Viral marketing campaigns are one of the best strategies for promotion. To get people talking, sharing, tagging and commenting on specific brands or products featured in a campaign, not only by the target audience but even by the public at large, is what differentiates regular from “viral marketing.”
There are several strategies to try and achieve viral status, including focusing on a diverse and inclusive approach, as demonstrated by PR & marketing company Ketchum.
Other strategies focus on shock value or bold and aggressive strategies, but these could take a turn for the worst and backfire, leading to bad press for the brand and the agency. These could be categorized as “amplified campaigns.”
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Organic Campaigns Versus Amplified Campaigns
The best possible outcome for any marketing campaign is to achieve viral status and word of mouth on a bigger scale — tweets, shares, comments, posts and other social media interactions, even the possibility of expanding into mainstream medium.
Initiatives that achieve a viral status can usually be divided into organic and amplified campaigns.
Marketing campaigns are aimed at reaching as many people as possible, although most marketers will be satisfied simply by connecting with their target audiences.
Then there are noteworthy marketing initiatives that surpass their natural target audience and become the talk of the town. These are referred to as organic campaigns. When word of mouth occurs naturally, sometimes due to unforeseen variables.
On the other hand, amplified campaigns are initiatives specifically designed with the aim of going viral.
They often involve strategies like shock value, celebrity endorsements or a particularly funny gag, reinforced by a strong presence in social media and sponsored influencers.
No one can really guarantee the desired outcome though, regardless of how “amplified” the campaign is.
Viral Marketing While Promoting Creativity and Diversity
Regardless of campaigns being organic or amplified, they can achieve a viral status while retaining creativity and diversity.
A good example of that is an Adobe campaign by Ketchum, promoting Adobe’s Love the Journey project, which was distinguished by its message and execution focusing on how parents can be a big deterrent to minority children seeking a career on creative industries.
According to Indy Selvarajah, Global CCO at Ketchum, the main takeaway for this campaign was “the impact it had.”
“Not in terms of coverage or hitting KPI’s, but the difference it made in real people’s lives. It showed us it’s only the beginning of a job that needs to be done.”
Elaborating on the project and their strategy, Selvarajah told us that they had a “pretty open brief from Adobe.” He noted that it was their first big creative opportunity for Adobe and that they “wanted to do something a bit different to what they’d previously been used to.”
“We found that young people from minority backgrounds only represent 4.4% of the creative industry,” Selvarajah added. “And whilst there are many common reasons why; like hiring bias and poor career advice – we dug a bit deeper and found another, that often goes unspoken… parents. The reality is a lot of them would prefer their children to be a doctor, lawyer or work in finance. So, we created a whole campaign around rapper and role model Little Simz… and her mum. To inspire young creatives and show that when your parents have your back, anything is possible.”
Six Kids + an Empty Room = A Fun Viral Marketing Campaign
Another great strategy for viral marketing is subversion — and that’s precisely what Ketchum went with for Lego’s Build a World of Play campaign.
“Whilst everyone is focusing on portraying negative stories with scaremongering at the heart, our goal was to do things a bit differently.”
“So instead of showing a world without play, we showed how it’s everywhere, even in the most unexpected of places,” Selvarajah told Spotlight.
Enter a grey room with only a chair, table and roll of paper.
Indeed, it sounds like the “Most Boring Room Ever,” but not for the six kids involved in the project! The children had fun using their imagination, curiosity and creativity, a subversion that catapulted the campaign to viral status.
“This campaign was one of the rare ones where the initial concept stayed the same the whole way through,” according to Selvarajah. “The end product was almost a direct replica of the first mock-up, the purity of thought was fought for every step of the way. The clients were great collaborators, they showed a huge amount of trust in us, especially as it was the first big creative campaign we’d done for them. Feedback was open, honest and timely – the most important things to ensure creative sees the light of day.”
Viral Marketing and Humanizing Your Campaign
There’s no guarantee a campaign will go viral, even if it was designed for that purpose. But with what we’ve seen thus far, it seems people tend to gravitate to what they can relate to.
True stories with heart, clear messaging and a good dose of creativity.
There are indeed other ways for campaigns to go viral but humanizing them seems like a great way to go about it, especially looking at Ketchum’s examples.