What are some of the positive and negative factors for viral marketing campaigns?

ViralContentCreating a marketing campaign that “goes viral” is probably the dream for many online marketers. So what is the secret to doing this? How is a successful and effective campaign created?

It is almost impossible to figure out how to create something “viral” and to differentiate between a successful campaign and one that has turned into a viral campaign.  With that being said there may be some areas to look into to increasing the chances of creating a viral campaign.

The word itself “viral marketing” seems to have a short history in the world of marketing and is one that has generally first been launched by Hotmail with the tag line “Get your, private, free email from hotmail at www.hotmail.com” (Porter & Golan, 2006). This tag line was implemented onto every email sent through the email provider and passed onto recipients in the same way a virus would spread hence the given term, viral marketing.


Below are some of the positive and negative factors that are associated with the use of viral marketing campaigns.

Positive Factors in Viral Marketing 

Viral marketing exploits social networks and encourages consumers to share and comment on product information with friends (Leskovec, Admic, & Huberman, 2008). Multiple social platforms are reached through viral campaigns and the audiences are so diverse as the impact is so great. The campaigns can be seen by millions of people in minutes if done right and have an effect on every social website out there.

Here is a preview of one of the most successful viral campaigns ever to go live.

(Evian, 2013)

The campaign launched by Evian blew up overnight and as this is being posted currently has over 118 million views on Youtube. The campaign was designed to express the benefits of the water the company sells and promote the “Evian – Live young” slogan that the company is now pushing through its bottle design. From this video it shows that viral campaigns if successful can not only make you smile but can re-design your whole product look and feel for the company.

Negative Factors in Viral Marketing

While viral marketing can help a brand grow quickly and cheaply it can carry more risk than that of building from the ground up based on relevance and relationships (Aaker, 2004). Brands are a special and explicit way of representing an organisation as well as the products organisations may sell. Change that is driven by campaigns, product launches and market trends is accelerated by a companies media strategy (Aaker, 2011). This means that companies should be very careful about what they decide to market and how they campaign especially those with built up reputation. Van den Berg and Berger (2011) state that marketers, who still use the old method of shouting out how fantastic amazing companies’ brands are, is not successful anymore. This can be summarised with the use of the entire marketing communications mix as it is used to create a brand image and reputation that includes internet and social network marketing (Jobber, 2007).

Viral marketing can also become unintentional, the video below is a great example of this.

(Pancakes, 2006)

This video was created by a student in Aberdeen University and now has over 3 million hits on Youtube. It went viral for reasons that I cannot explain and has been broadcasted on ABC News, Fox News and Sky News. It took three days for the video to reach nearly 700,000 views on Youtube and is an example of how unintentionally something can become viral. Issues now with campaigns such as this are companies that have their products being shown as “free marketing” to them shows the lack of control that these viral campaigns can create for big named brands. In this case it can be seen that the products used are positively represented but this may not always be the case and could lead to lawsuits and issues with brands.


Touching on the basis of the positives and negatives of viral campaigns it would seem that the positives clearly outweigh the negatives. The impact that viral campaigns can have are mostly dependant on firstly having a reputation built up, this can alter the way in which viral is a good thing to your business. The other side of is that if you’re an unknown brand or random vlogger, video creator or editor becoming viral could be the start of everything. With that being said it must be noted that the use of branded products and the way they are portrayed can have a multitude of outcomes and consequences depending on how they are viewed.


Aaker, D. A. (2004). Leveraging the corporate brand. California Management Review, 46(3), 10.

Aaker, D. A. (2011). Brand relevance: Making competitors irrelevant. San Francisco: John Wiley & Son.

EvianBabies (2013) Evian baby&me. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfxB5ut-KTs [Accessed 31st January 2015].

Gir2007 (2006) Pancakes! Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnCVZozHTG8 [Accessed 31st January 2015].

Jobber, D. (2007). Principles and practice of marketing (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Leskovec, J., Adamic, L. A., & Huberman, B. A. (2008). The dynamics of viral marketing. [Online] [Accessed] 31st January 2015 Available at:  http://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0509039.pdf

Porter, L., & Golan, G. J. (2006). From Subservient Chickens to Brawny Men: A Comparison of Viral Advertising to Television Advertising. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 6(2), 30-38

Van den Bergh, J., & Behrer, M. (2011). How cool brands stay hot: Branding to Generation Y. London: British Library