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Viral Marketing. (That’s an ad?) January 25, 2013

Posted by mattfarmer in Copy writing, writing.
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2 comments

old spice 1There are two forms of marketing which are very effective, and yet very hard to pin down to a strategy. One is guerrilla marketing, and the other is viral marketing. Lets have a look at viral marketing.

Viral marketing is when an idea, a video, or a tweet, or a picture, is circulated around the internet at the speed of thought, exposed to millions of people, and remains in the social consciousness for a long time afterwards. Just think of the ‘Old Spice Guy’. The commercial first aired during the 2010 Superbowl in the USA. The ad, on you Tube, had close to a quarter million views in the 2 hours after the Superbowl, and was increasing 100 000 every few hours after that. The ad was so well thought of, it even garnered positive responses on 4Chan!

Following on from the success of this, the marketing company behind this viral hit then had a 2-day marathon of video responses to questions raised on Twitter. Again, this was a huge success. Responses came back to the twitter questions with amazing speed and hilarity. The company earned nearly 11 MILLION video views, 29 000 Facebook fans and 58 000 new twitter followers. And, to hammer home the point of the viral marketing aspect, and how popular it was, the actual Old Spice product was barely mentioned in any of the video responses.

More recently, Dick Smith has been the fortunate recipient of viral advertising. A funny, tongue-in-cheek ad he created for Australia, playing off his name, encouraging everyone to eat his Australian made products, or, ‘eat dick for Australia day’, was banned from prime time early evening TV because it contained potentially offensive material.  dick_smith_ad_640x360

This news hit the internet, and almost immediately people were posting links to the ‘uncut and original’ ad on social media. Dick had interviews on talk shows, and on Sunrise, the hosts even congratulated him on having his ad shown on their show for free.

There is, of course, a formula to viral marketing. But, it is a formula whose ingredients are volatile and may not mix well. You need the right balance to make it work. You may have seen companies try and build a viral marketing campaign and fail. One of the best (or worst) examples was when the Chevy car company in America, opened it’s advertising space for people to make their own commercials for the newly launched SUV, the Tahoe. You could choose from different clips showing the vehicle doing, SUV stuff. You could run them in any order, have inspirational music, and then put your own messages up there.

You can possibly imagine the result when The Internet had finished with this marketing campaign. If you would like some help imagining that, have a look at these great examples – Great Padded Cell, or this one, encouraging you to Murder Your Family , language warning on that second one.

A viral marketing campaign, as I said, has a formula, but is not something that you can force, crowbar into popular culture. You need a reason for people to share it- an emotional connection, a ‘what the…?’ reaction, something is really funny and witty. You need the call to action to be subtle (depending on your message). That call to action can be to actually share the video, or as in the case of ‘Help for Paws – how and iPhone saved the lives of 5 puppies‘  the call to action is obviously- donate NOW! And, you need a good story to go with it. It needs to be compelling, hold your attention and make you want to watch all of it.