40 Of The Most Successful Viral Campaigns Of All Time

Here is a list of 40 of the most successful viral marketing campaigns of all time. Not all were conducted online. Many involved a mix of online and offline promotions.

Use Google to trace the historical data of each campaign. By studying these popular campaigns, you will develop a “feel” for what works — and you can get the lessons you need to apply with your campaigns.

Choose a few campaigns from the list that resemble your ideas and use them as case studies. (1) (2) (3) (4)

1. HotMail

2. “Subservient Chicken”

3. South African Wine Stormhoek

4. Google Analytics

5. Gmail

6. “Blair Witch Project” movie

7. Netscape

8. TheLactivist.com Project

9. “An Inconvenient Truth” birthed the “Terrifying Message from Al Gore” video

10. The organization “Hanso” was inspired by the television show “Lost”

11. EepyBird.com’s explosive fusion of name brand soda and popular mints

12. Milliondollarhomepage

13. SaveToby.com (we kill the bunny if you don’t send money)

14. MarketLeap (tell-a-friend)

15. Akamai’s Net Usage Meter

16. “Flying Spaghetti Monsters” and the “Pastafarian” movement

17. “Air force One graffiti story”

18. Justilien’s Viral Link Baiting Study

19. Digg

20. del.icio.us

21. Zillow.com

22. “Halo 2” game

23. “Tide Challenge”

24. Firefox (Funnyfox)

25. “Dove’s Evolution” campaign (including the sexist spoof videos)

26. eCrush (online dating)

27. Evite (party invitations)

28. “T-Mobile Dance”

29. Illegal Ponzi schemes and related investment pyramid schemes

30. The television comedy show “Mystery Science Theater 3000”

31. “Whopper Sacrifice” 2009

32. “The 2007 concept album “Year Zero” by Nine Inch Nails employed a viral marketing campaign, including the band leaving USB drives at concerts.” (5)

33. “World Wrestling Entertainment promoted the return of Chris Jericho with a viral marketing campaign using 15-second cryptic binary code videos.” (6 )

34. “Avirginsplea.com claimed that a 25-year old virgin living in Toronto named Geoff needed five million hits on his web site in 30 days in order for Jenn, one of his platonic female friends, to help him lose his virginity.” (7 )

35. “The 2008 film “Cloverfield” was first publicized with a teaser trailer that did not advertise the film’s title, only its release date: ‘01·18·08.’”(8)

36. “The marketing campaign for the 2008 film ‘The Dark Knight’ combined both online and real-life elements to make it resemble an alternate reality game. Techniques included mass gatherings of Joker fans, scavenger hunts around the world, detailed and intricate web sites that let fans actually participate in “voting” for political offices in Gotham City….” (9)

37. The most successful viral video of all time is 2006 “Evolution of Dance” by Judson Laipply. He dances to multiple songs in brilliant fashion. As of this writing, the video shows an astonishing 180,161,206 views! (10) (11)

38. “Between December 2009 and March 2010 a series of seven videos were posted to YouTube under the name ‘iamamiwhoami’ leading to speculation that they were a marketing campaign for a musician.” (12)

39. Susan Boyle’s appearance in the auditions for “Britain’s Got Talent!” as shown on YouTube was the viral video hit of 2009. We do not know the story behind it, but it clearly promoted the careers of several people. (13)

40. “On July 14, 2010, Old Spice launched the fastest growing online viral video campaign ever, garnering 6.7 million views after 24 hours, ballooning over 23 million views after 36 hours. Old Spice’s agency created a bathroom set in Portland, OR, and had their TV commercial star, Isaiah Mustafa, reply to 186 online comments and questions from web sites like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Digg, Youtube, and others. The campaign ran for 3 days.” (14)

John Delavera

(1) Wilson, Ralph, New Examples of Viral Marketing, para 4–31, http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmtp10/ses06_viral-marketing.cfm, accessed September 6, 2011.

(2) Pauline K., Interview with Jennifer Laycock — Viral Marketing & Social Media, para 7–8, http://www.highrankings.com/jennifer-laycock-interview, accessed September 6, 2011.

Note: Jennifer Laycock recommends this web site in the interview.

Collier, Mack, TheViralGarden, http://mackcollier.com/theviralgarden/, accessed September 6, 2011.

(3) Lewis, Kent, Get the Bug: Viral Marketing Unmasked, para 22–25, http://www.sitepoint.com/get-the-bug-viral-marketing/, accessed September 6, 2011.

(4) Viral marketing, para 11–12, 15–16, 34, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_marketing, accessed September 6, 2011.

(5) Viral marketing, para 19, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_marketing, accessed September 6, 2011.

(6) Viral marketing, para 20, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_marketing, accessed September 6, 2011.

(7) Viral marketing, para 23, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_marketing, accessed September 6, 2011.

(8) Viral marketing, para 24, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_marketing, accessed September 6, 2011.

(9) Viral marketing, para 26, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_marketing, accessed September 6, 2011.

(10) Parr, Ben, Top 20 YouTube and Video Memes of All Time, para 16–17, http://mashable.com/2009/05/25/youtube-video-memes/, accessed September 6, 2011.

(11) judsonlaipply, Evolution of Dance — By Judson Laipply, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMH0bHeiRNg, accessed September 6, 2011.

Length: 06:01

Views: 180,161,206

(12) Viral marketing, para 29, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_marketing, accessed September 6, 2011.

(13) Parr, Ben, Top 20 YouTube and Video Memes of All Time, para 46–47, http://mashable.com/2009/05/25/youtube-video-memes/, accessed September 6, 2011.

(14) Viral marketing, para 30, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_marketing, accessed September 6, 2011.

Written by

LL.B., MSc, Writer, Success Coach — https://JohnDelavera.com

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