Secrets to Successful Viral Ads

Why do some viral ads manage to spread widely across the web and become such huge success stories? We found four elements that are used in successful viral ads: surprise, humor, emotional appeal and knowledge of the target audience.

Volvo Trucks’ idea to showcase the full potential of Volvo Dynamic Steering with Jean-Claude Van Damme performing a full split on two reversing trucks turned out be an epic success. That’s definitely something you don’t see every day! Since the release in November 2013, The Epic Split has gained more than 73 million views on YouTube. It is the most watched automotive ad ever on YouTube.

Selecting stories which appeal on an emotional level to both the general public and the target group may well be behind the video’s success. According to Andres Vilhelmsson, the public relations manager for Volvo Trucks, this is the key success factor for viral campaigns. Vilhelmsson says the campaign is part of their new strategy to reach out to a broader target group through social media. Clearly this strategy has been the right choice for Volvo Trucks. The overall campaign has been estimated to represent 126 million euros in earned media value. Vilhelmsson also adds that, “almost half the truck buyers who have seen the launch videos say it is now more likely that they will choose Volvo the next time they purchase a truck.

Clever Humor Can Set You Apart from the Competition

Combine a dancing bear, a catchy motto, funny and approachable company founder – and what do you get? A great video! Dollar Shave Club’s ad Our Blades Are F***ing Great has received over 14 million views and it prompted 12,000 orders in two days since its release. Michael Dubin, the founder of the company, told The New York Times that they spent about $4,500 on the video, which proves great marketing doesn’t need to cost a ton.

Dove’s Mission Evoking Emotions

Dove’s commitment to foster self-esteem in women led to a huge success with the Real Beauty Sketches ad. By creating a narrative of how women don’t see the beauty in themselves as others do, the video generated an outburst of engagements and conversation across the brand’s social media channels. According to Dove the video has received over 4 million shares. This is a great example of the power of an emotional appeal.

Angry Birds Booming Among the Younger Crowd

Angry Birds’ Cinematic Trailer was ranked as the most watched ad ever on YouTube by Adweek.com in 2012. Lauri Konttori, Rovio’s creative director, thinks it isn’t just a game trailer, it’s a story which brings out the birds’ personalities and deepens the fans’ relationship with them. It seems companies targeting kids may have an advantage in succeeding in the viral marketing. After all, it’s all about knowing your audience.


nbr_kansiThis article appeared on the August 2014 issue of Nordic Business Report. Read the full magazine here »

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