The Viral Formula – what works?
February 20, 2009 8 Comments
Viral campaigns are still the flavour of the month (and year) because clients have the perception that they are FREE or low cost. This may be true for the media component, but any viral campaigns that has a high pass-on effect still needs to be built on a great idea (and with that usually comes a high production cost). Viral campaigns must be stand out ideas for them to gain momentum. Not only do they need to be great ideas, but they must be nurtured. Nurtured to seed the idea out there and ensure that as many people see it as possible.
When I was working at Wunderman, my Creative Director (Jon-Paul Jacques) and I came up with a formula that best predicts the success of viral campaigns:
Viral = (PCF)2, where
- P = Personal – using your name or personal details in the viral campaign (examples of this are: CSI: NY launch campaign and Mini Have a word)
- P = Perverse – the politically correct way for saying porn (an example of this is: Paris Hilton burger launch)
- C = Cool – anything you would be happy to forward on to your friends because you will be seen as finding things first (examples of this are: Mentos and Pepsi experiment, VW Golf and Hotmail launch)
- C = Carnage – this builds on shows like Australia’s Funniest Home Videos. People love watching others hurt themselves.
- F = Funny – most funny viral have been publish on YouTube (examples of this are: Trojan Games and Calton’s Big Ad)
- F = Freaky – anything that makes you question what you have seen or turns your stomach a little (an example of this is: CSI: NY launch)
A viral success depends on the creative idea, but if it has one or more of the following it is more likely to be successful.
Here are some interesting articles on viral:
- BL Ochman wrote about the viral basics, what makes it a success and otherwise in ‘The formula for successful viral campaigns. NOT!’
- Six Principles of Viral Marketing post on Web Marketing Today
- David Armano wrote a great article and illustrated viral marketing through a ripple diagram (see below)
The things to remember about viral:
- Must be a great idea
- Viral doesn’t necessarily mean free
- Nurture the campaign to get it out there.
Written by Dominique Hind