The Viral Formula – what works?

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:

Viral marketing influence spheres

Viral marketing influence spheres

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


8 Responses to The Viral Formula – what works?

  1. D says:

    Hi Dominique –

    I read your viral formula on Mediapost some years ago and have referenced it ever since.


  2. Did you know my contribution to the subject…

    Hi to all marketing passionated

  3. Ray Shingler says:

    Hello Dominique,

    I am pulling together a business plan on our kids website and came across your posts, very helpful. Is there a formula for figuring out the reach of kids if we seed a sight with 1,000 kids? What would the potential reach of more users equate too?

  4. Pingback: Well, This Isn’t Rocket Science « The Global Virus

  5. Pingback: Well, This Isn’t Rocket Science. Rocket Science is Kind of Predictable. « The Global Virus

  6. jjanezhang says:

    Hi Dominique, I’ve quoted your article for a blog I’ve written for school. I hope you don’t mind. I thought your formula was really neat and would a cool thing to reference. If you don’t feel comfortable with me using your content, please do let me know and I’ll take it down. Thank you!

  7. web design says:

    Thanks for the inspiration. I was searching to get the artistic juices abounding already again. It seems in art or architecture we tend to get “writers block” of sorts. Inspirational pieces, such as in your column are what I charge from time to time.

  8. I imagine may well to be a convenient writer but you truly always put your personality in your posts. feasible to have admirable content material but if it isn’t composed properly folks won’t continue to study it. Jenny

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