Posts Tagged ‘Viral Marketing’


Viral Efforts from Switzerland

November 10, 2009

Having to complete my MSc Marketing dissertation combined with striving for perfection has unfortunately meant I have had no time left for blogging during the past few months. However, my hard work has paid off and I am very pleased with my achievements, the result and all the valuable knowledge I have gained. In my dissertation research I came across a variety of viral marketing cases and I would like to discuss some of them further here and in my next posts.

Mary Woodbridge – Mammut Sports Group AG

The Swiss brand for technical outwear Mammut has had some impressive global headlines back in 2005/2006 with their campaign called “Mary Woodbridge”. The campaign was made by the Swiss marketing agency Spillmann / Felser / Leo Burnett who came up with the story of Mary Woodbridge in December 2005. The campaign featured an 85-year old lady from Greenfield, UK, who planned an expedition to mount Mount Everest with her dachshund after having bought a Mammut winter jacket of such superior quality that unexpectedly, the elderly lady felt empowered to master any challenge. They created an interactive webpage showing her expedition training, introducing her dog and expedition partner “Daisy”, training sessions, a guestbook and movies (see here). As well as her age Mary’s story hits controversy as she planed to use a direct route from the base camp to the top, rather than using the suggested route offering four additional intermediate camps to rest. In addition, she wanted to dispense with the use of Sherpas as well as the use of an oxygen mask, as there are no such masks for her dog Daisy.

Woodbridge's wishful thinking

Woodbridge's wishful thinking

Having created a very insightful webpage, which seems to show that Mary Woodbridge had thought through everything and was more or less ready to go the only missing point seemed to be funding. In order to cover the financial side of her plans, “she” contacted major mountain equipment companies, international media, climbing magazines to request sponsorship for her and Daisy’s trip. A number of ads are placed in mountaineering magazines and internet forums were consulted for useful tips and advice. A great way to create buzz within the climbing and mountaineering scene and the social networking space. Quickly climbers, alpinists and bloggers discovered Mary, her story and webpage and soon after she hit the headlines. Once the story took off, media coverage and online discussions on forums, discussion boards and social networking sites were mounting. Globally, 250 newspapers, magazines and TV broadcasts reported about Mary, wishing her the best of luck for her undertaking. For some examples please see the list below:

Woodbridge Press Coverage

Woodbridge Press Coverage

Once the buzz reached it’s peak the story was revealed  by Mammut stepping out of the dark with the slogan:

“Equipment this good can cause a loss of common sense”.

Initially, clips like the one above were shown without Mammut’s branding at the end. Bringing Mary Woodbridge to life was the start of Mammut’s new marketing communications strategy that intended to promote their core value of mountaineering safety of best Swiss quality. Their intention was to remind sportsmen that the ever improving Mammut gear offering increased safety, does not justify unnecessary risk-taking. Follow up advertisements of Mammut built on the Mary Woodbridge story and the above introduced slogan, please see below.

Overly confident skier in Mammut gear is pissing bikers off...

Overly confident skier in Mammut gear is annoying bikers...

Moreover, point of sale and magazine advertisements were supporting the Woodbridge campain, which helpet to increase the buzz as well as to promote the campaign’s message (if you want to download Mammut’s promotional brochure with Mary’s story please click here). Another case, showing that the combination of online and offline marketing efforts has a positive outcome on a campaign’s objectives.

The publicity campaign was a huge success in terms of awareness creation and international brand disclosure and was also awarded with numerous awards such as the Swiss advertising film award (EDI Award), the Swiss Marketing Trophy, the Crossmedia Award, the Epica Award, the ADC in Switzerland, ADC bronze in Germany and silver at the New York Festival.

Leaves – Zimtstern GmbH

Staying within the area of Swiss technical outwear, I came across a clip by Zimtstern, a Swiss snowboard and street clothing brand. The clip was directed by Marco Lutz,  a Swiss film director, who has been responsible for a variety of memorable cult snowboard movies, which have been a worldwide success and produced by Stefan Bircher. Matching to this winter’s collection by Zimtstern, which is following the theme of “wildlife” the idea around “leaves” came to life. Hence, the viewer is surprised with classy snowboarding on a nice sunny day in fall, on leaves and as fas as the eye can see – no sign of snow!

From a viral marketing perspective, a viral video requires certain key characteristics in order to appeal to a wide audience. In my research about “The Strategic Use of Viral Marketing amongst Social Networks” I identified the following key content criteria: entertaining, compelling, creative, relevant to target audience, adding value to viewer, share worthy, engaging, simple, interesting, honest, shocking/surprising, short, unique and new. Watching the leaves spot I am very keen to say: this spot, if seeded successfully, has got all the potential to become a huge viral success within the snow sports industry and reward Zimtstern in terms of an increased brand awareness. It has only been two months and the clip has already received considerable coverage from bloggers, forums, magazines, social networking sites and is placed on several video sharing sites. Additionally, the clip is free to download on, which supports the ease of viral spread.

And because it has been so nice, please see below the making of the spot “leaves” by junior film maker Pierre Castillo Bernad.


CWS – say no to dirt!

April 18, 2009

cws-logoViral marketing, as already discussed in previous blog entries enjoys increased popularity and respect amongst marketers. Various campaigns have emerged out of nowhere and pleased online users with creative, funny and somehow unique content. One of them came from the German organisation “Complete Washroom Soulutions” CWS two years ago in 2007 and is, in my opinion, well worthy to be mentioned.

CWS chose the way of celebrity endorsement. They enlisted supermodel and actress Milla Jovovich for their video promotion to add a little bit of style, coolness and sex appeal. The scene shows her in a posh nightclub in a toilet stall, kneeing on the floor and preparing to snort a line of the drug cocaine from a toilet seat. Unfortunately for her, the toilet seat’s automated sanitary mechanism gets activated and the seat starts to rotate in order to clean itself. Milla keeps trying to get her nose full, but she is too slow and her initial shocked face reveals a massive scream that makes the other ladies who are in the bathroom wonder… the viewer is left a few seconds and then the message “say no to dirt” appears. But see it yourself, if you have not seen it yet.

Not only a very appropriate slogan for a toilet solutions maker, but also a great way to highlight a situation that is a well known problem for many bars and clubs. They advertise their product by offering a solution to a common “problem” (a clean seat for everyone at any time) and also make a statement about drug abuse. In my view they can be given some credit for a small contribution of corporate social responsibility. With 1,091,485 views on social networking site Youtube there must have been certain success through awareness creation and increased web traffic for CWS. “Online you are what you publish” (says David Meerman Scott). In that context, CWS achieved to create a fresh and modern image for themselves with that particular clip. Moreover, raised public awareness of a B2B brand can influence some kind of a pull effect, which generates demand from the end-user up the supply chain. Whilst some may argue its actual value to the company, I think that having your brand name out there is certainly a positive aspect that can have a variety of effects. Brand awareness creation, which involves brand recall and brand recognition, supports strategic brand management when building name recognition for your organisation, service or product.

There may be a connection between an earlier anti-drug campaign that is shown on video sharing site Dailymotion. Unfortunately, I struggle to find any closer information about that one, but here is the video. (I’ll have to warn you, it is certainly not a nice scene to watch and blood is involved… so children under 16 should probably not watch it)

The CWS video promotion is considered as excellent by various experts such as David Meerman-Scott or Marketingprofs, because it shows that really every brand can go viral, no matter whether B2B or B2C as well as no matter what product type. Even a product that may be rather considered as “boring” and “unexciting” such as a toilet can create buzz and become memorable through its marketing. It does not always need to be a highly fancy consumer product, but the way it is presented must be somehow special. Granfield from Marketingmag reports that brand advertisement can become remarkable by telling a story (if you have a few spare minutes, read his article: “How to get the world’s attention without being remarkable” here, I think it is brilliant!) This matches with what I referred to in one of my previous blog entries: create content that engages and excites your target audience. Nevertheless, the product or service must be of a certain value and quality – marketing can do lots, but it’s certainly no magician that turns “rubbish” into profit. Well… it actually did work with some brands, but that is my personal opinion and I do not want to cause any offence by mentioning names. 😉

In the end viral marketing could be referred to as “online gossip”. As long as you create something that makes people pass it on, remember and discuss it you have definitely secured “your foot in the door”. People love stories, otherwise things like books, TV and cinemas would not really work. I am sure nearly every one of us is guilty of having been involved in some form of “gossip”. Now, just apply the gossip to marketing, think how you can make the people you want to get interested in your story and get started!


How to Succeed with Viral Marketing?

March 5, 2009

As already discussed in my previous article viral marketing can be beneficial for large organisations such as Cadbury’s or Nike and also for individuals like the inspirational comedian Judson Laipply or small businesses like BlendTec “will it blend?” on the B2C level.

All of those “brands” have something in common: they succeeded in putting an excellent idea into practice. Viral marketing has the power to spreads a message like a biological virus by taking advantage of existing resources and thus keeping the delivery costs at a minimal level. Due to the population’s terrific rate of internet adoption, billions of individuals all over the planet are within reach by only the click of a button – a speed that cannot be topped by any other communication means.

Now, what is the key to success then?

Key to Glory

Key to Success

Three and a half years ago successful entrepreneur Seth Godin discussed factors in his blog that make an idea viral. He concludes that the visual effect is a key element of a message and also highlights the importance of creating ideas that catch people’s interest, make them excited and wanting to tell others – ideally, forwarding the message to all they know. Marketing speaker David Meerman Scott highlights the importance of creating content that is important to the target audience, exclusive and solving the customer’s problems, rather than promoting a brand’s strengths or features. Basically, the principle is quiet simple. Ask yourself, what sort of story would motivate you to tell it to as many people you know? Reviewing additional academic literature, my conclusion about factors that increase the success of a viral message could be as follows:

  • Decide which objective should be fulfilled (image improvement, brand awareness, greater market share, sales increase, etc.) Even though that may be considered as an old-fashioned view – the application of the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) approach can serve as a useful guideline.
  • Identify target segments, research their interests, latest online trends and networks they are actively involved.
  • Create something outstanding, unique and special
  • Be creative and surprise your audience
  • By telling some kind of story, that will give you the opportunity to continue with your next campaign (given the condition that the previous one was well received)
  • Identify online opinion leaders that are relevant to your campaign and make them give you feedback, generate their interest (brand representatives, opinion leaders or even, get your friends involved and excited – as soon you can infuse someone with your excitement, half of the job is done)
  • Spread your message amongst strategically selected networks by applying appropriate tools
  • Support your campaign by credible facts
  • Try and involve your advocates into NPD
  • Don’t try to control the effect – you can’t
  • Be prepared for the unforeseen!

Same as word-of-mouth viral efforts are not “a sure bet”. There is no guarantee that by getting all mentioned factors above right it will help to get an idea accepted by the target audience, but it certainly assists by getting closer to the campaigns’ objectives.

What about return on investment?

ROI factors for viral campaigns are not easily assessable. Well-placed campaigns that are calculated and provocative can unleash a wave of long-lasting buzz. Viral Marketing is great tool with the side effect of digital word-of-mouth information distribution. Launched successfully, a viral campaign has the ability to improve brand awareness, image creation, corporate identity creation, web presence, etc. In addition, there is the opportunity for an immediate linkage to the corporate web page and all that can also lead to increased sales.

Increased Sales

Increased Sales

I can identify two major types of viral marketing campaigns; the intended and the unintended one. Given the rising popularity of viral marketing and the immense amount of creativity out there it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate whether it was a tactical move with commercial objectives or not. Moreover there are the intended campaigns that are tailored to look like non corporate ones with the aim to get some buzz. Nevertheless, once such information is revealed negative publicity is not far, because people feel punked. But bear in mind: negative publicity may also be a strategy for media coverage!


New Media for Viral Marketing

February 26, 2009

Viral marketing can be defined as a technique that encourages people to pass along a marketing message with the aim to create a potentially exponential growth in the visibility of the message and generates word-of-mouth marketing. This method relies on snowball system distribution that is characterised by a high pass-along rate between individuals. The overall growth is strongly linked to the amount of recipients and the percentage of those who forward the message to a large number of friends.

New media deliver a variety of great technology for viral marketing, given the immense speed a message can be delivered and spread around the globe.  Social networks and communities are an especially welcome target for such campaigns, due to their user concentration and information exchange rates.

In the area of B2C this strategy is often applied by start-up businesses in order to create awareness and build their corporate image. However, given the high degree of competition and creativity out there it is very difficult to succeed with such a campaign.

A prime example for the successful viral marketing application is the free web mail service Hotmail, now provided and owned by Microsoft. Each time a message is sent, Hotmail promotes its corporate commercials in the e-mail notes of the user.

Another way of viral marketing was provided by Nike in 2006. They broadcast the football legend Ronaldiño trying on a new pair of trainers and delivering an absolutely fantastic showcase of football tricks. At this time the clip has 27,496,830 views on YouTube and despite how old the video is, there are still discussions going on about it. In my case, the latest post for that video was 32 seconds ago.


Blogstorm present a top 10 ten list of viral marketing campaigns where the Nike clip takes the leading position.

Cadbury’s are another organisation that are very successful with their campaigns for “Diary Milk” chocolates which listed as made by “A Glass and a Half Full Productions“. In reality Cadbury’s success is due to London based agency Fallon, who have done an exceptionally great job in marketing the brand. I suppose we all know the clip in which a gorilla hits the drums with such incredible passion with Phil Colins’ song In the Air Tonight (this song has been deleted form the video due to  Copyright reasons by the way. Nevertheless, the clip is now available in various other remix versions, implemented by creative non-corporate individuals). The currently new clip of Cadbury’s shows two children with freaky eyebrow moves. Initially broadcasted on TV the clip now enjoys rapid distribution on the World Wide Web and currently has 2,282,533 views.


Not only businesses know the true promise of viral marketing, but also individuals use it in order to increase their success. The British op singer Lily Allen produced a spoof of the Cadbury’s adverts that was shown on Channel 4. It is also posted on YouTube and has currently 587,106 views since the 9th of February 2009 (see video).

The inspirational comedian Judson Laipply hit the mark with promoting his show case “The Evolution of Dance”, an incredible achievement. With reference to Readwriteweb in 2007 his video was the most viewed one on YouTube and in 2008 it still reached the second position. Right now it lists 114,755,890 views. In his context, new media and social networks helped him to make his career worldwide.