Shalu Wasu
Jul 30, 2010

How to create a good viral marketing campaign

Shalu Wasu, director of Digital Influence at Ogilvy PR, shares 10 viral marketing tips he uses as a guide to ensure success.

How to create a good viral marketing campaign

Without a doubt, the Old Spice guy campaign is a roaring success. (In case you were catching up on sleep after the World Cup and missed it, here is a great analysis of that campaign.) This means that it won't be long before clients to ask to replicate this campaign across industries, brands and countries.

Now would be a good time to look at these 10 viral marketing lessons that I have created for myself.

1. Be prepared for hard work.

You don't just get up one day, open your flip cam and shoot a video, thinking it's going to go viral. It takes a tremendous amount of planning and hard work, not to mention slick production values and a professional set up. The Old Spice campaign actually started as a series of TVCs, which evolved into an interactive campaign on YouTube. Wieden + Kennedy, the brains behind the Old Spice campaign, reportedly spent 11 hours making 87 30-second video replies.

2. We cannot manufacture a viral campaign to order.

Creating a viral campaign is not a science, it is a combination of science and art. What we can do is to allow an interesting idea or campaign to go viral (by doing all the right things). If it seems too forced, it probably won't work. Don't try too hard. However unromantic the notion sounds, you need to plan to allow a video go viral.

3. Does anyone care?

Take an honest look at your content and ask yourself whether it is incredibly hilarious. Is it unbelievable (but true)? Does it make you smile? Does it make you think (like Inception!)? Does it feel revolting? More importantly, do you have that itchy feeling of sharing it with friends? Run it past your buddies to make sure. This is the most important bit.

4. Originality is key.

We will surely see a bunch of 'me too' campaigns soon but it's probable that none will be as successful as the Old Spice campaign. People love to share new ideas, not those that are rehashed.

5. Do not hard sell.

The idea may be simple but it can get lost in complex PowerPoint decks and Excel sheets. Viewers will share content that entertains, not content that is pushing widgets down their throats.

6. Help it get off the ground.

Most viral campaigns don't take off overnight. They usually start with a seeding campaign on YouTube or Facebook that helps to build the momentum and drives social sharing. Mixing up the media is another good idea. There is no rule stating that a viral campaign needs to be run only on social media. The Old Spice campaign actually started out as a TVC.

7. Involve the social media guys from the get go.

Don't tell your social media guy to make the campaign viral after it has been conceptualised. The idea is to build interactivity into the campaign design, not just the execution.

8. Make it work for you beyond the buzz.

The buzz will die down. People will forget the campaign. The objective should be to ride on the campaign to build an asset that can continue to serve us long after the campaign is over. For instance, the massive Facebook community that the Old Spice campaign has built up is a long term asset that will serve the brand until long after the Old Spice campaign is forgotten.

9. Make it human.

A campaign goes viral one person at a time. Even though we measure the success in terms of millions of views, the campaign message itself has to appeal to consumers. What made the Old Spice campaign human? The fact that you could actually write to the Old Spice guy and he would respond.

10. To round it off.

Look for content out there that has the potential to go viral and then hijack it. Just like Mentos did.

Finally, does the campaign help sell more? This is what marketers are ultimately after. It needs to be as creative as it is effective. The sales of Old Spice have reportedly doubled since the campaign started.


If that has whetted your appetite, take a look at all the responses from the Old Spice guy.











...and if you are still hanging around, take a look at some of the other successful viral campaigns in the pre-Old Spice era.

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