Do you remember Virgin Mobile's Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah! http://www.chrismahanukwanzakah from last year--now available again? It remains an ad designed for everyone, with areas for Hindu Santa, The Jews and Angel. The help line is 1-888-ELF-POOP. You can have one of three different characters sing you a holiday song, download ringtones, and send to a friend. Well, this year good ole Virgin Mobile is at it again, with the Body Building Grandma. The site is certainly designed with humor in mind, as users can buy a "super buff" phone; check out http://www.superbuff.com.
Have you seen Ubisoft's "Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones" viral video that's been floating around? It was released toward the end of last month to promote a video console game. In it, there are two young guys who are trying to act out video games moves. One is reading the directions while the other is acting them out. I cannot do this sick and twisted bit justice--you just have to see if for yourself at http://www.2december.co.uk/.
So have you ever tried to describe something viral? I have. It's pretty hard to put words to it. I almost always have to refer to a link and have friends or colleagues view, download or stream it for themselves.
Viral ads are risky and sometimes hard to track. Quite often the best viral marketing isn't intended. Did you ever see the guy who was selling his ex-wife's wedding dress on eBay? He took a photo of himself with the dress on. Of course he couldn't zip it up. In the ad he said he got stuck with it and wanted to recoup some of the money.
Several users on eBay have had their fifteen minutes of fame. Remember the woman who sold ad space on her very pregnant belly to the highest bidder? She appeared or was mentioned on every hot talk show earlier this year.
I was recently corresponding with Steve Curran, who founded Pod Design out of Massachusetts. He pointed me to a great example of a viral promotion for Tim Burton's movie "The Corpse Bride"-- http://www.bonymail.com. Even the URL is catchy.
So I've shown you several different examples. Now I'll ask you, what makes an ad viral? Is it where the ad is viewed? Because it can be forwarded to a friend? Maybe it is due in part to the creative being highly interactive? Perhaps it's all of the above?
I landed on http://www.wilsonweb.com and found a pretty good definition: "Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message's exposure and influence." Like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to explode the message to thousands or even millions.
Off the Internet, viral marketing has been referred to as "word-of-mouth," "creating a buzz," "leveraging the media," and "network marketing." But on the Internet, for better or worse, it's called "viral marketing."
Wilson says an effective viral marketing strategy must include some of the following elements:
1. It gives away products or services.
2. It provides for effortless transfer to others.
3. It scales easily from small to very large.
4. It exploits common motivations and behaviors.
5. It utilizes existing communication networks.
6. It takes advantage of others' resources.
Recently the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (Womma) http://www.womma.org and eMarketer partnered to produce a recent survey. It asked marketers what type of digital media they were either using or planning to use. The results found that 43 percent planned to employ word of mouth campaigns within the next six months.
What do you think? When you think of viral marketing and advertising, what comes to mind (aside from the old Dancing Baby)? Have you seen something lately that you have forwarded along? Have you incorporated WOM or viral into your recent campaigns? Tell us on the Spin Board. In the meantime, I'm still laughing out loud at some of these campaigns! Hey, if anything, they put a smile on my face this Monday. Hope they did for you, too.