Viral marketing double act

Viral campaigns are an enigma. Word of mouth is, by definition, viral, but marketers want much more bang for their brand communicating buck. How can you spread your ‘message’ by engaging users (and potential clients) exponentially without devaluing your brand or using slapstick comedy?

Few marketers can claim to have pulled this business magic trick off, but two significant examples have already been seen this year: T-Mobile and the Best Job in the World.

T-Mobile orchestrated an involuntary dance with 300 people in London’s Liverpool Street station. The fact that the public joined in to varying degrees, with plenty taking out their phones and capturing the moment to relay it to others, was right on cue.

This technology in the participation of the event is a masterstroke. No, they’re not in the dancing business; they’re in the communication business and they demonstrated how we all interact today through some very clever ‘cause and effect’ staging. Over 3 million YouTube views, 7,000 comments and a national TV ad campaign would certainly allow the team to claim that they ‘got the eyeballs.’

Best Job in the World
The self-proclaimed ‘Best Job in the World’ lit the blogosphere’s blowtorch. Marketing RSS feeds squawked with the ingenuity of Tourism Queensland accepting video applications for the job as caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef. A once-in-a-lifetime job deservedly received massive exposure and applicants surged forward for six months of ‘work’ at $150K.

The tactic scored right from the off, but a touch of greed must’ve set in as the ad agency started posting fake applicants (which are public viewing). One of these was from the Digital Project Manager for the agency. Oops.

This was the pin to the party balloon. Trust evaporated and respectful praise turned into negative PR with the crying of ‘Fake’ from hundreds of keyboards. When caught they failed to pull the brakes and it went on to be a train wreck – they denied it. This went down as well as an oil spillage.

The job is real – more authentic, even, than T Mobile’s “spontaneous” dancers – but one campaign stepped over the line that the other seems to have courted.

Tread carefully, folks. Innovatively, openly and carefully.

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