Thursday, September 17, 2009

Viral infection

By now I’m sure you’ve all been Kanye’d (and if you haven’t then check out this out: and it got me thinking about viral campaigns and how often we get clients asking us to plan one for them.

‘Creating’ a great viral campaign is about as easy as planning to win Lotto. In fact, planning to win Lotto might even be easier – all you have to do is get the correct numbers together on one line in the right week.

Creating a great viral campaign has many more factors that need to align in order to get the desired result.

First, you need a good idea. Actually, you need a great idea which also has enough relevance and appeal to capture someone’s imagination. But not just anyone – it needs to be someone who has the time and inclination to forward it on to their friends. And you need to hope that ‘someone’ has an extensive list of friends who also have the time and inclination to forward it on to their extensive list of friends. And so on, and so on.

And finally you need to have a client who understands that a) you only get one shot at a viral campaign; b) the internet community may take your viral campaign and turn it into something completely different and not aligned with your brand and c) whether it ‘works’ or not is in the lap of the Gods. Oh and d) no, you cannot accurately measure results.

There have been some cracking viral campaigns – like this oldy-but-a-goody from 42below which evolved from an award winning radio ad. Or the Cadbury’s Gorilla TVC which over the last 2 years has been mashed up and remade thousands of times by people from all over the world:

But I’m pretty sure that for every great viral campaign out there, there are thousands that never made it beyond the email address book of the account director at the creative agency.

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