Viral video marketing case studies – the best virals of 2012

Nov 27, 2012 | Online video

2012 was another great year for viral video marketing case studies. As online ads get smarter and more engaging, viral marketing briefs are becoming the toughest that any creative agency can receive. For a viral to really travel it needs the combination of a brilliant creative idea, the right timing for its audience and the […]

2012 was another great year for viral video marketing case studies. As online ads get smarter and more engaging, viral marketing briefs are becoming the toughest that any creative agency can receive. For a viral to really travel it needs the combination of a brilliant creative idea, the right timing for its audience and the right seeding. That’s why we collated together 25 of our favourite viral marketing case studies from 2012 which clearly checked all the boxes. Grab a coffee, leave the browser open, sit back, relax, and enjoy…

Viral video case study: ‘There’s no such thing as a happy period’- Spoof Bodyform CEO responds to Facebook man’s rant

Our personal favourite of the year, Bodyform turned this ad around in days to respond to a sarcastic Facebook post- subtly sending up it’s own image in a pitch-perfect spoof that got people sharing in droves. The UK maxi-pad brand created this brilliant viral ad with a fictional CEO responding to a Facebook user, who accused the company of lying to the public. Richard Neill wrote a sarcastic comment on Bodyform’s page earlier this month poking fun at the company’s depiction of a woman’s “wonderful time of the month” in its TV ads. The spoof response – which notched up over 3million views on YouTube, 5,000 Facebook ‘likes’ and 211 comments – ends with the CEO thanking Richard for lifting the veil on their lies and exposing the truth. SCA, manufacturers of Bodyform, and the brand’s advertising agency Carat, co-ordinated the idea for the video response. The concept was scripted and filmed by Rubber Republic. The whole video was produced and published in less than a week- the project was a masterclass in turning a negative comment into a hugely positive brand impression, and getting the message across at the right time and right place in the right format.

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: The new Old Spice? Dollar Shave Club viral video gets 3m YouTube views in two weeks

This witty Old Spice-style video ad from the Dollar Shave Club shook-up the shaving industry and gave Gillette something to worry about. The start-up has attracted high-profile funding through this YouTube advert, which features CEO Michael Dubin talking about the product to camera amid an increasingly surreal cast of characters in the company’ warehouse. The video was posted on YouTube and garnered a million views and 20,000 ‘likes’ in just three days. The tone emulates the hugely successful Old Spice ads from 2010, which reinvigorated sales in the deodorant brand.
View the video below:
(Warning – the language used in the ad is not exactly suitable for work)

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Channel 4 uses new cookie law to its advantage

As the controversial EU cookie law came into effect this year, Channel 4 managed to communicate the idea of collecting user data as part of a positive brand message, with a little help from comedian Alan Carr. The ‘Viewer Promise’ email and video campaign drew upon the broadcaster’s 2011 data strategy 2011 to give viewers a more personalised experience, which helped it amass a database of 2 million viewer profiles. Each subscriber was sent an email with a message outlining the changes and a link to the video featuring Alan Carr. The humourous video explains to the viewer how how ‘in love’ Channel 4 are with them, and how it will use their personal data to deliver a better experience tailored around their likes.

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Old Spice lets users flex their ‘Muscle Music’

(3m+ views- unconfirmed)
Old Spice returned with another interactive viral video, letting viewers make music with their keyboards (via a muscle-bound American football star, naturally). The new ad stars former American football and Expendables star Terry Crews, wired up to a series of makeshift musical instruments. Each time the actor and former NFL football player flexes his muscles he makes a sound. Once the advert has finished playing, viewers are invited to create and record their own version using their keyboard, using a list of shortcuts. There is also the option for users to record and share their tracks. Old Spice has worked with online video player Vimeo to create the interactive advert. Vimeo was the only platform that could make this experience possible, according to Wieden & Kennedy, the ad agency behind the viral.

Old Spice Muscle Music from Terry Crews on Vimeo.

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: TNT’s ‘dramatic surprise’ becomes second most shared ad of all time

Back in April, this promotional video posted by television channel TNT took YouTube by storm, getting a gargantuan 23m views in just one week. The ad fast became one of the most shared videos on the website. Published on April 11, the ‘A Dramatic Surprise On a Quiet Square’ video campaign has clocked a whopping 22,626,099 views and 214,896 ‘likes’ already. TNT’s ad agency, Duval Guillame Modem, placed a large red button in the middle of a quiet square (where nothing happens, as the description of the video puts it) in a Belgian town along with a ‘push to add drama’ signage hanging near it. It then captures the reaction of a part bemused- part astounded crowd when one of them actually goes ahead and, well, pushes the button. TNT’s ad has become the second most-shared of all time, according to video research frim Unruly. The ad has been shared 3 million times, with only “The Force,” the 2011 Super Bowl ad from Volkswagen, being shared more.

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: ‘Kony 2012’ helps raise $26m after YouTube campaign

The biggest marketing viral of the year, the ‘Kony 2012’ campaign raised a huge amount of awareness about the plight of children caught up in Uganda’s conflict, and also attracted a fair share of controversy. Invisible Children, a movement seeking to end the conflict in Uganda, created the film Kony 2012 back in March. They hoped it would accelerate the arrest of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony, who has been kidnapping and abducting Uganda’s youth for nearly three decades. With more than 100 million views in six days, Kony 2012 became the most viral video in history. The video worked because it used compelling content, stayed relevant and had a simple call to action. Helping bring the San Diego charity $26.5m, according to its latest federal tax filing. Some critics complained that material presented in the video was out of date and the video’s creator, Jason Russell, was detained in the Pacific Beach neighborhood, with charges of public drunkenness and lewd behavior. Despite the controversy, no-one can deny the power of this viral marketing effort.

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Angry Birds launch into Space with NASA

Rovio teamed up with Nasa to launch Angry Birds Space, adding a new educational twist to the hugely popular game. The collaboration lead to this Nasa video, which was used as an exciting way to get people engaged with Nasa’s missions of exploration and discovery, and inspire students towards future careers in science and technology. The app became one of the most popular of the year.

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Google tests augmented reality glasses

Google revealed details of its research into augmented reality glasses back in March, and this piece of (quite literal!) future gazing sparked the imagination as to where digital technology is heading. Shot from first person, the wearer is seen taking pictures, checking the weather, getting directions, and placing a video call, all of which are controlled using voice activated icons that appear in the user’s field of vision. A sign of things to come? Apple, Microsoft, Oakley and others are working on similar projects, so watch this space…

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: World’s first Instagram menu- restaurant uses customers’ snaps to promote food

New York City’s Comodo restaurant harnessed passionate foodies by launching an Instagram menu, integrating the photo-sharing site into their dining experience. The restaurant encouraged people to Instagram pictures of the dishes with a designated hashtag, #ComodoMenu. By using the hashtag, diners saw the Latin American inspired food before ordering (or even before making a reservation) while also engaging in a distinctly modern communal activity.
Watch a video showing how the service works below:

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Lays wins over Slovak market with low budget Facebook campaign

(4 million Facebook visits)
How do you make a low budget online campaign for a brand that has awareness of 4%? This campaign for Lay’s potato chips shows how, with a little local knowledge and some creative thinking, a small budget social media campaign can make a big impression. The Pepsi-owned brand decided to create a national Facebook campaign that celebrated Slovak culture, while pushing its ‘best potatoes’ message. The campaign, called ‘A Big Thank You From America’, featured videos from Lay’s Facebook page showing US citizens enjoying the country’s national (potato-based) dish ‘Halusky’, with diners sending messages of thanks to Slovakia. The campaign was seeded across Slovakian media and blogs, and soon notched up visits of over 400,000 per week. In phase two of the campaign, the company began ‘exchanging’ Lays potato chips to Slovakia as a thank you gesture, under the strapline ‘the best potatoes for the best potatoes’. The campaign was supported by contests that invited fans to send their Halusky recepies in exchange for a box of Lays. Over the course of the campaign, the Lays Facebook page racked up over 4 million visits- quite some reach considering Slovakia has a population of 5 million.
Watch the case study video below (narrated by a talking potato, naturally).

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Comedian Louis C.K. makes $1m from own-brand video download site (and gives half away)

($1m+ dollars in online sales)
At the end of 2011, US comedian Louis C.K. cut out TV networks and video sharing sites by selling his latest comedy special online direct to fans. As a result of smart common-sense marketing and a clear, low pricing strategy, he made $1m from the venture in just 1 month (and then gave half of the revenue away). Louis C.K. recently sold on online video of his latest show Live at the Beacon Theater for $5, directly to fans. The download was straight from his site via Paypal, and totally financed by the comedian. Within 3 weeks, C.K. sold the special to about 220,000 people. He then announced that he had made a million and what he was going to do with the money. He even has a picture of his PayPal account showing the balance.
Here’s some vital stats behind the campaign:
Production Cost: $250,000
Marketing Budget: Unknown
Fan base: 200,000 minimum of paying fans and counting, unknown non-paying (maybe 5x?)
Type of Program: Event based
Website budget: $32,000

Watch the trailer here (WARNING: Language used is not safe for work):

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: C4 strikes Paralympic gold with ‘Superhuman’ online ad campaign

This summer saw Channel 4 run its ‘Superhuman’ campaign to promote the London Paralympic games. The online element of the promotion attracted more than 150,000 interactions. As part of Channel 4’s ‘Meet the Superhumans’ online Paralympics advertising campaign,Mediasyndicator, captured the attention of online audiences – with results revealing the campaign achieved over 150,000 interactions. The interactive ‘SharePod’ ad format, which was developed especially for the campaign, allowed users to learn more about their favourite athletes and effectively ‘Meet the Superhumans’. The execution gave users access to athletes’ biographies, in addition to powerful video content with the option to share across multiple social media platforms.

Channel 4 Paralympics – Meet the Superhumans from IWRF on Vimeo.

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Nestle puts GPS trackers in Kit Kat bars to deliver prizes

Nestle has launched a (slightly creepy) new promotion for its Kit Kat, Yorkie and Aero bars, embedding GPS trackers in select bars, with the promise to track down the buyer within 24 hours to deliver a £10,000 prize.The promotion called ‘We will find you’, will involve six KitKat 4 Finger, KitKat Chunky, Aero Peppermint Medium, or Yorkie bars. When a winning consumer opens the wrapper, it activates and notifies the prize team who promises to track them down within 24 hours. Like we say, very creepy… but also very cool.
Watch the promo video here:

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Coca-Cola ‘security camera’ ad gets 5m YouTube views in one month

This heart-warming video from Coca-Cola continues the beverage giant’s ‘Happiness’ brand message, turning the negative perception of security cameras into something much more positive- boosting customers perception of Coke in the process. Security cameras are often associated with traffic accidents, robberies and people throwing cats into rubbish bins. However, in this video Coke shows us how happiness can come from looking at the world a little differently. Made up of a selection of clips from surveillance cameras around the world the ad features activities like people stealing kisses, dealers of ‘potato chips’, attacks of friendship and friendly gangs. Historically, Coca-Cola has understood better than most that if you make people feel good while watching your advertising, it rubs off on your brand. The video has racked up over 5.4 million YouTube views and 44,500 ‘likes’.

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Cannes Cyber Lions winner – Nike Fuelband

Nike Fuelband is a wristband that allows its wearers to track the calories they burn not just through their workouts, but with any activity they do during the day in order to assess and improve their overall fitness through the Nike+ platform. They can also set daily goals for themselves and track their activity levels throughout the day. Data visualisations show where you were most active daily, weekly, monthly, and beyond. The device features Bluetooth synch technology so Fuel is wireless synced to the platform. The YouTube ad promoting the widget was funky, fresh, post-modern and ever-so-slightly hypnotic…

Watch the Nike+ FuelBand team talk about the inspiration behind the campaign here:

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Cannes Cyber Lions winner – Curators of Sweden


The Swedish Institute’s “Curators of Sweden” campaign, launched at the end of 2011, handed over Sweden’s national Twitter handle (@Sweden) to Sweden’s natives in order to showcase the diversity of the Swedish national character, in effect, launching “The world’s most democratic Twitter account.” Each week, a new curator was chosen to man the account, including a writer, teacher, priest and lesbian trucker. The campaign sparked controversy for featuring an irreverent young mother named Sonja Abrahamsson who expressed anti-Semitic remarks but also inspired (American) comedian Stephen Colbert petitioning to be the first non-Swede to take over the account. The campaign attracted 26,000 followers from 120 countries in six weeks, and inspired 21 countries and cities to do the same. The media coverage generated a PR value above $19,800,000.
Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Topshop live shopping fashion show gets 2 million viewers

(2 million live viewers)
Topshop attracted more than 2 million people to its live streamed fashion show at London Fashion Week on Sunday, with the retailer claiming to sell out of some lines during the broadcast. The show, streamed live on Facebook, allowed users to share their favourite looks with friends using the social network. Viewers used ‘open graph’ technology allowing them to post messages about the Topshop show, called ‘Unique’ automatically on Facebook and Twitter. The retailer trended globally on latter social networking site. Topshop reported that some items, including a printed panel dress, sold out within an hour > and that traffic to from the US, where it has just opened boutiques in Nordstrom department stores, reached a record level.
View the promo video for the event below:

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Marie Claire runs first UK video ad in print magazine

In a UK first, Marie Claire inserted a video ad on the pages of its October issue, set to play once a reader turns to page 35 and 35. The October issue of Marie Claire UK incorporated a black-and-white commercial for Dolce&Gabbana fragrance, the first UK display advert of its kind. Appearing in a limited run of a few thousand copies of the issue, a male and female model pose in a coastal scene and when the page is opened, the 45-second spot (directed by Mario Testino) automatically plays. The technology was developed by US firm Americhip, and has already been used in other publications in the U.S., Spain, and Russia. Most recently, it was used to promote Bacardi in Russian Vogue.
Watch a video demo here:

Watch the video here:

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Lego tells its story with 17-minute CGI cartoon

This 17 minute video from Lego provides a prime example of how a brand can engage users with long-form online content, rather than 30 second TV commercials. To celebrate its 80th birthday, Lego released an engaging 17-minute animated short that recounts the company’s beginnings as a carpentry business in Billund, Denmark to the global toy brand it’s become today. The video attracted over 2.3 million views and 34,000 ‘likes’ on YouTube in the first two weeks. The viral links back to the brand’s Facebook page, with generated over 2 million fans so far. The video also paves the way for a forthcoming full-length animated Lego movie, staring Morgan Freeman, set for launch in 2014.

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: P&G’s ‘Olympic Moms’ ad gets over 2m YouTube views

(10m+ views)
This year, Procter & Gamble embarked on the company’s biggest campaign in its 174 year history, using its Olympic sponsor status to push an emotive message celebrating mothers worldwide (a key demographic for the FMCG brand). P&G’s ‘Best Job’ video attracted more than 2.5m people watched the video on the main site, which has been seeded in different languages to appeal to different territories. The ad launched to coincide with the US date for Mother’s Day. The video tracks mother’s around the world on their daily lives, looking after children then proudly watching them excel in his or her sport. The ad ends with the tagline: “The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world,” before name-checking four of the FMCG firm’s household brands ( Pampers, Duracell, Tide and Gillette). P&G also has a Facebook campaign that donates $1 for every “Like” to a USOC/Team USA youth sports fund up to $100,000. The Facebook site has so far generated 78,000 likes and 98,000 mentions on the social network since its launch in April 2012.
View the video below:

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Tipp-Ex’s ‘Hunter and Bear’ return with time warp YouTube viral

In 2010, Tipp Ex’s A Hunter Shoots a Bear’ viral was one of the first (and still the best) interactive YouTube virals ever. This follow up offers a ‘timeless’ new twist on the formula, and has already racked up over 9m YouTube views in less than a month. The first campaign generated more than 50m views on YouTube, was shared 1.2 million times on Facebook and generated 220k tweets. The viral buzz created 30% more business for the brand during the back-to-school market and garnered the campaign more than 20 international awards. The question with the first episode, as with other examples of great content marketing, was how Tipp-Ex would top it next time around. It appears they may have raised the bar this time with a time-travelling adventure that contains hidden interactive surprises and stretches YouTube’s capabilities even further. The new series of 46 films centre around the Hunter and Bear celebrating their birthday party at different dates in history. Visitors can change the date after deleting the current date, 2012 (the end of the world), with a Tipp-Ex Mini Pocket Mouse Correction Tape. Some of the humorous films also offer interactive animations – there for the finding.

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Coca Cola uses mobile to send and share Coke across the globe

Coca-Cola re-imagined the classic ‘Hilltop’ commercial for a modern audience, in the digital age. Fulfilling the promise of the original ad, it allows users to connect with strangers by sending a Coke around the globe to an unsuspecting recipient, making the world feel just a little bit smaller. The ad can be experienced on mobile phone apps in Google’s AdMob network, across iOS and Android devices through AdMob rich media ads, coupled with custom-designed vending machines, viewers can buy the world a Coke, with a few taps on their mobile phones. A viewer can decide where to send a Coke by selecting one of many machines located around the world, and add a custom text message to personalise their Coke delivery. Google Translate converts these messages, breaking down the language barrier across countries. A dynamic video with Google Maps, Street View, and composite motion graphics shows the Coke’s journey from the viewer’s current location to the vending machine across the globe. Users can wait for confirmation of their Coke’s delivery, or enter an email address to be notified later.

Video case study | Mobile demo | Case study |
Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: Code Club school kids grill Internet pioneers

The founders of YouTube, Skype, Lastminute and even the world wide web face their toughest grilling yet in this humourous video from Code Club, a new UK initiative to try to get more kids learning to code. Code Club, the free after school activity that teaches children to code, is looking for some new volunteers. A crack team of young interviewers is on the case, but despite the incredibly high calibre of applicants (including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Chad Hurley and even HRH The Duke of York), they seem rather difficult to please. The video turns the idea of a start-up pitch parade on its head, giving the reigns to a panel of kids, and the job of pitching to some of the biggest successes in technology today. The ad promotes the idea that developing coding skills could help save them from technology ignorance either as future leaders themselves (doing the screening); or as would-be entrepreneurs (pitching for their lives).

Viral marketing case study

Viral video case study: The shortest ad ever- OCD ‘1 second’ videos create YouTube buzz on a $0 budget

The International OCD foundation reached tens of thousands of people with a series of one second long videos, aimed at helping viewers experience the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Rather than explaining the effects of obsessive-compulsive disorder at length, they used a 1-second text-only ad to demonstrate the frustrations people with OCD experience first hand. The ad is too short to read in one viewing so, as the title explains (and even challenges) “You may have to press play more than once …”
Watch a video explaining how agency McCann Digital created the campaign below:

Viral marketing case study

Ogilvy resorts to ‘pirate recruitment’ to get top talent

How far would you go to bring the best talent to your team? In Belgium, Ogilvy delved into murky waters by using pirate software sites to recruit cash-strapped (but ambitious) unemployed web designers. Ogilvy Brussels was looking for a new web designer with fresh ideas. They knew that unemployed web designers can’t afford the crazily expensive editing suites they need to work, and they may be tempted to download it illegally. In response, they uploaded a file supposed to provide the editing suite on many pirate sharing websites. When web designers downloaded the file, they discovered that the editing suite was not in the download. Instead, they gave them something else: a job opportunity at Ogilvy.Not only did it prevent them from becoming criminals and wasting time in the numbness of unemployment, but it also offered them a much better opportunity: a job at a leading agency.

Viral marketing case study

Stockholm ‘iPad magic’ gets 3 million views

Back in March, a YouTube video of Swedish magicians promoting Stockholm using iPads and trickery took the internet world by storm, leaving audiences baffled and event organizers beaming. “We knew the video was good, but we weren’t expecting such a huge success. We’re really happy!” Stockholm Business Region’s PR manager Maria Kylberg told The Local. The Stockholm-based organization came up with the idea, which Kylberg claims was conceived in an attempt to show a conventional message in a more playful way. Since being posted to YouTube in March, the clip has been viewed over 3m times. The shows magicians Charlie Caper and Erik Rosales baffling a small audience with trickery, sleight of hand, and seven iPads. This convention also made Scandinavian headlines after Swedish representatives placed banners and advertising with the slogan “Stockholm: The Capital of Scandinavia”, outraging Norwegians and Danes who were also at the event.

Viral marketing case study

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