viral branding by Devi_Shakhith


                                                                             SREE NARAYANA GURU
                                                                      INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT STUDIES
                                                                       Mobile # 9489606074,

       Much is not known of viral branding, but it is a concept which has started taking roots in the
current marketing scenario. The viral approach is a compendium of ideas rooted in the classics about
public influence—diffusion of innovation, word of mouth, and public relations—that responded to two
major shifts in the 1990sand that is the increased cynicism toward mass marketing and the emergence
of the Internet. Viral branding assumes that consumers, and not firms, have the most influence in the
creation of brands.

The basic idea is that if the firm can convince these people to make the brand their own, and configure
the brand, like a virus, to make it easy to talk about, these influencers will rapidly spread their interest
in the brand to others through their social networks, just as a virus spreads. At the beginning of the
new-economy era, Douglas Rushkoff warned the world about what he termed media viruses. Brand
managers quickly turned the tables and decided that going viral was the quickest and cheapest path to
brand heaven. The more velocity through the system, the better the brand does.

The five main mantras of viral branding are Involve, Create, Discuss, Promote and Measure. Here
you have to involve people, create a forum for discussion, discuss about the brand, discussion leads to
promotion and then measure the extent to which the brand has been promoted in the market.


VIRAL BRANDING – The phenomena behind the major success stories

Viral marketing or branding is the phenomena behind major successes .Here are some examples which
concrete the idea.

1. Hotmail- Hotmail is one of the most classic examples of successful viral marketing. They offered
free email masses, and simply attached a signature at the bottom of each email that promoted their free
service. Every single e-mail sent by a Hotmail user contained this message, thus spreading it like a
virus. Recipients would see the ad, and as a result, they too signed up for Hotmail.

2. Subservient Chicken- Burger King’s viral marketing campaign for their chicken sandwiches shows
just how fun going viral can be. The Subservient Chicken was a man dressed in a chicken outfit who
would perform whatever action you commanded him to. Just one day after the site’s launch, one
million people had already given their commands to the subservient chicken.

3. Watchmen- One of the most recent examples on this list, Watchmen’s viral campaign has consisted
of fake newscasts and mock PSAs. Judging from the buzz online, these videos are doing their job. Fans
are pumped up, and anxiously awaiting the movie’s release.

4. Jack in the Box- The latest Jack in the Box campaign is another new example of viral marketing.
During the Super Bowl, Jack in the Box ran a commercial (in some regions) that featured Jack getting
hit by a bus. The commercial urged people to visit www. Hanging the Unfortunately, the site
wasn’t ready for the surge in traffic, and it crashed during its biggest chance to go hot.

5. Dark Knight- The Dark Knight viral campaign was one of the most widespread of its kind. It
included everything from websites for Gotham Cab Company to a real life campaign for Harvey Dent.
The point is this—the campaign engaged people on a different level. And you can’t argue with the
results. The Dark Knight made ridiculous amounts of money at the box office and on DVD. Of course,

there were other factors involved (Heath Ledger’s death, and just how great the film looked,) but the
viral campaign succeeded in creating unprecedented amounts of hype.

7. Smirnoff- Smirnoff’s viral “Tea Party “video was an instant hit. It features preppy, Ivy League white
boys doing a rap about throwing a tea party. The video just begs to be shared with others, making it a
viral success.

8. Dove- The Dove Evolution viral ad is effective because it sends a unique, positive message about the
true definition of beauty. And this video really did spread like a virus. Not only did it get nearly 2
million hits within a month’s time, but it also received attention from top TV shows Ellen, The View,
and Entertainment Tonight.

9. Peerflix- At the time of launching their viral campaign, Peerflix was a new company offering P2P
DVD trading. Playing off the Hollywood theme, they created an online paparazzi game that made
participants capture scandalous photos of celebrities. Within just 90 days, 2 million people had played
the game, and 5% went on to view the Peerflix website. That’s a significant boost in brand exposure.

10. Bob Dylan- To help promote his greatest hits box set, a viral campaign was created that allowed
users to send messages in the form of the classic Subterranean Homesick Blues video.

11. Simpsons- When the Simpsons Movie came out, it boasted one of the biggest opening weekends of
the year. While it’s easy to say this was because of the show’s illustrious history, the producers believe
there’s more to it than that. In fact, they said the viral marketing campaign was the reason for the film’s
great success. This campaign consisted of everything from changing 7-11s to Kwik -E Marts to
allowing online users to “Simpsonize” themselves.


Both viral branding and social networking has a symbiotic existence. The social networking systems
like the orkut and face book act as levers to propel the acceleration of these brands. Social Networking
websites such as Face book, Friendster, Hi5, and MySpace may be nothing more than just virtual
“lonely hearts’ clubs,” an easy way to link up with friends, former classmates, or meet prospective
dates. Some would even credit these social networking sites for serving as cupid between them and
their future mates. Same way they create a love affair between the brand and the customers.

More than just linking lonely hearts, however, social networking websites are proving to be very useful
to various companies seeking to increase traffic to their own websites. These social networking sites
provide excellent exposure needed to drum up sales opportunities for industries. In fact, in 2005, it was
reported that MySpace scored more page views than Google.

Over the years, these numerous social sites have sprung up, capitalizing on the power of the internet to
transcend distance, race, and language at low cost. Wikipedia estimates that there are now over 200
social networking websites which count millions of members. Friendster alone, open to people 16 and
older, boasts a membership of 80,000,000.

New social networking sites still offer the usual directory services to link up with former consumers a
means to connect with friends, as well as recommender systems. The users of these social networking
sites can create their profile, upload photos, and invite other users to be “friends.” The option to select
who can view their profile, or contact them is just a click of a mouse away through the privacy control

Viral branding in turn make these social networking system very popular and once the virus starts
infecting the people fall a prey to its unique capacity of connecting people and the brands.

These are few types of Viral Branding–

Pass-along: A message which encourages the user to send the message to others. The crudest form of
this is chain letters where a message at the bottom of the e-mail prompts the reader to forward the

Incentivized viral: A reward is offered for either passing a message along or providing someone else's
address. This can dramatically increase referrals. However, this is most effective when the offer
requires another person to take action.

Undercover: A viral message presented as a cool or unusual page, activity, or piece of news, without
obvious incitements to link or pass along. In Undercover Marketing, it is not immediately apparent that
anything is being marketed.

Edgy Gossip/Buzz marketing" ads or messages that create controversy by challenging the borders of
taste or appropriateness. Discussion of the resulting controversy can be considered to generate buzz and
word of mouth advertising. Prior to releasing a movie, some Hollywood movie stars get married, get
divorced, or get arrested, or become involved in some controversy that directs conversational attention
to them.

User-managed database: Users create and manage their own lists of contacts using a database
provided by an online service provider. By inviting other members to participate in their community,
users create a viral, self-propagating chain of contacts that naturally grows and encourages others to
sign up as well.



According to a report just released by Sharpe Partners, a marketing agency, 89% of US adult Internet
users share content with friends, family and associates by e-mail, and they do so often.

The study on viral marketing reported that 63% of the respondents share content at least once a week,
and 25% share daily or almost daily.

The e-mails are also usually shared with more than one person, with some 75% of respondents
forwarding content to up to six other recipients.

What kind of viral content is most popular? In a word, humor.

People seem to love forwarding jokes and cartoons, though the second most popular category sent,
news, is not always funny.

For companies looking to employ a viral marketing program, the study found that adding overt brand
messages only slightly reduces the likelihood that the content will be shared. Over 40% said they are
more or slightly more likely to send marketing-related messages. Only 5% refuse to share content that
contains a clear brand message

In fact, the study identified a group it called "Brand Fans," who are so viral they are contagious. Over
80% of them feel positively about Brand sponsored content shared at least once a week, and 35% share
daily. They are also most likely to share with ten or more people.

Finally it can be concluded that in the present competitive market and in an era of internets, viral
marketing arises as an alternate method of branding and marketing of products with least cost. The very
basic concept works on the basis of WOM (word of the mouth) concept and a part of the success of
viral marketing can be attributed to the socializing pattern of man. Viruses which always has a negative
impact ,has in the contemporary market turned out to be a boon as it results in spreading the very brand
image of the product to an boundless arena.


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