Viral Video Campaigns: 7 Fantastic Case Studies to Learn From
Although ‘it’s gone viral’ is a line that every marketing team longs to hear in their office, it’s not a common occurrence.
Stats from Stanford University suggest that only one per cent of all online content goes viral.
Research shows you’ve got a better chance of going viral if you deliver your content in video form.
Not all videos are made equal.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most sensational viral video campaigns of both the past and present to see what the secret sauce to their success might be.
A bit of background.
Viral campaign marketing in a nutshell
So what counts as a viral video campaign?
The jury is actually still out on that one.
In an analysis of dozens of different opinions and studies, Forbes writer Robert Wynne concluded:
“If your friend in the next cubicle posts a video on YouTube and it spreads to 100,000 people in four hours, that’s probably viral.”
The advantages and disadvantages of viral marketing
We’ll keep this brief:
Advantages of viral marketing
- A better bottom line – after the Greggs video mentioned below was released, the company’s shares hit an all time high and annual sales broke the billion pound barrier for the first time
- Exposure to new demographics and audiences
- Better brand loyalty – because sharing videos is an interactive activity, so it helps potential customers feel more connected to the brand.
Disadvantages of viral marketing
- Lack of control: once a video goes viral, the brand that made it has no control over how people respond to it and has no power to retract it if the message is received the wrong way
- Effort: because there’s no silver bullet when it comes to trying to get a video to go viral, marketing departments can end up putting a lot of effort in for little return
7 sensational viral video campaigns you can learn from
One of the top viral marketing campaigns of 2019 has to be the video in which Greggs introduced its new vegan sausage roll to the world.
The film parodied the revelatory techy tone of an iPhone commercial and it garnered five million views on social media within 10 days of its launch.
What exactly did this video do right?
It was short. Lasting just 37 seconds, it was a quick watch, freeing up viewers’ time to go on to share it.
It was humorous. A study by The New York Times Insight Group found that one of the main reasons people share content online is to enlighten and entertain valued people. And humour is always enlightening and entertaining.
At the end of 2017, a CarMax video clocked up more than 400,000 views on YouTube alone.
How did they do it?
They embraced social listening and humour.
Before the video was made, CarMax had seen another video made by a filmmaker in order to sell his girlfriend’s beaten-up Honda Accord.
In CarMax’s own video, it made the film maker a market-price offer for the car and then continued to offer him money for other things featured in the video such as an old mug, a coffee machine and his girlfriend’s threadbare jumper.
The overall value of the offer?
Range Rover’s Evoque Speedbump Stunt video was named the viral video of 2018.
Here’s the deal:
For filming, the Range Rover team set up a huge speed bump in the middle of a South London street and they filmed the reactions of real-life motorists who encountered the bump.
At the end of the video, the footage revealed how a Range Rover could get over the bump when no other car could.
The secret ingredient to Range Rover’s success?
The filmmakers didn’t follow the traditional storytelling arc that begins with rising tension and a climax and ends in a resolution.
The production crew used the emerging story arc, starting the video with suspense and maintaining that suspense through to the end.
Although Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches video was created way back in 2013, it’s still listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most viewed video ad of all time.
It’s been watched more than 124 million times in more than 110 countries around the world.
Well, in addition to the emotional aspect, the makers of this video had a support plan.
The company used PR strategies to ensure the video was picked up by key media channels such as Mashable, Huffington Post and the Today Show before it released the video to the world.
Love is a Gift
At Christmas 2018, a video called Love is a Gift by filmmaker Phil Beastall attracted six million Facebook views in a matter of days.
The footage showed a man listening to the final tape in a series of cassettes that his deceased mum had left for him to open every Christmas Day after she died.
Some viewers said the video was better than that year’s John Lewis advert and called for the department store to hire Beastall to create the brand’s 2019 video.
The bottom line?
What this video did perfectly was tap into viewers’ emotions.
In his book Contagious: Why Things Catch on John Berger explained that the most sharable content tended to evoke strong emotions in viewers.
Made for just £50, the film shows that viral video production doesn’t have to cost the earth.
Dumb Ways to Die
The animated Dumb Ways to Die video is the world’s most shared public service announcement and it’s a great example of how viral marketing campaign videos don’t need to feature real world locations or actors.
Made for Melbourne Trains the video, which showed animated characters dying in dumb ways, racked up 50 million views on YouTube and was retweeted more than 100,000 times on twitter.
In addition to featuring humour, the video succeeded thanks to a catchy music soundtrack that charted on iTunes in 28 countries.
In early 2018 The Sun ran the headline:
The three-minute video starred celebrities from sport and music alongside London youths who were trying to make it big in certain sporting fields.
A lot of money was ploughed into the making of this video.
That’s not the only reason it succeeded.
It featured humour – the producers cast Gareth Southgate as God – and it included a strong emotional element – showcasing stories of young Londoners fighting to fulfil their dreams.
Making a piece of marketing content that goes viral is no small order.
Video tends to be more sharable and therefore more likely to go viral than other forms of content.
The world’s most successful viral video campaigns do have a few things in common. They all:
- Feature humour
- Milk the zeitgeist or are topical
- Include an emotional element
- Tell a story
- Often feature a memorable soundtrack
Despite the fact that some brands ensure their videos go viral by enlisting major celebrities, the success of videos made for as little as £50 shows they don’t have to blow a business’ budget.