Fletcher Martin VP PR & Social Media Strategy and author of SpeakMediaBlog Jennifer Jones has written a contributing article on the topic of viral marketing in which she takes a look at four viral marketing campaigns and tells us what's right and what's wrong with them.
These days one cannot go two clicks without reading about viral marketing. Some say it's the greatest notion since the four P's (product, pricing, promotion and placement). Others say it's an over-hyped waste of time that will burn itself out.
The bottom line is viral marketing can only be as good or bad as the campaign around it. Many would-be viral marketers seem to think calling something viral automatically makes it so. They fail to understand that viral marketing requires strategic planning at the start and ongoing promotion throughout the campaign. With this in mind, I have compiled a short list of what I feel are some of the best and worst viral marketing campaigns so far this year.
Viral Video With a Soft Touch: Stride Chewing Gum's Dancing Video
One of the greatest challenges with viral videos is deciding when and how to incorporate the brand. If the brand name is too present, your overt marketing will upset the viewer. If you don't include it enough, you risk being called out for deceptive practices.
So the Mullen creative department just finishes presenting their work for the New England Aquarium shark exhibit to the 12 year old AE they are forced to work with because, ya know, it's a pro bono-ish account and the little tyke says, "Well I like it but where's the viral component? Every great campaign has viral, right?"
Those videos with cell phones popping corn have been floating around since May 28 and have garnered much discussion surrounding their validity. While cell phones can fry your head and reportedly cause cancer, they don't pop corn. They can, however, take on a starring role in a series of videos for Bluetooth headset maker Cardo Systems.
On the YouTube page where Cardo posted its reveal, the marketer writes, "More than 4 million people have watched our little videos since May 28, 2008. We are very happy to have made this contribution to an important international public debate."
Jack Goldenberg tells the story of how he and Kevin Glennon turned a custom-made Obama for President watch into what could become a fairly sizable viral campaign for the candidate.
"Most people think of viral marketing is something they've seen on YouTube or a similar site. But in reality, a viral is any communication that causes one person to be so affected by "experiencing" the viral that they communicate it to another.
So a guy films his girlfriend wearing nothing but a t-shirt and underwear tantalizingly gyrating her hips while playing Wii Fit and, poof, instant YouTube stardom. Nope, It's not a marketing stunt from Wii but it did come from a guy in advertising, Giovanny Gutierrez, director of interactive marketing at Miami's Tinsley Advertising. And, and, and...his girlfriend, Lauren, also works in the business. Neither, however, for Nintendo in any capacity.
Gawker's Nick Douglas has a nice round up of the recent Levi's guys-jump-into-jeans viral video that scored 1.5 million views in a few days and how very similar it is to the Ray Ban vid that got 3 million views last year. From camera angles to music to YouTube posters with no previous videos to the increasingly more elaborate version of the stunts, the time-tested viral video strategy is laid out.
And it's all true. If you think about it, there's a definitive style behind most successful viral videos. It's formulaic sort of like...oh...this thing called advertising. Who knew?
"Don't you want to play with us," asks one of the Squad 81 cheerleaders whose mission it is to, apparently, help sell clothes for Company 81. The sweepstakes section of the site asks "Want these girls in your closet?" And the Send a Cheer Section asks, "Know someone who needs a little pick me up?" Witty. Well, yes, yes...and yes. Of course! Playing with cheerleaders, stuffing them into the bedroom closet and getting an...um...pick me up does sound like a lot of fun. I'm in. You?
Hey, remember that Zune Masks spot? Feed Company, which seeded it on YouTube and elsewhere, sent us metrics on how well it fared.
Back in 2004, Singapore hottie Wendy Cheng, aka Xiaxue was just a blogger. But a very popular blogger. in Singapore, at least. Then, in 2005, a t-shirt company LocalBrand approached her to become their brand ambassador. It was sort of a big deal back then for a brand to tap the popularity of a blogger.
Xiaxue was sort of like iJustine before iJustine became iJustine.
In case you haven't seen it (though it's a year old so maybe you have), here's the "banned" Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich commercial it's creator claims he created but was not approved by the client. He says Wendy's has nothing to do with it but we're sure they're quietly smiling over the video's growing popularity.