Analyzing the Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns

Seema Banerjee Seema Banerjee
Mar 13, 2021 11 min read
Analyzing the Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns

Nowadays, we spend most of our time using internet. We see a lot of advertisements. One day, I was spending some time in the virtual world with Facebook today, suddenly there was this offer to buy some interesting household goods. They seemed reasonably priced too! Then after a few minutes, there was another advert for something else, that seemed useful as well. I was in a dilemma!

What should I get? Has something like this happened to you as well?

I get caught many times. But the good thing is most times my common sense reasserts itself in a short while and I tend to give a thorough thought on the requirement of such goods or services. Sometimes, they are well-known brands and sometimes these are just advertisements on social media platforms.

I thought it would make an engaging reading discussing these campaigns. Read further to know about some of the popular drives.

Analyzing Viral Marketing Campaigns
1. Twitter—See What's Happening
2. Uber—Get There
3. Spotify—Music for Every Mood
4. Dropbox—All Yours
5. Apple—Think Different
6. Mint—Indian Financial Daily Newspaper
7. Dove—Real Beauty Campaign
8. Zoom—We Deliver Happiness
9. iHeartDogs—Because Every Dog Matters
10. ALSA (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association)

Analyzing Viral Marketing Campaigns

Viral Marketing

All of us have either come across social media advertisements about goods or services that have been recommended by a friend or a page someone has liked or a pop up based on previous behavior on the website. This is a specific technique in marketing and is officially called ‘Viral marketing’.

Viral Marketing, as the name suggests means something that spreads very fast. This form of marketing aims to result in a message spreading exponentially. And is commonly associated with web or mobile domain marketing.

Viral marketing campaigns will be considered successful when a message is spread dramatically and results in the desired outcome for a brand.

1. Twitter—See What's Happening

We all follow our favorite people on Twitter and share our thoughts via Twitter. How did they make their presence felt? Let me tell you a story.

The South by South West (SXSW) conference brings together thousands of millennials interested in music, interactive media, and film every year. The SXSW is held in Austin, Texas. Twitter as a startup negotiated with the organizers to place huge screens around the venue. These were updated with real-time messaging and attendees with Twitter accounts participated in the campaign and promoted the brand.

This created a massive impact, demonstrating the arrival of a new social media age. Twitter gained a new reputation and many new subscribers who wanted to become part of something new. Thus, overall a very successful viral marketing campaign.

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2. Uber—Get There

Have you ever ridden or booked an Uber? We refer to the private taxi like Uber, it demands serious thought how a company’s name has replaced the actual service! How did it all start? A very interesting tale, incidentally again set in Austin, Texas.

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Startup in 2009 and first become a social sensation at the South by South West festival. They offered free rides to attendees during the conference and festival. This created a sensation during the event, and people of course chose social media to discuss and pass o information. Wouldn’t you? Everyone wants to experience free service and that too in such style! The deluge of information back and forth was so much that a social media platform collapsed.

What are our thoughts? Expertly chosen is what I feel, correct time, correct target audience, and most importantly correct venue. Young participants of SXSW no doubt took to social media and in no time this became a classic example of viral marketing. Successful to boot! And today Uber is available in more than 80 countries. Not a bad run!

3. Spotify—Music for Every Mood

Co-Marketing: Spotify and Facebook

Heard of this relatively new music based Startup? If you love music, Spotify is a well-known brand today. Ever wondered how did it achieve such fame in a short time? Let us learn.

Spotify is a Startup that was founded in 2008 in Sweden and provides audio steaming and media services. It started free registration for the customer in the UK in February 2009 and by September it had to halt free registrations, making them by invitation only. Then in 2011, it started US operations, and here a co-marketing with Facebook solidified its position. A personal playlist can be published on a user’s Facebook page and another user can listen to the same playlist. This can be achieved with a single click.

As of April 2020, Spotify has more than 133 million users and is available in more than 15 countries including the UK, the US, and the MENA region. This is another great example where a simple collaboration with social media has made the Startup viral and increased users, especially where services are based on a Freemium model.

4. Dropbox—All Yours

Dropbox s the go-to cloud storage service to save your files and data in the cloud. And the best part is once stored in virtual space, you can share and sync your files without the hassle of sending attachments individually.

Started in 2014, it is valued at over USD 10 billion and considered one of the most valuable startups. They set a great example of affiliate marketing that went viral. Dropbox offered 500 MB of free storage for every referral and signup by an existing customer. What happened? Well, Dropbox saw registration shoot up by 60% for a while, still, now a major part of new customers is derived from word-of-mouth.

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By offering a reward to an existing customer, they achieved effective marketing by customers and a great loyal customer base. And when most of your customers are businesses, their reach is huge. Dropbox has over 500 million users as of 2016. And are poised to cross over a billion users soon.

5. Apple—Think Different

An iconic brand with exclusive products, we all know and love their iPhones and Macbooks. Do they need anything to talk about themselves? Probably not, but any company always needs to connect to its customers. And Apple chose the ‘Shot on iPhone’ way.

As is Apple’s way, it was kept simple and easy. Photos on social media shot via iPhone were scrutinized and 77 shots from 24 countries were gathered. They were then featured in ongoing series in multi-platform content. The best part, these beautiful photos, and photographers do not have any direct link to the brand except being shot on iPhone, except tagline – Shot on iPhone.

Why this campaign? Well, each is unique and tells a thought-provoking story. These connect Apple to the human element and capture the imagination of customers. Again, an innovative way to remind their presence and the quality of their products.

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6. Mint—Indian Financial Daily Newspaper

As content creators, we are all about content. Well, financial colossus Mint proved that with its strategy. Often the new generation is heard grumbling about the old-fashioned banks and financial institutions and unable to control finances. Well, Mint used its blogs to create awareness and gave special benefits to users who put mint badges on their blogs or social media pages. That was great free advertising!

They were able to make customers feel special without spending money. And they got exposure via at least 600 blogs, this would include normal people and influencers as well. Further, achieved recognition as providing useful information and concerned about users. So a great way to become a household name!

7. Dove—Real Beauty Campaign

Dove is a household name in beauty products all over the world. Their products are similar to a host of others, often compared in various aspects by competitors. Then in 2004, there came a turning point with the Real Beauty Campaign. This is concept is still shared and talked about even after a decade and a half.

Dove commissioned a study and it concluded that only 2% of women considered themselves beautiful. So, then they conceived the idea of using real women rather than models for their ad, a real ace up their sleeves. It reached a high point in 2013 with the Real Beauty Sketches Video ad which was watched over 114 million times within a month. The third most successful shared ad of all time!

A little bit of research and addressing customer pain points achieved phenomenal results. Become up, close and personal with customers!

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8. Zoom—We Deliver Happiness

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With the COVID-19 limiting us indoors, the virtual world has become a reality and necessity both. Zoom is the choice of communication tool for personal as well as business use. But there are others, so how do you get people interested in your service and increase brand awareness?

The virtual Background Competition was born, in March 2020 Zoom introduced the monthly competition for remote workers. They could share videos or pictures using zoom’s virtual background feature. A monthly competition with three prizes every month.

How did zoom perform? Over 50000 people signed just to take part in the competition. Another success story with offering customer value-added service. This campaign brought new people to zoom and got them to explore different features. A good way to make sure customers learn and recommend further.

9. iHeartDogs—Because Every Dog Matters

The USP of iHeartDogs is social good, for any purchase they donate meals to dog shelters. Keeping to their core, they launched a 0% off campaign during Black Friday 2017. The advert on Facebook read 0% off but the company ended quadrupling sales. makes you wonder why?

Instead of discounts, they promised to double donations from purchases that weekend. They had aimed to provide meals to 100,000 dogs in need but ended up providing 200,000 instead. The sales were four times expectations with 500,000 people reaching out from just Facebook. The Facebook ad explained details once customers clicked on the ad to know more.

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The details were clear once when users visited the ad, thus generating more traffic to the page. Brand awareness is important for a socially responsible company thus, this was an ideal way to achieve all of that.

10. ALSA (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association)

Ever heard of the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association? Like me, probably you have also not heard, how then are they popular. Well, the campaign they ran is one of the most prolific and went viral with heavyweights like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Justin Bieber participating. Which campaign? Well, the humble Ice Bucket Challenge.

Many celebrities and popular personalities agreed to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads to raise awareness of ALS and funds for research. The campaign raised more than USD 220 million and was the fifth most popular google search in 2014. Even after the campaign, the donations to ALS remained 25% higher than a year before the campaign.

ALSA was able to raise awareness by breaking the mold and doing something out of the box. They even changed their target demographic and audience even though just for a single donation, but the numbers were too large to be ignored. That on its own is incentive enough.

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What is viral marketing campaign?

A Viral marketing campaign or viral advertising is a business strategy that uses existing social networks to promote a product. Its name refers to how consumers spread information about a product with other people, much in the same way that a virus spreads from one person to another.

How do you carry a viral marketing campaign?

10 Secrets to Going Viral on Social Media

  • Master the target audience.
  • Select the appropriate social media platform.
  • Create content with high engagement.
  • Time content for maximum reach.
  • Boost visibility with advertising.
  • Partner with a social media influencer.
  • Measure performance to create better campaigns in the future.
  • Provide a clear call to action.

What is the best marketing campaign?

The Best Marketing Campaigns of All Time

  • Nike: "Just Do It" Campaign.
  • Apple: "Get a Mac" Campaign.
  • Pepsi: "Is Pepsi OK?" Campaign.
  • IHOP: "IHOb" Campaign.
  • Absolut Vodka: "The Bottle" Campaign.
  • Red Bull: "Stratos" Campaign.
  • Marlboro: "The Marlboro Man" Campaign.
  • Dos Equis: "The Most Interesting Man in the World" Campaign.

Why is viral marketing important?

Viral marketing is exactly what it sounds like marketing that spreads like a virus. This simple approach can help in creating a lot of positive impact during promotional product launches or campaigns. It helps to get tremendous visibility, exposure, and better traffic which results in increased sales revenue.


Marketing is an essential element of any business, startup, or established organization. But probably more so for startups as the biggest challenge is to find and convince the potential customer.
The good news? There are innovative ways to plan marketing and even go viral without breaking the bank. The best ideas can be simple and inexpensive. Especially, for viral marketing few things should be kept in mind. For example, the appeal to the masses, simple approach, multi-platform flexibility, reflecting brand value, building brand awareness.

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