The best viral marketing campaigns create a huge buzz around particular brands and topics, turning consumers’ attention towards certain products to get conversations going.
Over the years we’ve seen a handful of enormously successful viral campaigns, which have spread like wildfire all over the world. Uniquely engaging, creative and clever, the best viral stunts have put brands in the limelight for all the right reasons. And they’ve also taught us a thing or two about what it means to create a great viral marketing campaign.
Whether you’re considering launching a would-be viral marketing campaign of your own, or you’re simply looking to learn more about what’s made the best-known viral campaigns so successful, we’re here to divulge all the secrets. Read on to find out more about top viral marketing stunts and what we can learn from them.
What is viral marketing?
Viral marketing is a style of marketing that focuses on achieving huge levels of organic reach by encouraging audiences to share content. In doing so, viral campaigns avoid having to use up enormous amounts of budget to get their message across.
Viral campaigns cut the cost of marketing significantly, while still achieving phenomenal results in terms of brand awareness, engagement and reach. These campaigns also enable brands to share content with new audiences, making the most of the opportunities of social media and the vast numbers of users that top social platforms attract.
Viral marketing stunts we can learn from
Recent years have seen some brilliantly inventive and interesting viral marketing stunts, many of which were so memorable that we can instantly recall them today. Take a look at some of the most inspiring viral marketing stunts to see what these campaigns have to teach us about the power of creativity.
Red Bull’s New Moon Party
Red Bull is a company that’s never been shy of the limelight, but its New Moon Party marketing stunt really went above and beyond.
The stunt saw skydivers jump out of helicopters, far above the streets of Los Angeles. But these were no ordinary skydivers. Each jumper was equipped with a wingsuit, which was fitted with sparklers.
When city dwellers looked up into the night sky, they were in for a shocking sight. What looked like aliens or comets were falling from the clouds, and people were completely entranced. The confusion over what was happening got people talking and video footage was soon being shared all over social media.
When it transpired that Red Bull was behind the stunt, the company got some highly profitable coverage and a big boost to its reputation as a dangerous and exciting brand.
Uber’s Helicopter Service
Uber is constantly on the lookout for new ways to dominate the transport market, so we’ve seen some intriguing ideas from the brand over the past few years. One announcement really got people talking, however. It was of course the launch of Uber helicopter rides.
For a short period, Uber users were able to request a helicopter pick-up through the app, just as they would book a ride. Uber helicopter rides were of course enormously expensive, but even if the average Uber user couldn’t afford to try the service out, there’s no denying the fact that everyone was talking about it.
This teaches us a valuable lesson about great viral marketing stunts. Even if they’re wildly impractical and unavailable to the vast majority of a brand’s audience, they can still have a positive impact on a company’s reputation and create the kind of buzz that’s hugely valuable to a brand.
That Oscar Selfie
The best viral marketing stunts are remarkably subtle when it comes to product placement and branding. One of the most famous examples of this is that Oscar selfie taken by Bradley Cooper, which featured some of the world’s most famous faces, from Ellen DeGeneres and Brad Pitt to Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Lawrence.
The selfie itself was shared over two million times on Twitter, but relatively few people know that it was in fact a clever marketing stunt by Samsung. The company paid to have its Galaxy smartphone appear during footage of the ceremony, and we saw a few glimpses of stars using the smartphone to capture photographs with Hollywood A-listers.
The element of spontaneity in this stunt, combined with the enormous following that the featured actors and TV personalities already had, made it one of the most successful marketing ploys the world has ever seen.
Tinder verifies users’ height
April Fool’s Day never fails to bring out some great pranks from brands. In 2019 we saw it used to full effect by dating app Tinder.
The app’s social team started talking about a new feature that was soon to be launched, designed to combat the problem of users lying about their height. The height verification feature would check users’ height and identify any who were being dishonest. Social platforms were immediately alight with fierce debate over the ethics of such an idea, and a new viral stunt was born.
While Tinder’s idea was designed as a tongue-in-cheek joke to get people talking about its app, it also clearly shows how brands can use seasonal festivities to inspire new marketing stunts that still remain true to their unique tone of voice and brand identity.
A pig saves a life for Comedy Central
We all love a cute clip featuring our favourite animals, so it’s not surprising that video footage of a pig saving the life of a baby goat took the internet by storm when it appeared on YouTube. The surprise here is that the footage was completely fake. It was, in fact, designed to publicise Comedy Central programme Nathan for You. And it did so incredibly well.
The footage was noticed by several US news stations before it was revealed as a hoax. During that time, the clip was widely shared and watched by huge numbers of viewers, helping to expand the reach of the TV programme and get audiences excited about its return.
Viral marketing stunts can catapult brands into the spotlight, significantly expanding their reach without the need for considerable investment. Keep an eye out for new viral stunts to learn more about what viral marketing has to teach us, and why it’s so important for today’s most creative companies.