We can all remember a marketing campaign that stuck in our heads. A catchy slogan, a memorable song, or an advert that makes you laugh each time you see it.
There are many different marketing techniques to capture an audience and make your brand memorable. But what makes your campaign more memorable than any other business?
We’ve listed some of the best examples of marketing campaigns that went viral, so you’ve got some inspiration for your next campaign to increase your brand awareness and draw in some new customers.
Before we cover some examples of effective campaigns, we need to know what a viral marketing campaign is.
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What is a viral marketing campaign?
A viral marketing campaign is a marketing campaign that has proven to be very successful, is well known, and is shared by many viewers.
Most of the time, nobody can determine if their campaign will go viral and not all viral campaigns require a massive marketing budget. It’s often a random occurrence and cannot be planned for. But, learning from viral campaigns and what made them effective will improve your chances.
Let’s discover some viral marketing campaigns that you might remember.
1. Nike – Just Do It
The famous Nike Just Do It slogan was first used in 1987. The forcefulness and commanding tone of the slogan have shown to be extremely effective in forming the Nike brand. It’s now associated with Nike across the world and even printed on many of its products, alongside the well-known Nike tick logo.
The slogan is forward but also quite an open statement allowing each person who hears or reads it to associate it with their own circumstances. This is one of the reasons the original Nike “Just do it” campaign was successful when it was released over three decades ago. Anyone can relate to it, therefore, broadening your target audience.
The Just Do It campaign has spawned dozens of viral videos over the years. Check it out below – and see more like this in our roundup of the best Nike marketing campaigns of all time. One of my personal favorites is Dream Crazier, which celebrates female athletes who have broken down barriers throughout history. Check it out below.
2. Manscaped – Lawn Mower 4.0 Snooker Commercial
Manscaped offers products that are commonly required but not something that people tend to openly talk about. Manscaped’s viral marketing campaigns are great examples of how you could create viral content.
It has advertised its brand like no other, using a taboo subject and openly talking about what its product provides but with humor, which has proven to be very popular.
The comical side to their commercials makes them memorable and worth sharing with friends. Using this technique is often one of the best ways to go viral as the joke will be remembered.
Check out the Manscaped snooker commercial for their Lawn Mower 4.0.
3. Snickers – You’re Not You When You’re Hungry
Similarly to Nike, Snickers has used a slogan that will forever be associated with Snickers. The slogan has been used across most of their branding, and for such a simple sentence, it’s memorable.
Snickers has lots of competitors within the chocolate bar industry, which is why they need to stand out from the rest.
They’ve used their slogan to make countless funny adverts where the actor acts differently or changes character because they’re hungry. Once they’ve eaten a Snickers, they go back to their normal self. Using their slogan and turning it into a comedy is genius advertising.
Back in 2017, Snickers made a fun play on this line with a billboard that read: “You’re Forgetful When You’re Hungry”. Surely one of the best Valentine’s Day ads of all time!
It meant that Snickers not only went viral for its slogan but for its many adverts since the slogan was first used.
4. Pepsi – Halloween Advertising
I’m sure we’re all aware of the rivalry between Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Over the years both brands have created campaigns that slyly mention their competitor. But, this well-known commercial, which went live back in October 2013, has been remembered ever since.
This bold campaign indirectly bashes Coca-Cola as being ‘scary’ as the Pepsi can is wearing a Coca-Cola branded cape as a Halloween costume. It was found to be a funny way of comparing their brand. Pepsi used the advantage of a holiday that’s mainly used for advertising candies or horror films and produced a creative and unforgettable advert.
5. L’Oréal – Because You’re Worth It
The celebrated L’Oréal Because You’re Worth It campaign was initially created to support more than just brand awareness for L’Oréal, but to support women. With over 50 years of campaigning for women’s health and beauty using this slogan, their mission of celebrating and empowering women has been achieved over the years. Yet the campaigning continues.
First designed in 1971, this tagline was one of the first ever that brought self-confidence and women’s strength to the frontline. The heartfelt message has since been translated and used in 40 languages around the world so everyone can feel empowered.
Many celebrities have been the face of the slogan over the years – Kate Winslet, Eva Longoria, Helen Mirren, and Camilla Cabello to name a few. You can check out Kate Winslet’s viral L’Oréal advert here.
Using their brand name to support an important subject has proven to be successful for not just their brand, but for the cause they’re promoting. Take advice from L’Oréal and raise awareness through your marketing.
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6. Oreo – Dunk In The Dark Campaign
During the 2013 Super Bowl, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome had a massive power outage. Oreo came up with what seems to be quite a simple social media campaign and was quick to jump on this event.
They tweeted a black-and-white picture that featured an Oreo. The image said, “You can still dunk in the dark”. The image was tweeted with the caption “No power? No problem”. The tweet went viral in no time with thousands of likes and retweets.
This campaign had no advert, no massive viral marketing campaign plan, and was probably created at a minimal cost. Spending the big bucks doesn’t always mean success.
Want to see more from Oreo? Check out our roundup of the best cookie package designs.
7. McDonald’s – I’m Lovin’ It
Although McDonald’s has been around since 1955, the famous I’m Lovin’ It slogan wasn’t released until many years later in 2003. McDonald’s message is to help people make ‘delicious feel-good moments easy for everyone’.
The I’m Lovin’ It slogan was seen to represent the brand’s message well as people reported how it reminded them that McDonald’s was a part of their daily lives. The short but simple slogan is easy to read and easily translated into different languages, which is better for global brand awareness if that’s what you’re after.
The McDonald’s M logo, also known as the golden arches, is known worldwide. Once again, a simple creation, yet branding that works. The logo is featured in most McDonald’s marketing campaigns, but it’s really in your face in this one from 2021. Get it?
8. Just Eat – Did Somebody Say Just Eat
The advert that’s stuck in everyone’s heads this year. Just Eat teamed up with American singer and songwriter Katy Perry to create a catchy song for their business.
The song features the line “Did somebody say Just Eat” which is used in the same way someone might say “did somebody say a takeaway”. It’s a play on how Just Eat provides takeaway orders and delivery, so instead of saying you fancy a takeaway, you’d say you fancy a Just Eat.
Whilst I’m sure this campaign came with a huge marketing budget, it only proves that with a catchy tune and a play on words, the audience will never forget Just Eat.
9. Cadbury’s – Gorilla
The classic Cadbury’s gorilla. I’m sure if you asked, most people would remember this commercial from 2007.
The familiar song ‘In the air tonight’ by Phil Collins was played over the advert as a gorilla played the drums for the song. The advert ends with the line “a glass and a half full of joy”, indicating that the gorilla has eaten Cadbury’s and it brought ‘joy’.
The advert was named by Marketing Magazine as the UK’s favorite advert. Even though it’s a bit on the wild side, it was loved by its viewers.
The director for this popular advert even announced years later that it was originally shot down after being told he could never show it. But, when it was presented to the rest of the team, it struck a chord with them and gave an immediate reaction. This proves that a campaign that’s out of the norm and brings emotion to the viewer can be extremely effective.
The combination of its creativity, a catchy well known song, and a crazy life-like gorilla, all make this a fantastic commercial and Cadbury’s confirmed it increased their profit.
10. We Buy Any Car – Just Sold My Car
The We Buy Any Car campaigns are usually quite popular. Whatever advertising agency they’re using, their competitors should definitely be considering them. Each commercial features a catchy tune that you’ll later associate with that brand.
One of the most recent fan favorites is the “Just sold my car” commercial. This advert featured a remake of the song ‘Friday’ by Riton & the Nightcrawlers. The song ‘Friday’ had recently gone viral, so jumping on this and making it once again viral (but with your brand), is smart advertising. It’s catchy, fun, and will be remembered when anyone mentions this company.
They wanted their new ad, which began filming in 2022 with TikTok star Mufasa, to be something fun, exciting, and a bit different from their previous adverts. They aimed to put a smile on people’s faces which we can all confirm that this commercial certainly has.
11. Domino’s – Domin-oh-hoo-hoo
The newly released Domino’s advert for the UK and ROI represents their target audiences – friendship groups. Most people usually order Domino’s in pairs or groups to get the best deals. This is why targeting this audience is a genius way to bring in more customers.
The 2021 commercial was Domino’s introducing the group ordering feature available via the app that allows you and your friends to select a specific order on their phone, and send it across to the person who’s ordering. This feature eliminates the need to wait half an hour for your friend to scroll through the menu to decide on what they’d like to order.
This video includes the Domino’s Domin-oh-hoo-hoo call used in multiple of their commercials in more recent years. The clever marketing advert shows their service, a new feature that’s launching, and the Domino’s slogan all in one.
12. Red Bull – Red Bull Gives You Wings
Red Bull’s marketing slogan “Red Bull gives you wings’ ‘ has a message that it will give you the ‘wings’, or in other words the energy, that you need to complete your task or get through the rest of the day.
Like McDonald’s, over the years it’s become known for their slogan and tends to include it in most of their marketing.
Their slogan is usually paired with a commercial showing an intense task, for example, jumping out of an airplane. The idea behind these styles of adverts is that it gave the character featured in the video the energy and confidence to carry out that intense job.
They tend to be very consistent with their marketing strategy as it’s worked for over 30 years and continues to promote their name.
13. M&M’s – Bedroom Affair
This M&M’s advert, similarly to the Manscaped advert, is a comedic commercial that indicates a more adult-themed tone. It has shock value and is entertaining to watch.
The advertising agency for this advert announced the short video as the theme of “Love is for sharing, or is it?”. M&M’s seems to produce recurring adverts of more adult themes, but the repetition of these style videos is clearly working!
It comes across as a soap opera-style show and portrays how tempting M&M’s really are. So, maybe you should consider shock value for your next marketing campaign.
Bonus campaign – ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
The ALS ice bucket challenge began to raise awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
The point of the challenge was to donate money to the ALS association, or a similar charity, and throw a bucket of ice cold water over yourself. You’d then nominate friends on social media to also take part.
The challenge had all the celebrities getting involved which only made it go even more viral.
How does a viral marketing campaign spread on social media channels?
Let’s look at some of the common factors that can help your next marketing campaign go viral.
Many of these successful campaigns have a well-known slogan that is now associated with that brand. It improved their brand awareness and started not only a viral campaign but also a viral brand.
Two of the top emotions for most people are joy and happiness. This is why comedic campaigns are so successful. Producing something funny increases the likelihood that your campaign will be shared around, and therefore go viral.
Just think back to how many times you’ve seen a funny video or meme and sent it to a friend. Funny sells!
Another common factor you’ll see in campaigns that have gone viral is something catchy. This could be anything from a song to a dance.
This route can sometimes come with people finding the campaign irritating, as I’m sure we’ve all been annoyed after getting an advert stuck in our heads for weeks. But, this strategy does work.
Catchy campaigns lead to brand awareness and people remembering your business when they’re next after a service that you provide.
The key to having a well-thought-out and famous campaign is organized planning. You need to be strategic when it comes to releasing a big campaign like the examples we’ve listed. If one of these goes viral, this is how your brand will be remembered.
Ensuring all of your marketing team are on the same page, planning your campaigns from start to finish, and making sure you have valid reasons for all of your decisions, will avoid mistakes and guarantee that all of the important stakeholders for the project are happy if your next project does become a success.
The best viral marketing campaigns tap into current events like the Super Bowl. And if you need help getting assets signed off fast, marketing approval software can help.
Check out marketing campaign management software, to help you make your next marketing campaign viral.
Make the sign-off process for your next project sleek and simple with marketing software for sharing files, live campaign status updates, clear stakeholder feedback services, and so many more features. Reduce your feedback and sign-off time, and speed up your overall campaign management process.
Considering the route you want to take with your campaign can help improve the chances of going viral. You’ll need to consider aspects like your resources, budgets, team size, if you’re going to create videos or images in-house or using an external agency, and what kind of tools or software you’ll need to assist you with creating the next best brand campaign.
With luck, these examples of successful viral marketing campaigns will assist you in making your next campaign a hit! Hopefully one day your campaign will be on this list next to big brands like Pepsi and Cadbury’s.