An actress friend of mine who is currently filming a viral advert in Germany for a well-known financial services company asked me what a ‘viral advert’ was. Taking that lead, I thought it might be useful to post an explanation including one of the more compelling examples I’ve seen.
Viral adverts are typically undertaken as part of wider marketing campaigns. They are short video clips, online games, ebooks, images etc. that promote a brand in some way. Specifically, however, they aim to be interesting, clever, eye-catching, controversial (etc.) enough for people to spread them to their contacts and friends (and more widely) via social media channels – but also email – rapidly over a short period of time.
Successful viral campaigns work fantastically well for brands and, by their very nature, need little marketing effort once created aside from the initial distribution push. In that way they are an excellent tool – the challenge arises, of course, in creating a campaign idea that has the appeal to be successful. They don’t have to be expensive but they often are and, if they don’t work, that’s a lot of wasted investment.
Here’s a brilliant example of one of the better and more successful viral adverts – from Dove (not exactly financial services but it does illustrate the point very well):
Why is it so successful? We’ll it’s very well executed (by Ogilvy, I believe). It also touches on a subject that is already has high media profile – personal appearance and the use of photoshop to enhance already beautiful people (giving the rest of us no chance at all!).
Viral marketing: a great marketing campaign tool. If you’ve got the right idea.