Viral marketing campaigns are either memorable or instantly forgettable.  What defines the success or failure of a viral marketing campaign?  In short, it is the ability of a campaign to go viral, to grow in momentum and get the message out quickly.  If you want your marketing campaign to go viral, get some inspiration from these guys…

1. Hotmail

Hotmail is generally credited with being the genesis of viral marketing. It all started in 1996. Hotmail was a free, web-based email service – freeing up users to access email from anywhere, anytime – and you could hold multiple email accounts. Each time a user sent an e-mail through a Hotmail account, a tagline was added at the bottom, promoting Hotmail with a link to sign up.

2. Night Drive

Night Drive is a South African horror/thriller film, released in February 2011. To publicise the launch of the movie, the movie’s production company posted a controversial ‘Body Parts for Sale’ trailer on YouTube and a thread on Twitter. The movie’s contentious subject material – the use of human body parts in traditional medicine – caused a massive outcry amongst the South African population. The viral campaign may have crossed the line in terms of acceptability in the minds of many consumers, but it did get the production company spots on TV and radio, achieving what it set out to achieve – grabbing as many headlines as possible, in a short amount of time.

3. OK Go’s Album Release – Oh No

American Indie rock band Ok Go was relatively unknown until they released a video clip of their single, Here it Goes Again, from their new album, Oh No, on YouTube. The choreography in the video clip was fresh, funky and funny, and shot the band to fame, virtually overnight. The music video was not released in mainstream format; it was exclusively a viral distribution, demonstrating the power of new media.

Old Spice – The Man your Man Could Smell Like

Let’s face it, Old Spice has been the butt of a few jokes, and is considered somewhat of a cheesy brand. In Old Spice’s new YouTube campaign, the brand worked the cheese – poking fun at stereotypes, and including women, who have great buying potential, in their target audience. The short clip is funny and refreshing, with good old fashioned eye candy to get the viewer’s attention.

5. The Dove Evolution

Dove went the thought-provoking route, with the Dove Evolution campaign. It went viral quickly, and is still watched today, because of its powerful message.  This YouTube video clip makes use of strong Dove branding – few would forget for whom the clip is produced. The novel concept featured ordinary women; the message being that all women can look like supermodels, if they, too, have a team of beauticians and a Photoshop artist to hand. There is a commanding call-to-action at the end of the clip which no woman could resist: Click to help the world’s self esteem.

6. Quicksilver Dynamite Surfing

Quicksilver promoted their brand to a specific target audience with a video clip of young, hoody-surfers throwing dynamite into a river to create waves they could surf. Although professionally produced, the clip looked home-made, and features a cool backing track. The company even passed up Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI), in favour of actually bombing the water with dynamite for an authentic feel. An original concept, punting Quicksilver’s Original Thinking campaign.

7. Tourism Queensland’s The Best Job in the World

A first-of-its kind job advertisement, Tourism Queensland’s Best Job in the World video clip was so successful that their server crashed under the flood of responses for job seekers seeking to land a well-remunerated job as caretaker of Hamilton Island at the Great Barrier Reef.