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Is Viral Marketing Effective?
Turner Broadcasting created quite a stir in Boston last week with their advertising campaign for a new show on the Cartoon Network. Traffic jams and police involvement were the result of the reportedly “suspicious packages” planted throughout the city on bridges, subways and other high traffic areas.
The packages were actually magnetic lights that were placed throughout 10 cities across the nation, including New York and L.A. although Boston seemed to be the only place they caused a stir.
I don’t think that Turner execs planned to cause so many problems with their advertising campaign, but I would imagine that the resulting national news coverage was far more than they had expected from this successful ruse. Viral marketing at its best.
For those of you aren’t familiar with the term, viral marketing is a means of advertising in an off-beat manner with the intention of generating media coverage and massive word-of-mouth distribution and a minimal cost. And that’s exactly what happened for Cartoon Network. A bit on the extreme side, maybe, but effective nonetheless.
Another avenue that many companies are taking advantage of is video-viral marketing through YouTube. On average, over 100 million videos are watched and 65,000 clips uploaded a day on YouTube. Most are home videos, but many are now advertisements and movie trailers. The appeal is the low-budget, soft sell video that doesn’t shove a product down a viewer’s throat.
Some other examples of viral advertising of past and present:
• The Blair Witch Project — admit it, you thought it was real home video just like the rest of us… and you went to see it because of that, didn’t you?
•Burger King’s Subservient Chicken — having chicken “your way” by using this interactive website to make the guy in the chicken suit do whatever you can think of.
• Borat — Did it take you awhile to figure out he wasn’t real?
So, is viral marketing effective? Absolutely! All you have to do is appeal to people’s curiosity and you’re well on your way. There are clearly some boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed, but, if your business has reached an advertising plateau, viral marketing is well worth considering.
• Wikipedia.com: Viral Marketing
• Inc.com: Contagious Commercials
• Fresh Inc. – Inc.com Weblog: Jan. 31 – A Viral Campaign Bombs
• CNN.com: Two held after ad campaign triggers Boston bomb scare
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