2011 was a great year for viral marketing case studies. The entertainment bar is getting ever-higher, making viral marketing briefs among the toughest that any creative agency can receive. For a viral to really travel it needs the combination of a brilliant creative idea, the right timing for its audience and the right seeding. That’s why we collated together a few of our favourite viral marketing case studies from this year which clearly checked all the boxes. Grab a coffee, leave the browser open, sit back, relax, and enjoy…
Viral marketing case study: Skittles Touch: Cat | 5m views
In the age of touchscreen and interactivity, Skittles used an endearingly old-school method of engaging (and ultimately creeping out) the viewer with this series of ‘Touch’ ads on its YouTube channel. The best of the bunch was this ‘cat’ commercial, which has so far notched up 5 million views.
Wrigley has long abandoned traditional advertising for their Skittles brand, and have instead decided to create one increasingly bizarre ad after another. While their earlier attempts have not really set the digital world on fire, this new campaign “Touch The Rainbow” has turned out to be an online success. This Skittles ad follows in the footsteps of Burger King’s “King” character and “Subservient Chicken” and Tippex’s “A hunter shoots a bear“. The Skittles “Touch The Rainbow” campaign was made especially for online advertising by BBDO, Toronto, Canada. They have gotten interactive in the physical sense by making your finger a part of the action. A ‘click for more videos’ call to action at the end of the ad drives the viewer to a Skittles YouTube channel with more humourous ‘Touch’ videos. Again this drives viewer engagement through strong content, and creates lasting, positive brand recall.
Viral marketing case study: The T-Mobile Royal Wedding | 20m views
The sight of Prince William leapfrogging Prince Harry, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams getting his groove on and other royals dancing their way down the aisle was enough to create one of the most successful virals of the year.
The video was conceived by the mobile carrier brand T-Mobile and has gained well over 20 million views since being uploaded to YouTube on April 15. Set to East 17’s “House of Love”. It features a cast of royal look-a-likes, the video took its inspiration from the real-life wedding video and YouTube hit “Jill and Kevin’s Wedding Entrance Dance,” in which a couple and their wedding party danced down the aisle. That video attracted upwards of 64 million views. To date it the T-Mobile video has received more than 20 million views – that’s not so far off the number who watched the big day on television in the UK.
Viral marketing case study: Dead Island: Official Announcement Trailer | 8m Views
In a year of high-profile game releases, this trailer for the relatively unknown game Dead Island was by far the most talked about console ad this year. With an innovative ‘reverse story telling’ premise, the trailer charts the tragic fate of a family caught up in a Zombie outbreak on a tropical paradise (warning: trailer below contains gory violence).
Axis Animation, based in Glasgow, United Kingdom, produced the spot for Polish firm Techland, revealing the spot on February 16th. Unlike the typical video game ad, which usually focuses on the action and intensity of the gameplay, the Dead Island trailer tells the emotional story of a family destroyed. Slowed down and played in reverse, the trailer slowly reveals how one of the young zombies became the creature she is. We watch a man throw her from a window only to find out later that this man was her father. We watch her attack her father only to see she had been a victim of the same mindless violence. Rather than simply another zombie, the trailer transforms a strangely relatable and sympathetic character. The trailer generated 8 million views on Youtube, and tens of thousands of likes on Axis Animation’s Facebook page.
Viral marketing case study: The Force: Volkswagen Commercial |45m views
This Volkswagen ad originally aired during the February 2011 Super Bowl broadcast, featuring a little boy dressed as “Star Wars” villain Darth Vader. He tries to use The Force to get his dog to rise, open the dryer, move a sandwich across the counter, and all in vain. Finally, dad comes home in the Passat.
Junior Darth starts with the Jedi gesticulations to get the car to do something. Dad uses remote start from inside the house to fire up the ignition. His son is shocked. He got the force to work. He thinks he started the car with Jedi mind tricks. The ad combines humor with feel-good cutesiness and pop culture, and was one of the biggest virals of the year, generating a huge 45 million views on Youtube.
Viral marketing case study: T-Mobile Angry Birds Live | 10m views
This promotional video from T-Mobile highlighted the phenomenally popular “Angry Birds” mobile video games.
Purportedly actual video of a promotional event held in Barcelona, Spain in May, the clip shows Angry Birds players at a kiosk in a public square which broadcasts their gameplay on a giant screen, followed by the eruption of large plastic bird heads into the square. The video attracted over 10 million views, and emphasised a key aspect of T-mobile offering in a fun and innovative way, while piggy-backing on the phenomenon of Angry Birds.
Viral marketing case study: Tipp- Ex: A Hunter Shoots a Bear | 26m views
Initially launched in 2010, this ad for European correction fluid Tipp-Ex continued its success into the new year. To coincide with the back-to-school period, Tipp-ex, promoted its whiteout Pocket Mouse. The ad features two obnoxious hunters confronted by a bear, and lets the viewer choose their own ending by typing a verb into the ‘tipp-exed area’.
Whatever the choice is, the hunter grabs the Tipp-Ex Pocket Mouse from the banner next to the video, whites out the word « shoots » and for the first time ever on Youtube, invites viewers to choose the end of the story by writing their own verbs directly in the title of the video. For each action, there’s a video response. The campaign is signed : « White and Rewrite » . The video has so far racked up over 26 million views, with the average number of verbs tipped in by user coming in at 15.
Viral marketing case study: Carlsberg stunts with bikers in cinema | 10m views
This viral video for Carlsberg beer shows what are purportedly real-life “innocent” couples entering a Belgian movie theater that happens to be filled with 148 mean-looking bikers. While most couples leave, the ones brave enough to take their seats are rewarded with a burst of applause and a toast with bottles of Carlsberg beer as the message, “That calls for a Carlsberg” comes up on the cinema screen.
Brussels-based ad agency Duval Guillaume Modem came up with the stunt, which was staged in a cinema in Belgium. Carlsberg introduced its new strapline at the beginning of the year to promote itself as a beer that stands for tradition, quality and great taste.
Viral marketing case study: Smartwater: The Jennifer Anniston Sex Tape | 10m views
With over ten millions views, the Smartwater video or better titled ‘Jennifer Anniston Sex Tape’ has been a smash hit. A humorous self-parody, it includes all the attributes of the ultimate viral; cute animals, dancing babies, and a beautiful woman (Jennifer Anniston) acting seductively.
The real reason the video has been successful is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a clever campaign that’s able to parody successful viral videos while at the same time weaving together the same ingredients (humour, sex, celebrity) into its own.
Viral marketing case study: Kolaveri Di | 17m views
The song ‘Kolaveri Di’ from Indian actor Dhanush’s upcoming movie 3 has become one of the internet viral sensations of the year. The Tanglish song (a mix of Tamil and English) with nonsensical lyrics has already notched up over 17 million views on YouTube since its launch.
The song is performed by Tamil star Dhanush for his film “3”, which is directed by his wife Aishwayra Dhanush. ‘Kolaveri Di’ translates as ‘rage’ in Tamil, and the song reflects on a broken love affair. The composer of the song, 18-year-old Anirudh, is unable to explain the phenomenon it has become, saying: “It’s probably because of the funny, broken English and some amount of musicality, but I cannot really explain beyond a point.” The unprecedented success can also be attributed to its appeal to India’s youth market, and Sony Music Entertainment India’s plan to release the single track album.
Viral marketing case study: Who Killed Deon? |250 comments a day
This video campaign used Facebook to campaign against knife crime. Set up the Metropolitan Police, this campaign highlighted Joint Enterprise a little-known law that means anyone knowingly involved in a murder can be charged with murder. To show how even small actions lead to a murder charge, agency Lab created ‘Who Killed Deon?’, a murder mystery Facebook page, inviting viewers to hunt the killer.
Viewers interacted by guessing which of a group of suspects ‘killed Deon’. Following suspects’ stories, they discovered that although only one committed the stabbing, the others played a small but significant role. Under Joint Enterprise, everyone involved in this ‘whodunit’ did it, meaning everyone is charged with murder. At its peak, the campaign achieved 250 comments a day, with an average dwell time of 8 minutes. It was liked” by 50% of viewers at its peak- 5 times the average of all Facebook campaigns. Overall, the campaign achieved an engagement level 6 times higher than the average for all Facebook campaigns.
Viral marketing case study: John Lewis Christmas Advert 2011 | 3m Views
John Lewis’s Christmas ads have become something of an annual event, and this year’s £6m commercial caused quite a stir on Twitter, pushing YouTube views up past the 3 million mark, and ensuring blanket media coverage. The ad follows the story of a little boy as he impatiently waits for Christmas Day to arrive.
Accompanied by a cover of The Smiths, Please, Please let Me Get What I Want the ad’s tear-jerking twist comes when it becomes apparent that it’s not the big pile of presents at the end of his bed that he’s been eagerly awaiting – but the simple excitement of giving his hastily wrapped gift to his mum and dad. The ad ends with the tag “For gifts you can’t wait to give”, says John Lewis. The ad spawned a number of spoofs (including a Shining parody), a sure sign of viral success.
Viral marketing case study: The Muppets – The Pig With The Froggy Tattoo Teaser Trailer | 10m + views (for all trailers)
After a 12-year break from the big screen, Disney needed to reinvigorate interest in the Muppets brand ahead of their forthcoming movie.
Throughout the year, Disney has been running spoof trailers on YouTube mimicking popular movies at the time, giving The Green Lantern, The Hangover Part 2, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Twilight, Puss in Boots, Captain America, Twilight and Paranormal Activity a muppets twist. Meanwhile, the opening trailer Green with Envy began as a generic romantic comedy, but it quickly shape shifted into a trailer for The Muppets. The Muppets marketing encompassed nearly everything in pop culture and in doing so it gained the attention of millions around the world.
Viral marketing case study: KLM: Surprise | 1m Tweets
At the end of 2010, KLM decided to give something a little extra special to its passengers waiting to board its flights – some personalised random acts of kindness.
Using information from Foursquare and Twitter, KLM identified passengers currently checked in and waiting to board KLM flights. A quick search of each person’s social media profile garnered info about their personal interests/reasons for flying. Staff then purchased appropriate gifts which they gave to passengers prior to boarding their flight. More than 40 people were presented with gifts and, being social media users, the campaign received 1m+ impressions on Twitter alone. While the stunt certainly seems time exhaustive, it was enough to generate 1m positive Tweets, while this follow up YouTube ad leaves lasting positive brand impression.
Agency viral case study parody: Jumping on the cat bandwagon
And our favourite viral of the year is the brilliant parody of lazy creative agencies relying on kittens or cats for videos in an increasingly desperate way to ride a bandwagon that sailed away long ago… If the ideas running up their flagpoles are as confused as their mixed metaphors, like a cat running in treacle, then follow this link. One to share and enjoy long into the New Year…
Agree/ Disagree with our selection? Email the editor or comment below, and we’ll compile a readers selection of the top video virals of 2011.