5 Creative Advertising Campaigns That Went Viral and Why

The illustration of viral marketing which shows a hand holding a magnet coming out of a computer screen that attracts likes and impressions of internet users.

In the world of marketing, the significance of creativity is often the catalyst that inspires a successful advertising campaign. These innovative campaigns are the ones that capture people’s attention, encourage participation and discussion and leave a lasting impression. The story has the ability to make us laugh, cry and even change our perspective, on a brand or a product. In this blog post, we will take a close look at five advertising campaigns which not only went viral status but also explore what made them remarkably impactful.

1. Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?”

Tom Dickson, the host of the "Blendtec, Will It Blend?" show, is holding two phones that are ready to be crushed in the blenders.
Image source: bluleadz.com

Blendtec, the blender manufacturer revolutionized the simple concept of blending with their: “Will It Blend?” marketing campaign. They took an idea and elevated it to an entirely new level. By showcasing the power of their product through blending a range of items, including iPhones, watches and even golf balls. Blendtec managed to create a marketing strategy that was both humorous and audacious. The jaw-dropping effect of watching objects being crushed actually made it highly shareable. This brilliantly simple campaign, by Blendtec served as a reminder that sometimes the straightforward ideas are the ones that leave lasting impressions.

2. Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches”

The infographic of Dove's campaign: "Real Beauty Sketches" with the KPIs on multiple channels.
Image source: clios.com

The objective of Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign wasn’t just to promote product sales. Rather, it had the purpose of promoting self-esteem and positive self-image. The advertisement showcased an experiment that revealed the difference, between how people perceive themselves and how others see them. This emotional ad resonated with millions of viewers emphasizing the importance of embracing our flaws and recognizing our beauty.

3. Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”

The photo campaign shows a man riding a horse and holding the product of Old Spice.
Image source: dailybrand.co.zw

Old Spice’s effort in rebranding itself by incorporating humour and absurdity into its image. Their campaign, called “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like ” introduced the Old Spice Guy who quickly became the icon of the brand. This unique and playful approach not only sparked conversations, about the product but also attracted a higher number of customers. It demonstrated the impact of humour in revitalizing a brand’s image.

4. Nike’s “Dream Crazy” with Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick, the face of Nike's "Dream Crazy" campaign
Image source: danieleckler.com

Nike took a bold step by launching a new marketing campaign with a tweet that said, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” featuring Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback who has become known for his activism in social justice.

According to a Breal.TV report, the advert generated over $43m worth of media exposure for the brand within 24 hours of airing. It goes without saying that not everyone was pleased with the campaign. Critics expressed disapproval of the brand’s support of Kaepernick by setting fire to Nike products and using hashtags like #JustBurnIt and #BoyCottNike.

Nike remained determined. A year later, the brand unveiled a billboard featuring Kaepernick’s face and the quote: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” The billboard eventually won the Outdoor Grand Prix at Cannes Lions. ‘Dream Crazy’ was a success because it provoked an emotional response.

5. Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke”

The Coca-Cola "Share a Coke" campaign displays bottles labelled with Kylie and Luke's names.

The “Share a Coke” campaign of Coca-Cola was an excellent example of personalized marketing. They encouraged customers to find and share their own personalized Coca-Cola by printing popular names on the cans and bottles of the product. Customers were encouraged to become brand ambassadors which also promoted the image of the brand- that is all about spreading happiness.

Why These Campaigns Went Viral:

  1. Appealing to Emotions: A significant factor, in the success of these campaigns was the ability to evoke responses from viewers whether through laughter, tears or contemplation of social issues.
  2. Unexpected Surprises: The campaigns utilized unexpected elements that caught viewers by surprise leaving a lasting impact and making them more memorable.
  3. Encouraging Social Sharing: One common strategy across all these campaigns was their emphasis on encouraging people to share them with others. This resulted in the campaigns reaching an audience than initially anticipated.
  4. Maintaining Brand Consistency: Each campaign maintained an alignment, with the brand’s message, values or identity. This ensured that the campaigns felt authentic and resonated with the targeted audience.

These 5 innovative advertising campaigns are examples of how creativity, emotion and relatability play roles in captivating audiences and generating viral content. By studying and drawing inspiration from these campaigns, marketers can develop their advertising strategy. These campaigns also serve to remind us that creativity in storytelling is very powerful to touch people’s hearts, and minds and encourage them to share the message.

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