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What makes a great viral video? This is a problem I’ve been coming up against recently, especially as there’s always the simple risk that when trying to do anything viral: it will either work or it won’t. 

This is something I’m going to try and explore across a couple of blog posts in the next month or so, as the subject is so huge and complex, but a good starting point seems to be to showcase some of the best examples of viral advertising that currently exist.

A great deal of viral advertising online seems to be composed solely of the big boys, brands that can afford to take a risk, due to the sheer scale of their global presence, revenues and outrageous marketing budgets. 

It’s interesting to note, that certainly in the past twelve months, the presence of viral videos seem to have ebbed away slightly, as the economic uncertainty has forced organisations to tighten down the screws on marketing budgets that are fool-proof. 

However, as 2010 approaches, I very much feel that some companies will be trying to force viral videos into their marketing strategies. Whether or not this is something I believe will work will be discussed in a follow-up article, but for now, I’ve selected some of the most successful and compelling brand-led viral videos that currently exist. 

Feel free to chip in with suggestions if you think I’ve missed anything, just bear in mind that I’m trying to demonstrate and collect big-brand examples. 

T-Mobile

If you haven’t seen this, where have you been? A pre-planned flash-mob invade Liverpool St train station in London and shake their stuff to some funky beats. Remember, life is for sharing. It’s had nearly 15m views on the official channel alone. 

 

Dove

The Evolution video was part of a wider strategy of Dove, being part of their Campaign For Real Beauty. However, the video has proven to be a great success. From something that cost $50,000, it saw over 12m hits online within a year and generated an estimated $150m worth of media space and Unilever reported that its overall sales in the period following the release of Evolution rose by 5.8%.

 

Cadburys

The chocolate giant secures two spots. One for their Gorilla ad, which spawned hundreds of copies and spoofs, giving them huge online coverage and the second for their Eyebrows video, which saw similar results. It’s worth noting that it’s not been all success for them though, with the often-criticised airport-runway-race. That said, between the two videos here, the company has clocked up at least 15 million views.

   

   

Quicksilver

The alternative-sport giant indulged in a low-budget spot of urban anarchy. People are still arguing if it's real... And the result? Well in excess of 1.5m views. Boom. 

 

Honda

The car-manufacturer is a legendary advertiser, however it's their Cog ad that makes the grade here, not least because it was one of the first virals I personally experienced, many years ago. I love the fact that none of it was faked - and globally, it's had millions and millions of views since it was released.

Isn't it nice when things just work?

 

Adidas

Last year, Adidas pulled together 25 short videos that were released online. This is one of the most popular, having amassed in excess of a million views. however, as part of a wider viral campaign, all the videos turned into an online pandemic, with football fans around the world embedding and sharing. 

BBC

Originally intended as an April-fools TV ad, the BBC cleverly seeded this video of unusual penguins online. The result was a flurry of user-sharing, generating hundreds of thousands of views within only a few days. 

Diesel (NSFW)

The fashion brand's infamous SFW XXX video needs no real introduction. The video originally ran for 24 hours online in celebration of Diesel's anniversary and was quickly rooted across the internet.

The campaign is a brilliant example of how to create attention, but without too much controversy or breaking regulations... although it raised debate as to what's acceptable, and what isn't. To date, it's had over 5m unique views. 

Nike

The sporting giant pulls out all the stops with its visual ads... Such as Take it to the Next Level and Good vs. Evil, but it’s the Ronaldinho: Touch of Gold video that went crazy online. The original seems to have been taken offline due to a copyright dispute, but it had over 20m views and can still be found elsewhere. 

What did I miss? What other great examples of big-brand virals are out there? Leave a link in the comments section below and I'll try and get them posted online. 

Great submission from KerryatDell  

Suggestion from Peter... 

Jake Hird

Published 16 November, 2009 by Jake Hird

Jake Hird is Econsultancy Australia's Director of Research and Education. Follow him on Twitter and Google+, connect with him on LinkedIn or see what he's keeping an eye on via diigo

126 more posts from this author

Comments (8)

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Stefan Waldeck

Interesting topic. In epidemiology reproduction rate is a measure how contagious a disease is. If the reproduction rate is smaller than one, it will not be epidemic. The same goes for marketing. All viral efforts on the Internet will die within x number of generations.

In other words - it's very hard to start viral marketing, with only a small number of recipients in the target group. This is why viral seeding is needed.

My guess is these campaigns had support not only by great creative ideas and good producers, but also by PR and viral seeding when launching. 

about 7 years ago

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Qui

Great post!  Thanks for the insight and the picks, i've never seen the Honda one and i'm absolutely amazed.  Your own post inspired one of ours, check it out when you can.  THanks

about 7 years ago

Jake Hird

Jake Hird, Director of Research and Education at Econsultancy

@Bart - This looks suspiciously like a TV advert that's made its way onto the internet. Can you point me towards any online stats? I had a look around and it only appears to have been viewed around 250k on YouTube, although I'm not sure where else it might have been rooted online...

@Stefan - Yes, very true. Some of the videos I selected were supported offline, others were seeded prior to a multi-channel launch. I'll be *trying* to look at this in the follow-up blog post

@Qui - No problem, glad you found it useful

about 7 years ago

Jake Hird

Jake Hird, Director of Research and Education at Econsultancy

@KerryatDell Hi Kerry, this has now been added. Good spot, I've never seen this one before... 

about 7 years ago

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pick your shoes

My guess is these campaigns had support not only by great creative ideas and good producers, but also by PR and viral seeding when launching.

about 7 years ago

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peter

I'm very surprised no one has mentioned the infamous Agent provocateur featuring Kylie Minogue or is it not considered viral because of it's original intention being aimed at the silver screen? Or is it just to old to be remembered (2001)? It has been around so long I'm not sure which youtube video was the original, 300k on one, 50k on another, 170k on yet another one, not to mention the guardian and other news outlets showing their own embedded copies. Here is a google search instead: http://bit.ly/81coQm

about 7 years ago

Jake Hird

Jake Hird, Director of Research and Education at Econsultancy

@Peter Good call... I've now added this in. 

about 7 years ago

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Tommi Fisher

That's what happened on my show last week:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3UMEAhpns0

almost 7 years ago

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