked on an online debate over whether the clip was real or digitally produced.

2. Agent Provocateur.  Explicit? Yes. Effective? Most definitely – 360 million views effective. 

3. John West Salmon.  This landed 300 million views.  Proof that sometimes what people choose to pass on may surprise you.

4.  Quicksilver Dynamite Surfing. This ad made its way onto 95% of surfing websites…four days after it was released.  

5. Carlton  Draught. Most viral campaigns don’t have this big of a budget, but the sheer creativity of it makes it relevant to companies of any size.  It also shows how digital mediums can work with traditional ones: this ad was released two weeks before it aired on T.V. to generate buzz.

6. Trojan Games.  This site went up in 2003 to generate buzz and is still getting hits five years later.  Disclaimer: View at your own risk, its slightly provocative. 

7. Dove Evolution.  A testament to the real results a viral campaign can produce.  It positioned Dove as the “real beauty” company, which gave them a double digit sales increase.

8. Berlitz: Improve your English. This ad became so popular, the website it linked to couldn’t handle the traffic and had to be shut down.

9. Mentos and Diet Coke.  Paying attention to how people are using or talking about your product online pays off.  This experiment by Eepy Bird wasn’t commissioned by either company, but still got them major exposure. Well worth the 3 minutes.

10. Marc Ecko: Still Free.  The company caused some major controversy when they released a video on the web of a cover operation to tag Air Force One with grafitti.  It caught so much attention that major networks like ABC, MSNBC, and CNN covered the story and the U.S. Air Force itself investigated whether it had been simulated or was in fact real.

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