Assuming that you’ve not been living in a cave for the past week, you must have seen or at least heard about the image of The Dress.
The picture went viral after it was uploaded on to a Scottish singer/songwriter’s Tumblr account where it has been viewed over 73 million times. With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to look at how this and a couple of other examples of viral content that were not created by the brands themselves have inadvertently helped generate both sales and interest and furthermore, how the brands capitalised on the attention that the content initially created.
Roman Originals (#TheDress)
Originally an image taken by a mother who was picking out a dress for her daughter’s wedding, the picture went viral after it became apparent that some people could see the dress as white and gold instead of the dress’ actual blue and black colour. Simply explained as a trick of the light that unintentionally created a perceptual illusion, the dress’ manufacturer Roman Originals were quick to act once they had caught wind of the social media storm that the image had generated. As the original photo made no mention of the brand at all, it was imperative for them to act quickly to utilise the interest in the dress in the best way possible.
In addition to creating a number of pay per click advertisements with a clear call to action, their head of e-commerce Adrian Addison explained how “straight away we ran our own social media campaign off the back of it on both Twitter and Facebook. We made sure that we updated all of the creative to reflect this opportunity. On site we changed the homepage to promote the dress, added ‘#TheDress’ to the product title and ran a competition to win #TheDress to increase subscribers”.
With the likes of Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift all sharing their own opinion with their swarms of Twitter followers, the exposure #TheDress received propelled it to stratospheric heights. In perspective, the Roman Originals website experienced a spike in website hits of up to 1.2 million with a rise of over 3,000% checking out the dress’ product detail view online. Now that’s a dress to impress!
Grizzly ate my GoPro
Wildlife cameraman Brad Joseph was filming outdoors in Alaska for a new BBC wildlife documentary so decided to leave his GoPro camera recording next to a river popular with local grizzly bears. Anticipating some close up footage of the bears in their natural habitat, he certainly didn’t expect to find that his camera was out of place, chewed up, yet miraculously still functioning.
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Once he had seen the astounding footage of one bear with his camera in its mouth, Ben uploaded the footage to YouTube in May last year where it has attracted just under two million views. Once GoPro had become aware of the video and in seeing the potential benefits to business, they moved fast in utilising it themselves by posting it to both their own YouTube channel and website video portal where it racked up another million views.
Aside from the probable royalties paid to Brad for his unique footage, the actual cost to GoPro will have been minimal in comparison had they tried to create similar advertising content themselves. Even more importantly, the footage also provides potential GoPro customers with a perfect demonstration of the products quality as well as its impressive bear-proof durability, that combined together make perfect, albeit unintentional, viral marketing content.
Cancer Research (#NoMakeupSelfie)
Without doubt, the #NoMakeupSelfie trend that dominated social media feeds throughout March this time last year was by far the most successful, yet inadvertent piece of viral marketing content of the year.
It involved, mainly women, posting images of their faces without makeup next to an image of a text that showed that they had donated £3 to Cancer Research UK. Despite the campaign not actually being initiated by CRUK themselves, after noticing that #nomakeupselfie was trending on Twitter they were quick to react by posting tweets that lent their support and encouraged others to join in which raised further awareness to the cause. It has been reported that the charity received around £8m in donations as a direct result of the campaign.
In addition to the huge sum of money raised, CRUK experienced a peak in its website traffic as well as an increase in people donating at their high street stores. The trend was originally started by an author who had chosen to support actress Kim Novak whose recent bare-faced attendance at the Oscars had been met with derision by some critics. Its overall success can be explained, in some part at least, by the fact that it was so accessible and easy for everyone to join in. Charitable endeavours usually involve climbing, running or even jumping out of planes, which, in most scenarios require physical fitness, training, special equipment and importantly time. People did this at home with a spare 5 minutes, a cup of tea, a few make-up wipes and their mobile telephone.
Water is Life (#FirstWorldProblems)
Another non-profitable campaign that started in the social sphere was the Water is Life campaign. Despite the fact that they came up with the idea themselves, it was a result of a hash tag that they had seen on Twitter that catalysed the creation of this exceptional viral marketing campaign.
Hijacking the hash tag #FirstWorldProblems, Water is Life were concerned with the amount of people who were publicly airing their apparently annoying problems online. In response, they created an immensely powerful video that puts into perspective how minor a lot of first world problems are. The video soon went viral and engaged a huge swathe of people along the way.
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A Water is Life spokesperson explained how they “were able to change the conversation through social media. Instead of complaining about #FirstWorldProblems, people began using the hashtag as a vehicle to spread Water is Life’s message and to encourage donations”.
As a result of the campaign, Water is Life were able to provide a million days worth of clean water for people in need. This was possible through quick thinking by the charity, who through the power of social media were able to convert a contemptible hash tag in to an incredibly thought provoking viral campaign that ultimately flipped the script and got people talking about real world problems instead of their own.
- Digital Marketing.