February 25th, 2020

Viral marketing often brings us instant thoughts of funny videos, photos, or silly mishaps that “just so happened” to have someone recording.

This type of viral marketing can spread like wildfire - almost overnight it can receive millions of views and a never-ending supply of comments. When accidental viral content is released that includes a business, no matter if it’s positive or negative, the release starts a ticking clock with a small window for businesses to respond or capitalize on the promotion. Below are examples of businesses that have successfully ridden the wave of viral success, some of which were in direct response to surprise viral moments while others were created their own.

Here are some viral moments you might remember:

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Fun fact, the ALS Association did not invent this challenge, but they sure capitalized on it! Initially, the challenge was to partake in the Ice Bucket Challenge or donate - leaving an option to not donate...which wasn’t particularly helpful from ALS’s point of view. They quickly restructured the challenge to get the public to engage as well as donate. Their quick reaction has paid off as even celebrities have participated in the challenge!

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Blue or Gold - #TheDress
Anyone remember this phenomenon? The brand Roman Originals presented a simple ask to their audience by posting a somewhat aged looking photograph of a dress. They asked the simple question, “gold and white or blue and black?” The dress was actually blue and black but the post itself set off a wildfire - everyone from professionals chiming in on the scientific reasoning to average individuals who’d have friendly debates with their friends. During its heyday, you could see this topic everywhere! So what did the company do? They started quick productions to create the dress in both colorways so people could quite literally wear the version they saw online - brilliant! Sales skyrocketed.

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The World Series “Beer Guy"
Recently you may have caught the “Beer Guy” moment at The World Series. Just last month, a man named Jeff Adams had two Bud Lights in his hands when a foul ball came his way. Instead of dropping the beers he took the ball directly to the chest. Less than an hour later Bud Light tweeted that they wanted to find the man and by the next morning not only had they done that, they had also created t-shirts and ads. 48 hours later Adams was the star of a new national ad campaign.

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Old Spice – The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
Old Spice may be one of our favorite comeback brands, after all, most twenty-somethings may not even realize that their grandparents have been using their product for decades. They have ridden the viral marketing train for years with their brilliant campaign - The Man Your Man Could Smell Like. One noteworthy example was with Isaiah Mustafa’s brilliant portrayal, Old Spice brought the character to the social world with Old Spice Man Responses. The brand uploaded 185 videos to YouTube over two days, responding to comments on various social networks with the same quirky wit featured in the commercials. They had millions of impressions and views over the course of this viral lifecycle!

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Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club seemed to have been an overnight sensation. Rightfully so, as they took a common pet peeve, buying men’s razors, and addressed it in a hilarious fashion. This example is great inspiration for businesses that may be on a small budget as these videos really aren’t too intriguing but the script is quite brilliant. It didn’t take a huge production team or budget but achieved wild overnight success. Also note, that they were able to use profanity effectively in marketing, not an easy feat!

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Viral marketing is a tough nut to crack but we suggest that you leave some marketing budget aside for when viral moments may come knocking at your door. Being able to capitalize on the trend quickly – and never missing a beat is crucial in the marketing process.