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5 Marketing Campaigns or Videos That Went Viral and Why

Sometimes the right idea for a marketing campaign just resonates with viewers due to cleverness, humor, or its uplifting message. These campaigns will often make a splash on TV, but in the age of the internet, they are able to create tidal waves. Here are five marketing campaigns that went viral with people still remembering them today.

Poo~Pourri’s Toilet Humor Prevails

Poo~Pourri went from a novelty item to a mainstream “this is real” product thanks to one YouTube video that went viral and sparked a series of marketing videos that proved crude toilet humor can sell a product. The YouTube video “Girls Don’t Poop” features an elegant young lady using toilet humor language in an almost poetic fashion to discuss her activities in the lavatory and how Poo~Pourri hides them. While the humor may be crude, the video’s actress Bethany Woodruff hits every line perfectly in a proper British accent that will have you unable to stop watching, which is exactly why it went viral. See for yourself.

Paranormal Activity: You Demand It, You See It

Whether you are a fan of horror movies or not, you’ve probably heard of Paranormal Activity. You might even recall seeing commercials asking you to demand that it be played in your area. This was a major part of their marketing campaign, but first they had to convince you that you wanted to see it. This was the other major part of their marketing campaign: commercials that went viral thanks to their genuine authenticity. The commercial didn’t just show a trailer with the most horrifying parts of the movie; what it showed was a packed movie theater audience screaming their heads off in horror, followed by a website and a call to action to demand the movie be played in your area. The curiosity of what the audience was being frightened by on screen was enough to make any movie fan demand to see Paranormal Activity.

This unique approach also made sure Paramount was showing the movie to markets they knew wanted to see it. In areas where they saw a high demand for the movie, they started out with midnight showings almost guaranteeing that theaters would be packed with moviegoers. It turned this movie with a $15,000 budget into a box office phenomenon that made nearly $200 million.

Lay’s Create-a-Flavor

Lay’s created a blaze across social media with their “Do Us a Flavor” campaign, tasking consumers across the nation to create their own flavor of chip for the chance to win $1 million. This campaign was so successful that they’ve run several iterations of it and even have one running right now.

The initial campaign started in 2012 and saw over 4 million flavors submitted, which was eventually narrowed down to 3 flavors by a panel of celebrity chefs and flavor experts. The three finalist were: Cheesy Garlic Bread, Chicken & Waffles, and Sriracha. Each of these three flavors was created and released by the Frito-Lay company with Cheesey Garlic Bread winning the top spot in May 2013. Karen Weber-Mendham, a children’s librarian from Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin, won the $1 million grand prize.

The campaign not only served as great PR for Lay’s by giving consumers a voice, but also tripled their Facebook fan base and increased sales by 12 percent. Allowing consumers a direct voice in product development is why this went viral, as well as why it’s no surprise Lay’s has kept this going.

GoPro’s “Fireman Saves Kitten”

You’re probably familiar with GoPro. These high-definition personal cameras are often used in extreme sports to capture the action from a first person perspective. You’ve probably even witnessed these type of videos for yourself. But it was a completely different type of video that ignited social media and went viral. “Fireman Saves Kitten” clip gives viewers a first person perspective of firefighter Cory Kalanick as he discovers an unconscious kitten in the aftermath of a house fire and resuscitates the small pet.

GoPro cut the original 30 minute long video into a short movie trailer-like clip and put it on their YouTube channel. It reached 5 million views in a week, a much wider audience than the original which was only seen by 1 million within the first week. While culminating in a tragic end––the kitten unfortunately succumbed to smoke inhalation later at a vet––the video demonstrates GoPro’s ability to capture powerful moments in life. Pet oxygen masks are usually donated and aren’t carried by all fire stations, and after this video was seen, several were donated to Kalanick’s fire station.

Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches”

Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” went viral because of the emotional point it makes. It is an uplifting video that generated record breaking views with over 114 million views in the first month alone. The video focuses on how women are oftentimes their own worst critic when it comes to their looks. By having a professional sketch artist draw a facial sketch based on their descriptions of themselves and then draw a second version based on another’s description, the video shows we truly don’t give our own looks enough merit.

The video was a big hit with consumers and generated 3.8 million shares in the first month and added over 15,000 subscribers to Dove’s channel after two months. The quick spread was thanks to the video’s being translated to 25 languages and being uploaded to 33 of Dove’s official YouTube channels. The result was consumers in over 110 countries seeing the poignant message. The video even expanded into traditional media with print features and news broadcast segments discussing it. Dove and its agency partner Ogilvy & Mather Brasil went on to take the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity’s highest award, Titanium Grand Prix, for the video.

Marketing campaigns fail and succeed every day, but rarely do they go viral. While all agencies hope their campaigns do well, it’s usually unknown when a campaign will strike a chord with consumers and take the internet by storm. These campaigns did just that, and hopefully they’ve given you some ideas on your own marketing campaigns.



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