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10 Marketing Campaigns That Went Viral

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10 Marketing Campaigns That Went Viral

It doesn’t take much for something to go viral these days. Social media has made it so easy to share something, that just with a click of a button you have exposed your entire friends list to a video that they will then share, and the rest is history. For advertisers, the internet is the perfect place to bring awareness to their product, or service. Even films have to have a great marketing plan, because sometimes a trailer isn’t enough. Movies with a small budget, like 2014’s Devil’s Due, often have to rely on guerilla-style marketing like the “Devil Baby” prank they unleashed on unsuspecting New Yorkers.
Some great examples of viral videos are the Rebecca Black “Friday” music video, and the guy obsessing over the “double rainbow”. Some of them are funny, and some of them you can’t avoid even if you tried. Here are 10 recent advertising campaigns that spread across the internet through countless shares, likes and retweets, sometimes even sparking heated debates over their effectiveness.

10. Nike – Kobe Bryant Jumps

Similar to the classic Powerade ads circa 2005 that showed athletes like Lebron James nailing five full court baskets in a row, and Andy Roddick hitting a tennis ball right into the court, Nike used the inhuman-like power of a famous athlete to promote a pair of shoes. In 2008, Nike released a series of ads featuring their new Hyperdunk shoes and Los Angeles Lakers guard, Kobe Bryant. Although the shoes are only mentioned briefly, the ads make it clear that Bryant is endorsing Nike, and that is all that is really needed. In one spot, Bryant jumps over an Aston Martin that is accelerating right towards him. In another, he runs, and jumps right over a swimming pool full of snakes to land a slam dunk. The ads have that “you have to see it to believe it” quality, making the campaign a viral sensation, with millions of views.

9. Make a Wish Foundation – Bat Kid

5-year-old Miles’, who was in treatment for leukemia last year, wished to be Bat Kid, and the San Francisco Make a Wish Foundation made it happen. The event, which involved the entire city of San Francisco including the mayor, the chief of police, and hundreds of volunteers, was never meant to be a marketing campaign. But it brought a lot of attention to the foundation, and subsequently the BatKid Fund, which was set up by Miles’ parents to help local charities and other children with leukemia. Miles got to dress up like Batkid, and help Batman save the city from the Riddler and Penguin, two infamous villains. Miles’ day was covered by news stations across the world, and was a social media sensation, as everyone went online to congratulate Miles, and be a part of the phenomenon.

8. Volvo – The Epic Split feat. Jean Claude Van Damme

In another example of, there’s no way he just did that, marketing, action star Jean Claude Van Damme helped Volvo demonstrate just how smooth their steering system really is. With the dramatic music, and intense monologue, the video is almost mesmerizing. Van Damme stands with one foot each on the side mirrors of two Volvo transport trucks, and slowly the trucks drive apart, leaving Van Damme balancing there in a complete split. The video has over 72 million views on Youtube, making it clear that amazing physical stunts are one of the keys to the viral video. Will it help Volvo sell more cars? Maybe not, but it makes you wonder if Jean Claude Van Damme is really from this planet. The video has even sparked spoofs, including one by Channing Tatum, to promote his upcoming movie 22 Jump Street.

7. PooPourri – Girls Don’t Poop

Sometimes all it takes is one hilarious ad to put your product on the map, and that’s exactly what happened with PooPourri. The air freshening spray that is meant to be spritzed into the toilet before you go… number 2, seemed like a joke at first, especially with the matter-of-fact, use every euphemism that exists for poop, commercial that was all over Youtube in 2013. But it is actually a real product. And one that a lot of people think is a brilliant invention, according to the Youtube comments and reviews. The ad went viral, with over 26 million views to date.

The star of the commercial, Scottish student, Bethany Woodruff has even been compared to the Old Spice guy in the level of fame she gained from the advertisement.

6. Tourism Queensland – The Best Job in the World

If there is one thing thousands of people around the world are looking for on a daily basis, it’s a job. That’s what Tourism Queensland was banking on when they launched their Best Job in the World campaign, where they offered literally anyone who applied with a 60 second video on their website, a 6 month contract job on a beautiful island on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. All the successful candidate would have to do was write a regular blog about their experience. The ad was placed in newspapers across the world, and the website got so many hits that it crashed at one point. There were close to 35,000 applications, and worldwide media coverage valued at over $80 million, making the campaign a huge success for Queensland Tourism.

5. Blendtec – Will it Blend?

In the early days of Youtube popularity, a company called Blendtec produced a series of infomercials featuring their line of heavy duty blenders. They started with blending food items but quickly upped the ante to more unusual objects, like a camcorder, cellphones, and recently, an iPad. There are 131 episodes, to date, of the Blendtec founder Tom Dickson, and his team attempting to blend various objects. In 2006, the series of commercials was a hit almost instantly, and it is still going strong, with the recent iPad episode currently at over 16 million views. You can also suggest items for future episodes on the Blendtec Facebook page.

4. Cardstore – World’s Toughest Job

For Mother’s Day, greeting card company Cardstore created an ad for a fake job, which people actually applied for. They interviewed some of the candidates via webcam, and the ad World’s Toughest Job is the result. The job is explained to the candidates as being 24-7, with no breaks, no vacation, and without pay. Understandably, the job seekers scoffed, saying that was “inhumane” and “cruel”. At the end of the video, the interviewer revealed that millions of people already hold this job: Moms. The ad has gotten a lot of press so far, including some irate articles about how it ignores all the work fathers do, as well. But with over 16 million views on Youtube in less than a month, the campaign is clearly a huge viral success.

3. Carrie – Telekinetic Coffee Shop Girl

To promote the film adaptation remake of Stephen King’s classic novel Carrie, marketers decided to pull a prank on unsuspecting coffee shop customers. They rigged up the coffee shop with a fake wall, pulley system, remote controlled tables, and spring loaded books and picture frames, to make it seem like an angry girl was actually moving things with her mind. And people believed it. The video, which ends with a short clip from the film, shows people backing away, and sometimes actually running out of the coffee shop in terror. The viral prank video is a  great way to get word out about a movie, because it brings the story into real life.

2. Dove – Dove Real Beauty Sketches

Last year, Dove released an ad with the goal to encourage women (and men) to appreciate their beauty. In the ad, a sketch artist creates a drawing of a woman based first on the way she describes her appearance, and then based on the way someone else describes her. The results are an eye opener to the fact that a lot of people see themselves as a lot less beautiful than they really are. The ad was generally received well, and Dove was praised for their focus on self esteem.

More recently, Dove released another ad that asked women to wear a “beauty patch” which was supposed to release confidence boosting hormones into their blood stream. The participants (all women) reported feeling a lot better about themselves after wearing the patch, but at the end it was revealed that the patch was a placebo, and it was just the idea in their heads that they should feel more confident, that made them feel more confident. This ad didn’t go over as well, as people thought it made women look unintelligent. Either way, Dove knows how to create a viral campaign. Sometimes controversy is what makes a video so popular.

1. Old Spice – Old Spice Guy

Old Spice decided to direct this marketing campaign at women instead of men, and it was genius. In the “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”, universally attractive guy, Isaiah Mustafa, talks directly to the camera (or to women) while holding a bottle of Old Spice body wash. The company speculated that woman are often the ones purchasing grooming products, even for the men in the house, so by directing their campaign at women, they were widening their audience and potential consumers. The ad has even won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial. Not only is it internet approved, but critics love it too.

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