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Viral Marketing – What is it?

Posted on: Wednesday 14 October, 2015 | Filed in: Blogs

Viral marketing campaigns are, to a certain extent, unpredictable as their success is largely down to grabbing the public’s attention and making them take notice and want to share them online.

Viral marketing can make us laugh, make us cry and make us feel shocked – and occasionally all of those at the same time! The whole point of a viral campaign is that it demands a response and is then spread far and wide.

Some of the most successful viral marketing campaigns have been almost accidental – think #NoMakeUpSelfie and #IceBucketChallenge which simultaneously captured those parts of us which like to show off whilst also benefitting a good cause, as these campaigns had a charitable element to them.

Other viral marketing campaigns have been carefully crafted in order to shock us into sharing them with our friends. For example, LG’s ‘So Real It’s Scary’ and TNT’s ‘A Dramatic Surprise On A Quiet Square’ which both see the companies set up elaborate stunts to scare unwitting passers-by. All of this makes for a series of great hidden camera shots, and ultimately saw the adverts being viewed tens of millions of times online.

Another advert which caught the attention of online viewers was that of Evian and their ‘Roller-skating Babies’ This 60 second film was shot as part of Evian’s ‘Live Young’ Campaign to be shown on TV and web video campaign. Evian’s worldwide director said that “they were trying to sell their drinkers a ‘dream’. This advert was a huge hit on YouTube with millions of hits and making it almost hard to escape from ever seeing it.

Another video which certainly grabs attention is the “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” promotional campaign from Old Spice. This short 30 second advert highlights Old Spices’ products with the use of the Old Spice man being ‘Isaiah Mustafa’, The advert was shot in one go and features Isaiah keeping direct eye contact with the camera for the duration of the advert while doing odd activities and in different locations.

More viral videos include this iconic moment. On 12th October 2012 Red Bull launched the Project ‘Red Bull Stratos’ which was to help the Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner skydive from the outer edge of the stratosphere. He broke three different world records in that one jump, this advert gained significant recognition making it a great success for Red Bull.

Viral campaigns can be seen as an incredibly successful way to reach a very large audience. Companies often see them as the Holy Grail of marketing. Whilst they are highly effective, it should be noted that they are not always very precisely targeted and they can occasionally land the companies behind them in hot water.

Firms using viral marketing tend to have a brand image of risk-taking and a more adventurous tone to their promotional activity. Whether this tactic pays off however, will ultimately be judged on the resulting sales figures.

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