Why Your Campaign Won’t Go Viral

I was reading The Viral Marketing Cheat Sheet from KISSmetrics, which turns out to be not a bad guide to viral campaigns. Analyzing as I read, I came to the graph of the top ten viral campaigns of 2010, and noticed that the list consists of generally well-known brands. Ones who can afford to drop some coin on a campaign that doesn’t adhere to an age-old formula, and have it flop. They can afford to experiment.

What about the rest of us, the smaller brands with less name recognition? When those brands spend money, they want some assurance of return. They want something tried-and-true, and don’t want to pay the cost of experimentation. As a result, it’s pretty hard to hit it out of the park. It just doesn’t happen.

Simple Rules: Creating Viral Anythings

Aside

There’s a simple rule about rules for creating viral anything, whether it’s viral video or tweets or photos or whatnot. The rule is this: anyone who tells you how to do it in a step-by-step way is just blowing smoke. If they could do it that easily, they wouldn’t be talking to you about it, they’d be off using their pixie dust to command obscene amounts of consulting fees — and there’s no way they’d give away the secret sauce for free.

Classic Advertising: DDB & Volkswagen

DDB Volkswagon Lemon Advertisement If you listen to Terry O’Reilly‘s Age of Persuasion on CBC radio, you will have heard about the famous Volkswagen ad campaign by DDB in the 1960s, as this is one of Terry’s all-time favorite campaigns. It remains a classic advertising campaign to this day.

Volkswagen signed with DDB in 1959, appointing them to handle their account in the USA. Some say Bill Bernbach‘s resulting campaign for the Vokswagen Beetle permanently changed the face of advertising as it handed a whole string of awards. Today, it’s even the subject of a book.

Cheesy Advertising Fail

Take a good look at this ad and tell me there’s nothing creepy about it. Seriously? That kid looks just a little possessed, which distracts you from the woman’s abnormally long fingers and the fact that the bread in the ad is “98% delicious!!”

Really? 98%? I’m wondering what the other 2% tastes like, and if that’s better than the competition.

But really, the look on that kid’s face is deeply disturbing. I’ll never look at grilled cheese the same way again.