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6 Successful Viral Marketing Campaign Examples

Viral Marketing Campaign Examples

Viral marketing is one of the most desired, yet least understood aspects of traditional advertising. Since the rise of the internet and in particular YouTube, viral marketing has been the goal of businesses of all sizes around the world.

However, planning a viral marketing campaign and actually realizing the results are often two different things. This is because viral marketing relies on several factors to succeed, not all of which are in the control of the business that initiates the campaign.

A good example is the video “Gangnam Style”, which became the hit of 2012. The music video was the very first to ever break 1 billion views and it created a worldwide phenomenon. This happened despite the music artist Psy being little known outside the Korean Pop scene for a number of reasons. The “Gangnam Style” video was funny, had an incessant beat and seemed the perfect song to raise people’s spirits around the world at the time. Timing played a crucial role in the success of “Gangnam Style”

Achieving the same results with viral marketing also means combining the right elements and striking when the timing is right. What follows are some excellent examples of viral marketing successes whose effects can be studied and copied.

Viral Videos

Videos that have gone viral are the most obvious and common example of viral marketing techniques. Arguably one of the best viral marketing videos ever created was the Dollar Shave Club, which benefits from being hilarious and the very first video to ever reach 1 million views. The Dollar Shave Club helped pave the way for many other viral videos that used humor and creative story telling to get their point across.

However, not all viral videos are humorous. One of the best recent examples was used by GoPro, a company that produces HD cameras that are very small and highly versatile. A kitten that was rescued from a burning house was resuscitated by a fireman. The entire video was shot on a GoPro and demonstrated the versatility of the camera while showing an extremely heartwarming and touching scene.


This is an example of “guerilla” marketing where a company pulls a stunt that garners a great deal of attention because it either directly or indirectly applies to a belief about the competition. In the case of WePay, the stunt they pulled on PayPal which was the center of their marketing efforts was brilliant and very cost effective to execute.

Over the years, PayPal had developed the reputation of freezing the accounts of those who used their services. For those who pulled a large, if not their entire income from PayPal, this act of freezing their account and not allowing them to withdraw their money. It was a tactic that enraged a great many people and was very well known.

WePay responded by leaving a 600 lb. block of ice in front a PayPal conference, which slyly indicated how PayPal would “freeze” the accounts of their members. The stunt was initially covered on TechCrunch, but soon expanded as word got out and the mainstream press began covering the incident.

WePay’s viral marketing stunt was a great example of recognizing people’s beliefs and generating a great amount of coverage for very little in terms of budget.


The reimaging of the classic horror film “Carrie” was propelled by one of the most successful viral marketing efforts. A few weeks before the movie opened, a video created by a marketing team featured a coffee shop where an angry women appeared to demonstrate telekinetic powers. The result was a video that garnered over 47 million views.

The success of this marketing campaign was linked to 1999’s huge hit “The Blair Witch Project” which focused on creating a realistic experience for the viewer. While the film “Carrie” was a modest hit, the viral video was the key in alerting people to its presence.

Diamond Candles

This candle company used a very old tactic to help expand and sell their product. They understood that the vast majority of their customers were women, Diamond Candles decided to get women talking about their product by including a ring in each candle. These were not cheap, dime-store rings, but good, solid rings of value. Plus, an actual diamond ring worth up to $5,000 was in a few of the candles sold as well.

The result was astounding as their product leaped upwards in sales as women around the country talked about the rings. In one year the company sold $1 million worth of candles.


It may seem like the very subject of blenders could never go viral. Yet Blendtec managed to creatively find a way as they launched a video series called, “Will It Blend?” using a variety of well known items that either survived or were destroyed by their blenders.

The viral series accomplished two goals, it was very funny which drew a lot of attention and the blenders were demonstrated to be quite tough and durable. After all, if it can chew an airsoft pistol to pieces, then their blenders could certainly handle any type of fruit or vegetable.

Burger King

One of the most impressive viral strategies ever pulled off on the internet occurred when Burger King created the famous “Subversive Chicken” website. This simple, yet outstandingly clever website allowed visitors to command a guy dressed up in a chicken suit to do what they wanted. This was to demonstrate that at Burger King, you really can have things your way.

This unique interactive marketing campaign has been duplicated by other companies as well, most notably Chevrolet, and remains a classic example of how to directly engage viewers and draw attention to their website.

These are just a few of the many viral marketing campaigns that have achieved positive results, If there is anything shared by these very diverse examples, it is that getting people to talk about the subject matter is the centerpiece of the viral marketing strategy. For the foreseeable future, the viral marketing campaign remains a powerful tool that can be inexpensive to produce, yet offer amazing results.

Guide to Viral Content Marketing

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