Key success factors for a viral marketing campaign

Below I am outlining six factors that can help construct a successful viral campaign and some relevant video examples that help illustrate the role of these factors.

Of course, Virality is not an exact science (otherwise it wouldn’t be so valuable once achieved), so the following is to be taken more as a starting point/guide than as a recipe. The overarching principle that an advertiser should ask themselves is: Why would anyone care to pass this on? It’s true the subject of this post has been long approached. But it was a good excuse to add some cool videos!

1. A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away – STORYTELLING

Whatever you are trying to communicate, it has to be wrapped around a powerful narrative. It needs a plot: a beginning, a middle and an end.

The below example is one of 8 short films by BMW which featured well known hollywood actors and directors, great storytelling (and high class production).

They were distributed online between 2001 and 2002 and in four months reached 11 million views.


2. You had me at hello – EMOTION

Despite what many may have us believe, most of our decisions are still governed by emotions. Be it humour, tenderness or fear: create an emotional connection through your viral. Move people in a certain direction and they shall be moved to pass on your message. Below a campaign for a Spanish NGO Accion contra el Hambre called “Sharing experiment”. In a very simple manner it conveys emotion around the subject of Famine. It has reached half a million views in two weeks under a very reduced budget.


3. Cheaper by the Dozen – MAKE SEQUELS

If you found the right formula, and you are able to maintain the momentum and originality without wearing the viral out, keep going! The challenge here will be to keep the content’s original freshness. Knowing when to stop can be a virtue.

The Old Spice campaign won the Cyber Grand Prix at Cannes (the campaign included personalised Responses from the main character and was a viral hit). Below a recently launched a follow up campaign that has also had success where a new contender challenged the Old Spice Guy for his title…



If your content is worth sharing, make it easy for viewers to do so. Receptivity of messages are more effective if delivered from a friend so building bridges from content to social networks will increase receptivity and virality.

The below Blendtec example has now developed into a successful viral franchise “Will it Blend” (since 2006) and one of their key points was to link with Facebook and Twitter



Consumers are marketing savvy. They have seen and heard almost everything and can spot a lie. Be authentic as much as you can and you shall be rewarded.

Real people in real situations are a good way to provide authentic content that people will share. Below a T-Mobile campaign with a “Money for Nothing” theme and a happy ending.



We have a saying in Spain: “Good and brief is twice as good”. Most people have short attention spans (if you made it this far into the post you may be an exception).

The following is a recent ad for the UK brand Weetabix. A minute of intense Teddy bear dubstepping madness to end this blog post!

Thanks for reading, take care amigos.


(post ended to the tune of  God’s Comic by Elvis Costello)

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