Effective Features of Viral Ad Campaigns


In today’s world of marketing, many professionals are working hard to discover the formula behind viral ad campaigns. What is it about certain online videos like K-Mart’s recent “Ship My Pants” ad campaign that piqué the interest of social media users? What techniques are most effective in keeping viewers interested from start to finish? What will prompt someone to share an ad with a friend, family member, or social media following? And while there isn’t an exact formula quite yet, here is a breakdown of some online video ad campaigns that have been quite successful:



One way many brands are creating viral ad campaigns is by leveraging user-generated videos. Content contests very effectively engage targeted audiences and help get people to share the campaign and its messaging.  For example, Aflac created a campaign called the “10 Second Challenge”. The company encouraged its audience to create a simple video explaining what Aflac meant to them, and in return, Aflac gave away a prize of  $25,000 (as well as the promise of becoming an internet celebrity) to the video that got the most votes. Aflac received more than 180 video responses which received hundreds of thousands of views through social media. The campaign also successfully produced creative and meaningful messaging.

8th Continent Soymilk


The brands we wear, the new songs we recommend to friends, and the links we share on our Facebook profile are all ways we project and define our unique personality. So, many videos go viral online because they help someone make a statement about who they are as a student, an employee, parent, etc. This video, created by 8th Continent Soymilk, was effective because its target audience (mothers) could easily relate to it.

Samsung HD


This ad went viral and was effective for a number of reasons. First, the ad was shot using the product – thus demonstrating the Samsung camera’s value and quality. Secondly, the product was mentioned and branded consistently within the ad in a way that didn’t seem forced. It didn’t feel like advertising. The ad was put together by a marketing team but pulled off the look and feel of a user-generated video (which, in turn, more effectively captured and held the attention of its audience). Finally, the ad was engaging. It presented a challenge and kept its audience thinking about the brand after the ad ended.

Microsoft X Box


Microsoft X Box created an ad campaign with a simple message encouraging its audience to appreciate life and have fun. The video spread like wildfire over the web triggering a wide array of emotions and reactions. Many felt the video was incredibly morose and graphic while others found it clever. Regardless of how it was perceived, it was a novel idea, and the ad served its purpose by catching the attention of a very large audience and likely performed above and beyond the expectations of its creative team.