Evolution of viral marketing

Evolution of viral marketing

In any discussion about viral video, someone is always going to mention the Dove Evolution campaign. A brilliant bite of video with an exceptionally simple concept and message, the Evolution campaign was hugely successful in strengthening Dove’s brand message of natural beauty and spread that message to millions of people. Unlike a few other recent viral videos, it doesn’t lie to the audience in an attempt to pass off a fiction as reality (like Witchery’s Man in the Jacket), doesn’t use nudity to appeal to our voyeuristic tendencies (as with the Believe in Destiny viral that also attempted to fake reality) and doesn’t avoid relevance to the product altogether (as with the Stride Gum Where the Hell is Matt campaign).

Just in case you missed it, here it is.

What is worth commenting on with this campaign is that it maximises every aspect; the format used, the reflection of the brand and the high impact delivery that encourages people to spread the content far and wide. Too often, viral campaigns are created that seem to occur by accident rather than by design or come with no clear understanding of what they hope to achieve.

Does watching Matt dance in various places around the world convince a viewer to buy Stride gum? Sure, it raises brand awareness but says nothing about that brand other than they are willing to sponsor someone who has already created an idea to place their logo on the end of his videos.

Does creating a fake viral purporting to be a true story say anything other than the brand is struggling to have a real idea and doesn’t care about misleading their customers?

Viral marketing is currently a popular buzz topic in marketing agencies. Who wouldn’t want to stretch their advertising dollars further by enlisting the viewing public to spread their content to all their friends and beyond? With a successful viral campaign capable of reaching millions upon milions of people, those numbers would encourage any marketing exec or company CEO to wonder whether a two minute funny video couldn’t provide what years of expensive magazine advertising has failed to deliver.

So what questions should a business ask before deciding to drag YouTube into their marketing conversations?

  • What is the goal of the campaign? Brand awareness? Promotion of a specific product? Do you want viewers to respond in a particular way – for example; be prompted to visit a related website?
  • What is the best medium for the campaign? Is the creative approach you’ve decided upon best expressed in video or another format? Some highly successful campaigns have used other social media sites like Twitter or have adopted audio or standard webpage content to be shared and distributed. Viral doesn’t have to be video.
  • Will your chosen campaign reflect the brand appropriately? Withchery suffered a negative backlash after their fake viral campaign. Stride Gum say nothing about their brand with their Matt… campaign. There is no point doing a viral campaign just to be funny or to attract eyeballs if viewers will leaave with an indifferent or negative perception of your brand afterwards.

Dove’s Evolution campaign wins on all these fronts. It was a well considered, well executed and well communicated campaign. So much so, that parodies are now to be found online. Very rarely does advertising become so successful that it can be effectively parodied without explanation, relying on an intimate knowledge of the original to provide the gag.

Viral marketing is not just about distributing your content in a fixed form, but encouraging users to play with it, remix, repackage, resend. By tapping into the incredible online resources and creativity of the general public, you can further extend your viral reach while building a comunity of people interacting directly with your brand’s content. Enjoy.