5 Great Viral Marketing Campaigns & Why They Worked

In recent years viral marketing campaigns have been the lifeblood of what us marketers do best, with the greatest strategies catapulting its stars into the national and even international limelight.  But what does it really take for your campaign to go viral?

We take a look at five successful viral marketing campaigns and demonstrate what businesses, big and small, can learn from them.

1) “Goat 4 Sale” – Doritos

The first golden rule when creating a viral marketing campaign with a punch is to tell a great story. This simple yet effective principle was put into practice by the latest winner of Crash the Superbowl, an annual competition hosted by snack giant Doritos where one fan-made commercial is given a primetime advertising spot usually reserved for up to $1 million.

The winner’s ‘Goat 4 Sale’ video tells a slightly sinister tale and successfully promotes the brand’s fun side whilst discreetly marketing the product in hand. Crafting a video with a compelling narrative is an excellent way to get your brand the reach it deserves without shoving your products in the faces of your target audience.

2) “40% off Bubbles” – Threshers


Whilst this campaign doesn’t take on the usual multi-media viral format, it thrust the well-known wine chain into the public eye for all the right reasons. By forwarding a 40% off wine and champagne e-voucher to a select number of their customers ‘accidentally’, the brand experienced a sales meltdown.

Whilst this viral campaign was no mistake (the brand initially claimed that the voucher was released accidentally and was for supplier use only), the cocktail of scalability, secrecy and a hefty customer discount, made this campaign an overnight success meaning the voucher and brand spread like wildfire via email and social media.

3) “Mad Men Yourself” – AMC / Mad Men

The Mad Men Yourself campaign, launched on behalf of period drama series Mad Men, marked their then upcoming third season and after half a million hits in the first seven days alone, its seems AMC’s viral marketing efforts  didn’t go to waste. The show experienced record ratings in season 3 and best of all, the campaign is still a hit today!

The interactive nature of this feature allows users to create a retro version of themselves and the campaign’s instant success and longevity prove that getting the audience involved is always a great idea.

4) “1m Hits for UK Release” – Demand IT / Paranormal Activity

The cult film Paranormal Activity and their advertising partners Demand IT used the social media scene to create a buzz about the new release. The social campaign needed one million hits to launch a showing to a limited audience across a select number of areas. The lesson – creating a demand for your product and inspiring a certain urgency for your audience to know or view more is the secret to their success. Even today after too many sequels of the low-budget horror, we still admire the curiosity and appeal created by this viral strategy.

5) “Dumb Ways to Die” – Metro Trains Melbourne

Public service announcements aren’t known for their prominence on the marketing scene but this viral from Australian Metro Trains seems to have changed the face of public service for the foreseeable future. Why does it work? The video provides the perfect mixture of cuteness, catchiness and violence, which if used correctly can turn your campaign into a viral sensation.

There are a number of tactics you can use to make your viral campaign a success with viewers, from the use of emotional marketing and action sequences to creating an element of surprise or disgust, all rely on just a few factors to engage, inspire and entice an audience to want more!

This post was written by Brittany Thorley from Think Big Comms, a PR agency that specialises in ethnic communications to get brands of all sizes and backgrounds noticed.



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  1. Hi,

    I would like to know more about viral marketing and how things work in this so please keep me updated with all the new and available features.


    Praveen Jalaraddi

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