Have you ever started killing time on your phone, browsing sites like Youtube, Facebook, or Reddit only to stumble across a funny video? Then that video leads you to another, then another, and another and suddenly you look at the time and realized you just spent 4 hours watching stupid videos and your day has been wasted? Of course, you have. Videos have a way of catching our attention in five-minute intervals that are easy to rack up time and zone out – but are they an effective marketing tool? We think so! Here are examples of successful viral marketing.
Not long ago, the now-beloved deodorant Old Spice used to be seen as a crappy scent stick meant for hillbillies and men in their 60s. Then one day, this mentality completely changed. Why? Because of two very handsome men: Terry Crews and Isaiah Mustafa. One of the actors (Terry) was meant to engage men while the other (Isaiah) was created to gain women’s attention – And it worked! Both actors were featured in funny commercials while still reaching those target demographics.
Terry’s character was a “mans-man”. Strong, aggressive, built like a brick house and oozing masculinity; something a lot of men admire. Terry’s commercials told consumers: you can be me if you use old Spice. Isaiah’s character took a different direction, he was handsome and smooth and everything you’d read in the back cover of a cheap romance novel. His sell was to women “Your man can be like me if he wears Old Spice” (to the point where he was referred to as “The Man Your Man Can Smell Like”. Not only did these ads do a great job of selling their respected perspectives, but they went viral. Just looking up Youtube videos of older Old Spice commercials I can see one that has 19 million views, and another older ad at 56 million views!
By making fun of the typical tropes done by marketing agencies, Old Spice was able to not only effectively fall into those tropes, but also generate views. These views translate into new customers, and old customers were willing to try them again because they were just. so. funny.
Dollar Shave Club
Here’s another company that slammed humor out of the park. While they do some wacky comedy and smatter their add with naughty words (and a guy in a bear costume for some reason), they still make sure you know all the important information. In an ad, the owner of Dollar Shave Club walks through the building and wacky things happen, but he’s talking directly to the audience, explaining the product, the quality of the product. The fact that the ad was a little wacky got people’s attention, but the heart of the company was still there. It talked of their goodwill in creating jobs and saving you money. Right now, their most popular ad on Youtube has 26 million views. If even a quarter of people watching the ad bought a subscription, that’s 6 million potential new customers.
Admittedly, these brands pooled a lot of money into active marketing and most likely had a large amount to spend to get their audience. While not all of us have millions to spend on advertising, there is another cheaper alternative: influencers. While you can always be your own influencer, sometimes it’s easier to just pay someone to do it. While influencers are a dime a dozen, finding good ones with a million views can be relatively easy. Sometimes giving the influencer some free merchandise is enough incentive for them to review your product and promote it. Sometimes offering them some extra income is needed. Look at the views per video for certain influencers. If someone has 10,000 followers, that’s not worth much, but someone with 100,000? That might be worth giving a free product or two out. Having their endorsement can move you closer to hitting more followers for yourself or at least some interest in your brand.
Another great way to go viral is to act like you aren’t selling anything at all. Take the video above, for example. Instead of outright saying a video is an advertisement for Bud Light, they instead do something that puts Budlight in the forefront of the video. They smartly put the focus of one of the two most beloved pairings of all time: a man with his dog. The individual plays a simple tune off-screen that makes the totally adorable golden “smile” and bob his head. While this just seems like a cute video, having the can of ice-cold Bud Light featured on-screen without saying anything makes people take notice of it. While the creator claims it is not a Bud Light ad – and maybe it wasn’t intentionally meant to be originally – half the comments on the video can’t help but talk about Budlight – and with 14 million views it’s hard not to pay attention to guerilla marketing catching peoples eyes without having to pay a dime.
While not all of us have millions to put into videos, even the most innocuous and cheap-looking ad can sometimes catch the eyes of any lookie-lou and take your brand from a nobody to the talk of the internet. Sometimes investing the money can turnaround a huge following.
Written by: Lauren Anderson