15 Viral Marketing Examples Over the Past 5 Years
Ashton Kutcher Reaches 1 Million Twitter FollowersThe social Roger Bannister of his day, Ashton Kutcher proved his tech savvy by becoming the first person ever to break the 1 million follower barrier. This was a key moment in social media history. It helped legitimize a growing social network and showed just how much popularity and influence Twitter could have. Unfortunately, it also contributed to the practice of gaining as many fans and followers as possible without considering if they were the right fans and followers first.
Mad Men YourselfTo help create buzz around the third season of Mad Men, AMC launched Mad Men Yourself, an avatar creator that allowed you to make a stylized ’60s version of yourself. The site received half a million visitors in the first week and the Season 3 premiere saw record ratings. Perhaps the most impressive part about this campaign is it’s still going strong five years later, receiving updates with every new season.
Paranormal ActivityFive years later and I’m still amazed that a small independent movie with a $15,000 production budget was able to become one of the most profitable movies of all time. Its success was due in no small part to a fantastic viral marketing campaign. The movie was initially released to a small number of cities; however, after the goose-bump inducing trailer, a call to action appeared prompting fans to “demand” the movie play in their city. Through a partnership with Eventful, Paramount created a petition system. If a city reached a certain number of people demanding the movie, it would play in that city. If there’s anything that piques people’s interest, it’s not having access to something.
Volkswagen: The Fun TheoryIn Volkswagen’s The Fun Theory, the brand used a series of experiments to find out if you could make people healthier, more environmentally conscious, safer, etc., if you made a mundane activity more fun. In addition to piano stairs and the world’s deepest trashcan, the brand invited creative people to come up with their ways of making boring things fun. It’s difficult to tell how a campaign like this can specifically affect sales, especially when the branding was so subtle – almost as if it was an afterthought. However, it did create a nice parallel between the brand and the idea that innovation can make people happier and their lives more enjoyable. Also, whether intentional or not, it was a fantastic case study that proved how easily you can positively affect human behavior by taking an everyday activity and making it more fun.
Ben Folds: Ode to Merton the Chatroulette PianistAlthough it seems like the Chatroulette fad was eons ago, it’s really only been three years since the video chat site exploded in popularity. During this time, the improvising piano player known as Merton created the highest rated video on YouTube by singing to whoever popped up in his chat window. Many viewers commented that he looked a lot like the singer/songwriter Ben Folds. In an ode to the original, Folds performed an improvised Chatroulette performance in front of a live audience at one of his shows, becoming a viral success in and of itself. (Warning: NSFW Language) The example demonstrated that celebrities and brands could piggyback on Internet trends to achieve their own success.
KLM SurpriseIn a fantastic example of a surprise-and-delight style campaign, Royal Dutch Airlines used Foursquare checkins and Twitter to identify passengers waiting for their flights. Then KLM representatives
Old Spice Man ResponsesRiding the wave of success from Isaiah Mustafa’s brilliant portrayal of The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, Old Spice brought the character to the social world with Old Spice Man Responses. The brand uploaded 185 videos to YouTube over the course of two days, responding to comments on various social networks with the same quirky wit featured in the commercials. I could go on about the millions of impressions and views, but the real legacy of this example is that it will go down as one of the most memorable social media-related campaigns ever.
Internship.com and Charlie SheenBack when Charlie Sheen had one of the most entertaining meltdowns of all time, the folks at Internships.com pounced. The man himself invited pretty much everyone in the world to be his social media intern when he tweeted out this message:
I’m looking to hire a #winning INTERN with #TigerBlood. Apply here – http://bit.ly/hykQQF #TigerBloodIntern #internship #ad — Charlie Sheen (@charliesheen) March 7, 2011How successful was the endorsement? The website saw 74,000 applicants in the first 48 hours following Sheen’s first tweet and over 1 million unique visitors during the length of the campaign. So… pretty successful.