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Viral adverts: special breed of awesome

Posted by: Howie2.0


I’m sure everyone has seen at least one marketing campaign that has gone viral, spread like wild-fire across social networking sites and other channels by the web 2.0’s baby – sharing.

seen this? if not, watch it then continue reading...

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In a web of interconnectivity you might assume that every advertisement that hits the online river will flush through various channels at rapid speeds – but that is not necessarily so. Viral campaigns are a special breed of salesman that combines an ignition point (the starter that grabs attention), a ventriloquist, a magician and a seducer all in one go.

The ignition point is the first aspect that grabs attention – it has to be different from the myriad of content we see every day, and creative.

The ventriloquist part is where the campaign will speak to you but you have no idea that you’re being sold to, you forget that you’re actually watching an advertisement because you’re so focused on the awe[someness] of the entertainment – a key factor some companies forget. 

The magician part is pulling the sell out of the hat right at the end and by that stage you’re enchanted by the whole thing, you want to see it again and then you actively get friends to see it.

A viral marketing campaign will need to sell itself once and then its result should get viewers to continue their marketing at a rapid rate by sharing the advert across social media.

The seducer aspect is when you get sold without knowing it – because the advert seems to provoke emotion, the product/service will by association be expected to get the same reaction....or at least be remembered as connected to each other.

Ola Films director, Amy Allais, said in a Daily Maverick article that advertising should be entertainment but to create a viral effect is not easy. Agencies need to think out the box and “create a commercial which is culturally cool or genius, relevant, hilarious, or which smartly communicates what it means to live in this crazy country called South Africa.”

Allais creates adverts that people enjoy sharing with others or which are so entertaining that people assume if they like it, their friends by virtue of similarities in humour will enjoy it too.

Allais is the brain behind Vodacom’s “Daddy Cool”, “Power to you” and “Single ladies” which have been viral campaigns that provoke the “have you seen...? No!? Well...let me show you” and so goes the sharing from one-to-another or one-to-many.

These campaigns need to jolt an emotion of some kind: anger, anxiety and awe are by far the most common feelings a person has when they share content with others according to a forthcoming study (what makes content go viral? Awe, angst and a-holes). Two assistant professors at the Warton School at the University of Pennsylvania studied 7000 articles in The New York Times to find out what led an article to be the “most emailed” and the three A’s were the answer.

One of the reasons that people share content online is because they relate to it on some level, they know what it feels like to do or say the things that are said in the advert or they can imagine it. When someone acts like a fool or as Chris Menning said, “a reader’s sympathy for social awkwardness could create an empathetic connection that prompted users to share content online.”

The article explains further that low-arousal emotions like sadness or contentment do not lead people to share content, but high-arousal emotions like anger, excitement or amusement does.

Viral adverts work because they're unique and tell a compelling story, they sometimes come in a series, the more recent and AWESOME adverts are interactive (see below)

Here is a list of awesome campaigns that went viral:

Unique and compelling

Vodacom – Power to You

Vodecom – Daddycool

Vodacom – Single Ladies

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Desperados – the Breakthrough

World cup 2010 South Africa Heineken Commercial

Evian Roller babies


Many adverts and brands are recognised because they are part of a series of adverts which contain similar themes or characters, in this way once people have seen the first advert and enjoyed it, it’s more than likely they will enjoy the second and the third – so they look out for it.

Old Spice – the man your man could smell like

Savanna Dry Adverts - peanuts or Bars a Joke


These are the new ‘cool’ kids in town – the interactive adverts, the ones that pull the reader out of their read-only slumber and get to actually click the advert changing elements of it – they are SO AWESOME! I admittedly am one of the nerds that shares these links like crazy because I am entertained and in awe to say the very least.

The Desperado experience (interactive)THIS ONE ROCKS MY WORLD but im not saying a word – check it out for yourself on YouTube (this piece of magic cannot be embedded)

Blend your own adventure here – you actually click on ingredients that the guy in the advert will blend

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Street fighter – play games online in the advert

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Last thoughts

How is this article for sharing content? Lol... I came across some of these adverts and felt that if I enjoyed it, some of my friends would and when they re-shared the content I had shared to them – I figured a lot more people would enjoy it, so here are the links open on a digital platform to be enjoyed by many.


Let me know if you enjoyed the adverts!

Comments (2)Add Comment
Pumelela Nqelenga
written by Pumelela Nqelenga, August 30, 2011
The awesomeness is what makes you want to buy the product. Infotainment has always made the view stick to the screen, long enough to be sold to the brand. Oh don't forget the Nando's series which have a political stance. Nice one Lauren. I really enjoyed this post.
written by Howie2.0, August 31, 2011
Thanks Pumelela! Yeah those Nandos ads are awesome!! If you come across any other cool ads - post some links here smilies/wink.gif

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