What defines a successful “viral” campaign? Quality of content? Humor? How fast it blows up? Whatever it is, we know that to be “viral,” the advertisement needs to be self-replicating to an extreme degree. Based on the successes of the following 2010 marketing campaigns, we’d like to think that these fit the bill pretty nicely:
The Old Spice Guy
Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” television ad campaign was a massive hit this year, and originally aired during the Superbowl in February. It featured actor and former NFL practice wide receiver Isaiah Mustafa reciting a monologue, shirtless, in one take about how a man could do anything if he uses Old Spice’s brand of shower gel and cologne. On YouTube, the video’s views reached over 13 million. The campaign reached its peak when Mustafa began responding to Twitter fans’ questions on youtube in his signature towel and shower background (he responded with more than 180 short videos to celebrities like Demi Moore, Ellen DeGeneres, and Perez Hilton — in rapid succession.) Best Old Spice Guy clip? Him signing off to his followers, and then, immediately after a fish drops from above and into his hands, proclaiming, “Silverfish handcatch!”
Whiteout company Tipp-Ex made media headlines when they introduced an interactive YouTube video called “NSFW: A Hunter Shoots A Bear.” In it, a man about to be attacked by a massive bear shouts out “Hey, I don’t wanna shoot this bear!” He then erases “shoots” and implores you to change the story by writing in your own verb. There are a number of pre-recorded responses to write-ins (though if your verb isn’t recognizable, you’ll get the bear and hunter holding an “Error 404″ sign.)
When the environmentalist organization Greenpeace wanted Nestle to stop using palm oil, a kind of vegetable oil used in processed foods, because they claimed it was fueling deforestation and removing the orangutan from its natural home, they went viral. Activists teamed up with producers to create a video parodying Nestle’s “Need a Break?” catchphrase by showing a stressed office worker chewing off the finger of an orangutan instead of a Kit Kat. The video is fairly graphic (it shows blood spewing from the finger) but certainly gets the message across — it won “Best Viral Video 2010″ at the Berlin International Short Film Festival.
Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3 — which grossed has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide and is the highest grossing film of 2010 — had a unique viral video campaign this year that was composed of fake vintage ’80s commercials for one of the toys introduced in the movie, Lots o’ Huggin Bear (there’s even one in Japanese!). The massive campaign also featured free screenings to college students of the first two-thirds of the movie (but they’d have to pay to see the ending, when the movie came out.) There were also three internet-only videos (including one where Woody and Buzz have an IM chat) and a Disney application for Facebook that allowed users to purchase tickets directly from the site and update their friends when they did so. Additionally, there were a few hilarious ’70′s-themed interviews with the Ken doll called “Groovin’ with Ken,” and WaltDisneyUK released a similarly uproarious series on “Ken’s Dating Tips.”
Mountain Dew led a successful “DEWmocracy campaign” to create a new flavor, voted upon by customers, for its brand. Toward the end of 2009, the company invited individuals and ad companies to submit 12-second video ads for new flavors (Distortion, Typhoon, and White Out were the finalists.) Voters texted in their choices, or voted online through dewmocracy.com. WhiteOut eventually won, due to the striking color of the product and, ultimately, its cool packaging.
Tron: Legacy‘s viral campaign has had a long, hard road during its two-years, which is finally coming to a close when the movie opens December 17. The campaign has included the following: Disneyland parks changing its monorails to lightcycles, an online game, and flynnlives.com — a site maintained by “activists” that believe in Kevin Flynn’s (played by Jeff Bridges) mission and body of work. In October, a 23-minute preview of the movie was shown in IMAX theatres across the world, and the movie’s premiere is scheduled to be broadcast via the internet. Clearly the Tron marketers are trying to prevent its 1983 commercial flop from happening again. Whether the sequel will be as popular as the marketing has been, however, remains to be seen.