The new mantra today is Go Viral

Life was completely different before the Internet came along. There was a time that we used to send letters, greeting card, gifts, and parcels in the mail hoping that they would reach their destination within a sensible amount of time. I am sure all of us have our share of anxieties and apprehensions when we used to totally rely on the postal and telegraph services. The World Wide Web has changed our world in more than one way. Business, communication, education, knowledge sharing and socializing has become a child’s game for all of us and that too at click of a button!

fifaworldcuppurses-viralDuring the 2002 World Cup, a doctored photo appeared on the cover of the British newspaper “The Mirror.” The photo depicted members of the Argentinean defense with women’s handbags in front of a goal. The photo instantly made the rounds on the Internet, ultimately becoming one of the most shared photos of all time. Though FIFA World Cup establishment did not meant to use this photograph as a direct marketing ploy of the FIFA World Cup, the shared photo helped to further heighten the already global prestige of the event!

The leading media networks today are Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Of course there are other sites that fall under the category of prominent social networks including YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn. The Internet has paved way for the Viral Marketing. All over the world the marketers prefer to go viral.  It is an amazing method of generating traffic and leads but also creates a great demand for a new or older product. It is successful because it creates the curiosity and desire needed to generate the demand for a product or service.

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are treating the popular song Kolaveri Di from a Tamil film ‘3’ as a classic example of viral marketing. IIM – Ahmadabad dedicated a session to Kolaveri Di as part of its course on Contemporary Film Industry: A business perspective. Various professors at IIMs are saying that viral marketing is in-thing and marketers should not neglect it.

Online viral marketing is the latest marketing tool

Online viral marketing is the latest marketing tool that is creating buzz in today’s net savvy world. It is thriving on the word-of-the-mouth phenomenon for numerous products in the world. The Australian beer company, Carlton Draught, wanted to produce an ad that would grab the attention of the world. The result: “The Big Ad.”  The ad went viral, forcing the beer company to scale back its broadcast television ambitions due to risk of over-exposure. Within 24 hours of its release, the ad attracted more than 162,000 views, and after two weeks it had garnered over one million views. Viral advertising may take the form of video clips, interactive flash games, e-books, images, or even text messages.


In 2007, World Wrestling Entertainment promoted the return of Chris Jericho with a viral marketing campaign using 15 second videos. The videos contained hidden messages and biblical links related to Jericho.

imagesThe key to successful Viral Marketing is to tweak the marketing message online astutely. When one consumer finds some value in your message he is likely to forward it on to his network of contacts. Online consumers tend to forward these messages for a variety of reasons, but all of them stem back when they believe that message in an ad has an intrinsic value that they wish to share with others.

In an effort to build up their online presence, Kraft launched a branded micro site called “Cheesy Movies.”  The site, which corresponded with Kraft’s much larger back-to-school promotions, allowed participants to create an account and develop their own animated movies up to 25 seconds long.  The short films featured an array of different props and characters for participants to work with and manipulate.  The micro site was a hit with both kids and parents.  Thousands of movies were created with each participant spending on average between 30 minutes and an hour on the site.

images (1)Viral message can often be word-of-mouth delivered and enhanced online; it can harness the network effect of the Internet and can be very useful in reaching a large number of people rapidly. Viral marketing is linked to social intelligence. According to the original definition of Edward Thorndike, social intelligence is “the ability to understand and manage men and women, boys and girls, to act wisely in human relations”. It is equivalent to interpersonal intelligence. Many thinkers have opined that social networking improves social intelligence.

Nike has become a master of viral marketing over the years, but this 2006 ad staring Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldinho has emerged as one of the greatest viral ads of all time. The “is it real, or is it doctored” quality of the ad caused many viewers to send the clip to friends to get a second opinion on whether the feat was real or computer generated. As of today, the amateur-looking clip has generated more than 30 million views on YouTube and positioned itself as one of the most successful and acclaimed viral ads of all time.

In another case, BMW launched a series of eight high-cost, high-production short films released on BMW’s website. The films were produced and directed by such acclaimed filmmakers as David Fincher and Guy Richie and starred actors such as Don Cheadle, Clive Owen, and even Madonna. Within the first four months of release, the films attracted over 11 million views and sent BMW sales up 12% in 2001 alone. The success of the BMW series has prompted many other car manufacturers such as Nissan, Chevrolet to adopt a similar internet-based strategy.

People want to stay connected with their friends, families and the world from wherever they are. We usually tend to pass on any news, message which strikes us or our imagination with our near and dear ones.  The word viral means an infection caused by virus; here viral means infectious, crazy, frenzy.

Smirnoff wanted to promote the launch of Raw Tea, a new line of alcoholic malt beverages. To do this, they released a music video called “Tea Party” to the product’s micro site. The video eventually made it over to YouTube where it has attracted nearly 5 million views. The popularity of the video inspired the marketers at Smirnoff to expand Raw Tea’s website to include follow-up videos and online contests in order to make the site more interactive.

As the name “viral” suggests infection, this marketing technique can spread uncontrolled after effects like a virus. It has both positive and negative side effects. The effects of viral marketing can only be controlled to a certain extent and are dependent on one’s creativity. I personally feel marketers need to be very careful while deciding the target audience and the timing for viral marketing.

When Chevrolet created a user generated advertising platform for a campaign for their new model ‘Tahoe’, things went wrong when users started making critical comments of the big car maker’s fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness. The rumors on commercials typically included stuff like this: Hey, 2,325 U.S. kids have died, 16,653 have been injured, and up to $2 trillion will be spent to keep our oil supply safe. If you support the troops you’ll get out there and use some of it! Chevy Tahoe: Don’t let all that blood go to waste.

Sony, decided to put the marketing of their PSP system in the hands of some eccentric ad agency, and striding into the unsafe waters of viral marketing, the ad agency Zipatoni made a terrible, appalling video of some guy rapping about how he wanted a PSP for Christmas and posted it on Youtube along with links to a website. Never once was it mentioned that Sony was behind this ad, in fact the ad was presented as fan made. The campaign was torn apart nastily and exposed over at The feelings of Sony’s customers and its target audience got hurt with this nasty ad. Sony could only respond in an apologetic manner and a tall explanation. The rivals of Sony derived a great mileage out of the ad failure.

Like every coin has two sides, Viral Marketing too has its two sides; heads and tails, you decide which side you want to use.



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Over the course of my life, I have done all possible jobs that one can think of – front desk assistant, telephone operator, clerical work, accounts assistant, inventory officer, sales woman, sales manager, tutor, lecturer, professor, director...etc. The range of job designations and experience of working in diverse roles has given me strength to think, help people, increase customer satisfaction, promote products, and off course build brands. When I look back at my career, in some jobs I excelled, in some I continued with odds. But the fact is that the diversity in my career has strengthened me as a person and definitely enhanced my skills. Every job taught me something or the other. I love meeting people, reading, travelling, listening to music, cooking, gardening, teaching, writing. Blogging has been a recent addition and am loving it. It has become my biggest hobby. Blogging has changed my life. My blog is wide-ranging manifestation of the way I think. I am a creative individual; I write because I have the urge to translate expressions of life. Over the years I studied and added some degrees as well. I have a PhD in Marketing Management from University of Pune, a post doctoral D.Litt (Doctor of letters) from Mumbai University in strategic management. I am a Professor of Management Studies with 16 years of teaching experience and have over 20 years industry experience. My core teaching areas are Marketing Strategy and General Management. As a teacher, I have always maintained the academic rigor in my classroom, I have always believed and practiced academic engagement while lecturing, I believe in experiential teaching-learning. I truly believe that education is interdisciplinary; therefore I have successfully guided 15 students for their PhD degree across various sectors in business management which includes a broad base of research coursework coupled with an area of specialization. I write on various management topics, research, news and higher education for students. And, the general section of articles on my blog relate to my interests in life. Happy reading to you all!


  1. Very insightful article with world class examples…infact couple of days back a video of Delhi boy playing prank with father has also gone viral…power of viral marketing !

    Viral marketing & the way social media is functioning total has surely revolutionized marketing campaigns & branding strategies….

  2. Viral marketing is here to stay for a long time..I am really sterned to find about Chris Jericho’s comeback in your article.Hats off to the pain taken by you to write this article…Very enlightening ..We can say that ‘Kolaveri di’ is the break even point for viral marketing in India as we see how it made dhanush an overnight star..One has to be very careful while uploading the ad as we know the damage sony suffered…Cos once it is uploaded anyone , anywhere can use/misuse it…and one can just feel helpless as all he can do is unload it. thank you Madam