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Digital Marketing 101: Going Viral Part 1

By: July 16, 2014 4 mins read

I'm a fountain of wisdom...

One of the greatest challenges for any online business is achieving visibility. With the seemingly endless supply of content and online ad campaigns, it appears next to impossible to rise above the fray. That’s why - in recent years - we’ve seen the emergence of a powerful new marketing tool: the viral marketing campaign.

From long-established companies seeking to re-invent their image to low-budget film franchises and under-funded charities, numerous companies and organisations have turned to the viral ad campaign. And yet, despite the success of these past campaigns, devising successful viral ads is notoriously difficult. Timing and luck play a significant role in the success of many viral campaigns. That’s why, many believe, there’s no tried and tested method for success.

And yet, although luck certainly plays a significant role in the success of any viral ad campaign, there are a number of key characteristics that many campaigns appear to share. Here at Big Dog, we’ve studied many of the most popular viral ads over the past few years and tried to discover what makes them so appealing. Here’s what we learned.

1) Risk it all For a Laugh

One of the defining traits of many humour-based viral ad campaigns is their willingness to take risks. Audiences won’t remember the same old gags they’ve been seeing for years. They’ll remember the ads that shocked them into laughter with their brazen originality. Absurdism, unpredictability, downright weirdness. These might just be the keys to your success.

2) Keep an Eye on the Headlines

Another defining characteristic of many viral campaigns is their relevance to current affairs. What are the most significant topics and burning questions currently on people’s minds? Many successful ad campaigns go viral because they relate to what’s happening in our world today. Social issues, public debates, new technologies, emerging trends. These are great places to start when devising your campaign.

3) Make it Beautiful

Although humour is a trademark of many viral campaigns, beauty and visual appeal is a close contender. When humour is not an option - and you’re willing to put in the time and resources - creating an ad campaign that people will find beautiful is just as effective. Beauty, of course, is difficult to achieve. But if you can create an ad campaign that moves people, or speaks the truth, or appeals to the senses, you will reach people all over the world. Beauty is a powerful thing.

So, there you go. Humour, relevance, and beauty are the three most common characteristics found in successful viral ad campaigns. Successfully employ one of these strategies and you’re well on the way to viral stardom.

So what are you waiting for? Get started...