Famous Viral Marketing Campaigns

A few weeks ago, we talked about Viral Marketing for Websites. But viral marketing, the art of using word-of-mouth buzz to spread your brand, can be used for more than interactive marketing; in fact, it has endless possibilities in the world of business. Here are a few popular examples you can use to inspire your own viral marketing strategies:

Blair Witch Project – This 1999 movie was produced on an extremely low budget. To get the most from their marketing investment, moviemakers hyped the film as footage from a real event. The intrigue caused by this theory, and the consequential debate over its authenticity, skyrocketed its popularity both before the movie came out and while it was in theaters.
Cloverfield – In 2008, this scary movie showed teasers in its ambiguous trailer, which did not state the movie’s title or plot. This mystery instigated hype and drove curious throngs to the movie’s website for more information. Characters in the film each had their own social networking profiles, and companies mentioned in the film were also given their own websites, so that fans could investigate further.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 – When this show originally aired in the 1980s, fans had limited access to live viewings. However, at the end of each episode, they were encouraged to make videotape copies and pass them along to friends. The closing credits told viewers explicitly to “Keep circulating the tapes!” This encouraged hand-to-hand marketing and conversation about the show.

The Big Word Project – This project invited participants to submit their websites and blogs as entries in a “new” dictionary. Each entry linked a word to one definitive web page, which encouraged web participation via free promotion.
The Mike O’Meara Show – Podcasters participated in an extensive viral campaign on Facebook, encouraging fans to visit their website to download and share radiocasts of the show. A click-through link made the message accessible.

The Pyramid Scheme – This widely used business technique spans many industries. Participants “higher” in the pyramid directly benefit from the success of those “lower” in the pyramid, which encourages members to recruit new candidates and allows incentives to flow seamlessly throughout the system as a reward for each person’s continued success in the viral marketing effort.
Burger King – After a popular television commercial aired showing a man making a chicken do various outrageous activities, a website was launched where visitors could make a man in a chicken suit perform various actions, such as dancing and cartwheeling. This interactive campaign was so popular, it ran from 2004-2007. The tag line stated “Chicken the way you like it.”
Blendtec – The speed and strength of this line of blenders is demonstrated by YouTube videos in which founder Tom Dickson blends various ordinary items. Viewers can comment on the results and share these videos with friends.

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