Virality is a mystery that is yet to be completely solved. This article will highlight some of the key elements that have contributed to some of the best viral marketing campaigns. A few weeks ago, I posted part 1 of this blog which contains the first 5 of the 10 best viral marketing campaigns in the last 10 years. If you haven’t had the chance to read the first post, be sure to check it out here. Without further ado, here are the final 5 best viral marketing campaigns in the last 10 years:
6. GoPro, Fireman Saves Kitten (July 2013)
Real-life Fresno firefighter Cory Kalanick attached a GoPro to his helmet before entering an extinguished burned house. Kalanick then discovered an unconscious kitten named Lucky on the floor and revived him back to life with a child’s oxygen mask. When Kalanick uploaded the video, it became a viral Internet sensation and shorty after, managed to go viral again once GoPro turned the video into an ad for the brands Be a Hero Campaign. Although many GoPro video ads have gone viral, “Fireman Saves Kitten” was a compelling new route the brand took for its campaign. The brand is known for delivering sports-related, adrenaline-filled action ads but, this real-life rescue story intrigued viewers in an emotional way while demonstrating the GoPro’s ability to capture memorable and meaningful moments.
The ad was criticized when it was reported that aside from Kalanick’s efforts, Lucky passed away later that night from smoke inhalation (RIP Lucky). Apparently, GoPro was unaware of this news and did not intend to mislead viewers. Taking this news into consideration, it still doesn’t make Kalanick any less of a hero, or make his efforts any less inspiring. With a combined total of about 30 million views, the video became the brand’s most-viewed campaign of the year. Advertising Age also granted the video with its Best User-Created Viral Ad award.
7. Always, Like A Girl (June 2014)
Feminism and gender equality videos stole the spotlight when it comes to viral marketing campaigns in 2014, and Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign was in front of the line. The video demonstrated a touching and eye-opening social experiment in hopes of changing the negative connotation of the phrase “like a girl.” The commercial shows adult men, a young boy, and women acting insubstantial when asked to run, throw or fight “like a girl”. But, when pre-adolescent girls were asked the same question, they demonstrated nothing less than giving it their all. So, what is the brands message? The young girls are not knowledgable of the dismissive “like a girl” label yet, so they ran, threw, and fought to the best of their ability. The takeaway from this campaign was that somewhere in between girlhood and womanhood, females will most likely inherit the rest of societies idea that throwing, running and hitting “like a girl” implies inferiority.
Long gone are the days of period-shaming as feminine hygiene product brands like Always are beginning to address the usually awkward topic with awareness and empowerment. And what other way to create awareness for your branded message than airing it during the most-watched show in U.S television history: this year’s Super Bowl. Fama Francisco, VP of Global Feminine Care for P&G said, “There’s no better platform than the Super Bowl to reach over 100 million people to spread the message and redefine the meaning of ‘like a girl”. Aside from airing during the Super Bowl with 114.4 million viewers, the video became one of the best viral marketing campaigns of 2014, with 54 million views on YouTube alone. Critics took to Twitter using the hashtag #LikeABoy, pointing out that girls are not the only ones who suffer with confidence issues. Any persons self-esteem can certainly plummet during puberty, but the term “like a boy” isn’t used to signify inferiority or weakness. In wake of the ads aftermath,“like a girl” probably isn’t going to suddenly become a compliment, but it can serve as a reminder for people that the term “like a girl” shouldn’t be used to undermine any persons ability. Francisco revealed the data among men seeing the commercial is actually encouraging, “Two out of three men who have seen the video said they would now stop or at least think twice before they would use the phrase ‘Like a Girl’ as an insult.” The video ad targeted the brands market perfectly – young girls transitioning into adulthood, mothers who can relate to the message, and even their fathers. Always’ “Like A Girl” represented a strong case on why audiences alike should reconsider their use of the term, “like a girl.”
8. GEICO, Happier than a Camel on Wednesday (May 2013)
Auto insurance company GEICO has released many commercials promising that choosing GEICO will make you happier than some certain individual. The commercials have starred humorous characters like Dracula or Christopher Columbus and in 2013, when the insurance company introduced a new character named Caleb the camel, Wednesday’s were never the same again. After the commercials debut, “Happier than a Camel on Wednesday” became GEICO’s most viral ad of all time, which is impressive considering the company is no stranger to the viral charts. Caleb the camel shortly became an icon, entertaining viewers and creating the trend every Wednesday for people to walk into work or school chanting “Uh oh! Guess what day it is?” imitating Caleb’s distinctive voice. The video ends comparing the happiness one can gain from saving money with the insurance company, to the “hump day” feeling a camel feels on a Wednesday. The commercial has become a cultural phenomenon and GEICO even released another video in 2014 spoofing their own “Happier than a Camel on Wednesday” ad.
The humorous sight of an enthusiastic talking camel strutting through an office in the middle of the week among tired co-workers (the same middle of the week feeling we all can relate to) is one way to go viral. But, the day-related topic has raised even more awareness for the insurance company, increasing the commercial’s sharing and searching statistics consistently week after week. An unofficial Facebook page was even created for the Hump Day Camel and now has almost 67,000 fans. GEICO’s viral success of “Happier than a Camel on Wednesday” proves quirky commercials can still hit the social networking jackpot, especially when a relevant topic continuously attracts social sharing among viewers.
9. Wren Studio, First Kiss (March 2014)
Wren Studio, a small fashion brand based in L.A. unexpectedly produced one of the most viewed campaigns of 2014, even beating World Cup campaigns from Nike and Samsung. Wren’s video was posted on YouTube for its Fall 2014 campaign, debuting 10 couples, who are all strangers, meeting for the first time and being asked to kiss. The video quickly went viral generating 77.8 million views, 1,392,296 Facebook shares, and 68,740 Twitter shares in the first 31 days it was posted.
The black and white short video is unique in many ways; for one, being completely unbranded other than the short Wren Presents title flashed on screen in the beginning. Most of the viral audience didn’t realize the ad was created by a fashion brand and the women in the video are all wearing Wren’s 2014 fall line, listed shortly in the ending credits. The video did begin and end with a vague plug for “Wren Studios,” but the connection with the videos message to a product wasn’t clear. However, Wren Studio addressed the video’s negative branding talk by stating the company’s website traffic rose 14,000 percent and retail sales up 13,000 percent after the video was posted, according to Melissa Coker, Founder and Creative Director at Wren. A new marketing trend of branded documentary storytelling has emerged and many brands could learn from Wren’s “First Kiss” video, after reaching 156 million YouTube views and counting. Drawing heavily on telling an emotional story to grab consumer attention, “First Kiss” focuses on the intimate interaction between the couples on screen, not the product, to successfully drive awareness.
10. Volkswagen, The Force (February 2011)
Volkswagen’s “The Force” commercial features a young boy embracing his Darth Vader character by attempting to use The Force on the family dog and other objects throughout the house. After he is shamefully unsuccessful in these attempts, he is shocked discovering he started his fathers car in the driveway, not knowing his father actually started it with one of the new features in the 2012 Volkswagen Passat, such as remote ignition. Before the commercial aired during the 2011 Super Bowl, Volkswagen took a leap of faith on standing out against its competitors and ran the ad a day early. This move defied what was then widely accepted as smart advertising around the biggest ad day of the year. Tim Ellis, Head of Marketing for Volkswagen North America at the time said, “I thought if everything goes right, this thing will catch fire and go viral.” Sure enough, by 8 a.m. the next day, the ad earned 8 million views before it aired during the 2011 Super Bowl. Today, it is the most shared Super Bowl ad of all-time and the second most shared commercial ever, combining its success with socially earned media with paid media.
The ad’s viral success set a new path for how advertisers approach Super Bowl commercials ever since, “It’s gone from being a one-time event to a months-long marketing campaign,” said Ellis. The commercial itself was admired and went viral by combining the popularity of Star Wars, eliciting childhood nostalgia, and using a narrative climax of the kid failing and finally succeeding. Overall, the ad was extremely effective with viewers years later remembering Volkswagon’s “The Force” commercial by the kid, the product, and the message. Good job, Volkswagen.
So there you have it, the final piece of the 10 Best Viral Marketing Campaigns over the last 10 years. If you think others should be added to the list, feel free to share them in the comments section!