Hamburgers. TV shows. Office products. These are just a few of the things being promoted in an unorthodox manner through viral marketing campaigns. For those who don’t know, viral marketing is any technique that entices users to pass on a company’s marketing message to their friends and family, thus creating more exposure for the message.
Of course, doing this often requires an “outside-the-box” approach. After all, few people are going to spread a blatant advertisement to their friends. That’s why I’ve created this list of some of the most brilliant and successful viral campaigns. The one thing that each of these has in common is that they engage their target audience and elicit a response.
- BK Sacrifice– This Facebook App is brilliant! Burger King is no stranger to viral marketing. Almost everyone came across the Subservient Chicken at one point or another. This time, Burger King used Facebook to launch their newest viral campaign. What is it? Users install an app that gives them a free coupon for a Whopper after they delete (or “sacrifice”) 10 friends from their profile. Every time a user sacrificed a friend, a message would be sent to them stating their friend chose a Whopper over them. Of course, Facebook wasn’t thrilled with the campaign, and they pulled the plug shortly after its launch. However, the buzz had already been created, and all in all, the campaign was a success.
- Blair Witch- The Blair Witch Project was one of the first movies to use viral marketing successfully. The film generated a great buzz by being promoted as a documentary of a real event. Keep in mind, this was when the web was still developing and people were less used to these types of viral campaigns. The Blair Witch message spread like wildfire, and the film made a profit around $250 million.
- Office Max Elf Yourself- The last few holiday seasons, Office Max has pushed a viral campaign that allows users to “Elf” themselves. The concept is simple—upload a picture of yourself on the website, and your face will be affixed to a hilarious dancing elf. Need an example? See our very own Gerald Weber as an elf. The campaign captured mainstream attention, and from November 20, 2007 to January 2.2008, the site received 193 million visits.
- Quiksilver Dynamite Surfing- Quiksilver’s fake surfing videos generated millions of hits from youth around the world. The staged video featured a teen throwing a stick of dynamite into the water to create a wave for his friend to surf. Even though the surfers were nothing more than actors, users still passed the video to everyone they knew, gaining Quiksilver an immense amount of exposure in the process.
- Dexter Hit List-Dexter is a TV show about a serial killer. A viral campaign to promote the dark comedy featured a mock video of a press conference talking about a death list of the serial killer. Users can go to www.thedexterhitlist.com , enter a friend’s name and some details about them, and the video will show them as the next target on the hit list.
- Snakes on a Plane- Say what you will about the movie, but Snakes on a Plane generated an enormous amount of buzz online. One reason for this buzz was a viral campaign that allowed you to send your friends a personalized phone call from Samuel L. Jackson. Sure, the idea had been done before, but it was never personalized and it never featured Samuel ****in’ Jackson.
- Transport for London Do the Test- One of my favorite viral ads was the awareness test launched by the Transport for London. The video asks you to count how many passes are made by the basketball team in white. While the user is busy doing this, a twist comes up, making the campaign true viral gold.
Which viral campaigns do you love? Tell us about your favorites in the replies.
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