The Mechanism of Sharing: How These 5 Campaigns Went Viral


The Mechanism of Sharing How These 5 Campaigns Went Viral
There is no form of marketing more cost-effective than having a campaign go viral on social media. A really successful viral marketing campaign can reach more customers than a TV spot during the Super Bowl and for a tiny fraction of the cost.
Here are 5 examples of campaigns that took off through the magic of viral marketing.
KMart: Ship My Pants
Dirty words and bathroom humor will never stop getting attention, particularly when they are cleverly disguised and wrapped in an otherwise innocuous phrase. KMart’s sneakily naughty TV bit inundated social media before it even hit the airwaves. This was a boon for the brand, which has struggled for years to keep up with the likes of Walmart and Target.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
There is no one with a Facebook account who isn’t intimately familiar with this smash hit of a viral campaign. Started by the friends of a former college baseball player suffering from ALS, the Ice Bucket Challenge successfully tapped into the narcissism that fuels Facebook and channeled it into something good for society. Thanks to the power of viral marketing, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge helped generate more than $100 million for ALS research over a four-week period in 2014, compared to less than $5 million during the same period a year earlier.
Always: Like a Girl
“You play ball like a girl!” Almost everyone is familiar with that memorable line from an equally memorable 1990s movie. Feminine product maker Always achieved ubiquity of its own with an ad challenging the veracity of the age-old childhood barb of equating a lack of athleticism with being girl-like. In the ad, a young girl is shown performing various athletic moves “like a girl” — except there is nothing about her movements that draw snickers. She is clearly adept at running and throwing. This ad spread like a wildfire on social media and elicited lavish praise from women and men alike.
GNC: Beat Average
This campaign capitalized on a couple stalwarts of modern society. One is our need — largely fueled by social media — to stand out from the pack and be noticed. The other is the ever-growing trend toward health and fitness. The spot follows an everyday guy as he goes about his day while a voice-over delivers a series of pithy quips about what it means to be “average” and how using GNC’s products can help you “beat average.”
Dove – Real Beauty Sketches
Boosting women’s self-esteem and making them feel more beautiful is a combination that present a high probability of success. And describing Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” ad as a success is a massive understatement. In the ad, women describe their physical appearance to a sketch artist who cannot see them, and the sketch artist renders a drawing based on the description. Next, a stranger sits next to the female subject and describes her to the artist, who renders another drawing. The two drawings are then revealed. Every time, the drawing rendered from the stranger’s description shows a much more attractive woman. The ad concludes with this message: “You’re more beautiful than you think.” Social media users ate up its positive, self-esteem-building message, causing it to be one of the most talked-about ads of 2014.
These ads demonstrate the power of viral marketing and how it can get the whole world talking about a brand. The smart 21st century marketing professional knows how to deliver a message that stands out and compels people to share it with others.
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