There are 3.3 million brand mentions on a daily basis in the United States alone. Word of mouth is a very powerful marketing tool that creates a snowball effect. People speak about your latest campaign and share it with their friends. These friends do the same, and the next thing you know, your brand is in front of a massive audience.
Thinking of how to create your own viral campaign can be tough, though. There are many different possible angles to take and endless strategies to test. That’s why today we are going to look at 7 of the best viral marketing campaigns that have ever been launched. You’re also going to learn exactly what made these so successful, helping you recreate their results.
Old Spice’s viral commercials
Who doesn’t know the Old Spice Man? His real name is Isaiah Mustafa and he’s been the star of some of the most entertaining commercials in recent years, helping the brand Old Spice go viral. But, this success wasn’t an accident. Old Spice pioneered social media marketing and viral campaigns as we know it.
Old Spice launched this campaign in February of 2010 during the Super Bowl. The commercial featured eye-catching special effects and humorous quotes from Isaiah, like the famous “The man your man could smell like” punchline.
Five months after the commercial aired, Old Spice posted on their Facebook and Twitter accounts, announcing that the Old Spice man would be taking questions. They weren’t kidding. The brand posted videos of Isaiah answering questions and responding to comments in complete character. There were approximately 180 videos published in just two days.
Other celebrities, such as Ellen Degeneres, Perez Hilton, and the tech blog Gizmodo all joined in to share the campaign. This effectively put Old Spice’s brand in front of millions of people. It is one of the earliest examples of influencer marketing and a great example of how engagement and leveraging other audiences can make a campaign go viral.
Dove’s campaign on beauty
Dove has always been a brand encompassing beauty, confidence, and self-esteem. So in 2013, they created a viral campaign that focused on speaking to these exact customer values.
They created a short film that took an FBI sketch artist, and had him draw the portraits of women. But, here’s the catch. The women first described how they viewed themselves, and then a stranger described them afterward.
The sketch artist didn’t see any of the women with his own eyes and only drew based on the descriptions he received. When the portraits were placed side by side, it was clear that the stranger’s description resulted in a much more beautiful image. The message of the campaign was that women are a lot more attractive than they might think they are.
Dove uploaded this video to their 33 different YouTube channels in more than two dozen languages. In the first month, the video went viral and received over 110 million views. This expanded their reach to over 100 different countries, as well. Their social media following grew incredibly fast as a result, making it a huge success.
So, what made this video work so well? Firstly, it spoke to their target market on a deep and emotional level. With most female customers inter ested in beauty, Dove created a compelling message that would attract their attention. When you go to create your own viral campaign, consider how you can tie in your audience’s values and needs.
Secondly, Dove teamed up with celebrities to help share the video. Note how Old Spice did the same thing in their campaign. This aided in the content being seen by a greater amount of people.
Lastly, Dove centered their campaign around a social cause, which was helping women feel better about themselves. This made users feel that they were doing a good deed by sharing it on social networks. They would also attach this value to Dove’s products and brand as a whole.
The ALS ice bucket challenge
Not all viral campaigns are to promote products and services. The ALS ice bucket challenge in 2014 is the perfect example of this. It was able to raise over $115 million in funding to help research, and every business can learn from the campaign model it used.
The campaign implored users to record themselves dumping a cold bucket of ice water over their heads. It didn’t stop there, though. The next step was to challenge at least three others to do the same thing, creating a viral effect.
Celebrities like Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Tom Cruise also participated in the ALS challenge. It was mentioned on Twitter over 2 million times and 1.2 million videos were posted on Facebook.
It’s easy to see why this campaign was so successful. The challenge itself was easy and anyone could join in. Similar to the Dove commercial, it had a social cause and made people feel good by being involved.
Chipotle’s mobile game and short film
Did you know that in 2013, Chipotle released their own mobile game? It was a part of their sustainable farming campaign to help raise awareness about animal treatment, growth hormones used in food, and other health concerns.
The campaign began with a short film, called The Scarecrow, produced by Moonbot Studios. It shows the story of a fictional food company that treats it’s scarecrow workers poorly. But when one scarecrow returns home, he finds a red pepper that symbolizes Chipotle’s logo. Suddenly the world turns brighter, the scarecrow is able to harvest fresh vegetables, and he goes on to be happy in the city.
A mobile game, based on the film, allowed players to battle against the corrupt food company and help animals out of confinement. The video received millions of views in only a couple of weeks and the app was downloaded over 500,000 times.
By connecting the two components of the campaign, they were able to get consumers more involved and happily supporting a good cause.
Lay’s “Do us a Flavor”
The potato chip powerhouse, Lays, asked consumers in 2012 to help them come up with new ideas for chip flavors. The reward was $1 million or 1% of the net sales of the winning flavors sales. Lays had food experts and chefs determine the winners, and by the end of the campaign, there were over 4 million different ideas.
Lay’s used Facebook and SMS to conveniently gather ideas from the community and to quickly engage with them throughout the campaign. They also used social media as a way to have users vote for the winner. This showed that the company cared about their customer’s opinions and that they could have a direct impact on the brand.
Lay’s Facebook fanbase tripled and sales went up by an astounding 12% throughout the United States.
GoPro’s Hero in action
One of the GoPro camera models, called Hero, accidentally created a viral marketing campaign in 2013. A firefighter, named Cory Kalanick, saved an unconscious kitten from a house fire while wearing the Hero3 GoPro camera. It recorded all of the footage and was later released on YouTube, where it gained over 1 million views.
GoPro edited the footage to include their logo and to upload it to their own channel. It reached a far wider audience, receiving over 5 million views in a single week. This video went viral because it was emotionally charged, simple, and short. It depicted how their cameras can capture incredible moments that can move the world.
Alexa lost her voice
The Amazon Echo speaker began gaining popularity recently, thanks to a couple of viral marketing campaigns. One of such was the “Alexa lost her voice” campaign, that was featured during the 2018 Super Bowl.
The commercial detailed a fictional situation in which the Amazon Echo’s voice, Alexa, was no longer able to work. To ensure that the world remained happy, Jeff Bezos and his team had certain people replace her. This included celebrities like Cardi B and Gordon Ramsay answering questions in a humorous way.
This campaign helped Amazon promote their product with celebrity names that many could recognize. It made the Amazon Echo look fun, and having the CEO of the company in the commercial makes Amazon appear more personable.
What you can learn from all of this
All of these viral marketing campaigns have a few things in common. If you apply them to your own, you may be able to achieve sound results.
Viral Marketing is such a powerful tactic to add to your mix. If your marketing campaign actually went viral, you may run the risk of getting your web host down, but hey, that’s the best kind of problem that could happen to your website!
The first of which is creating an emotional connection with your audience. Whether it was the Dove short film or the GoPro YouTube video, these campaigns leveraged emotion to make people more engaged with the content. Think of what emotions you can elicit out of your target audience that relates to your campaign and brand values.
Secondly, strive to make a campaign that’s based on consumer feedback. User-generated content, like the Lay’s flavor ideas, is a perfect example. Get input from the community, create a voting system, and leverage social media sharing to your advantage.
Lastly, mix a social cause into your campaign. Not only does this achieve a productive goal of helping a particular issue, but makes users feel that they are doing a good deed by participating. With this in mind, go create the next viral campaign that the entire world will see!