Viral Phenomena and Corporations: Identification, Proliferation, and Capitalization
Viral Phenomena and Corporations:Identification, Proliferation,and CapitalizationBy Trevor Robinson
As the Internet becomes the most popular form ofmedia for our generation, so to has it become themost important medium for advertising.
As a result, corporations are increasingly turning tothe Internet as a means to promote new products orincrease brand awareness.
One popularmethod of doingso is through theuse of viraladvertising.
The goal of viral advertising is to facilitate:1) Buzzmarketing: Through p2p communications2) eWOM: Electronic word-of-mouth (Petrescu&Korgaonkar, 2011)
Some corporations havebeen very successful increating original marketingmaterial that is innovative,provocative, or humorous.The refreshing nature ofthese campaignscontribute to theirvirality.
However, other corporations have merely latched onto the popularity of existing viral phenomena to boosttheir own recognition.
So how do thesecompanies accomplishthis?Two main branchestowards capitalizationcan be identified.
The 1st branch is identifying the exact viralphenomenon to capitalize on.
This can be done by recognizing when an existingentity is “pre-viral”, meaning it is about to, or hasthe potential to be very popular with the rightpromotion, to a brand‘s benefit.
The record label for a little-known DJ named Baauernoticed that hilarious fan videos using his song,―Harlem Shake‖ could go viral if promoted.When it did, all the royalties went to them, the songrocketed to the top of iTunes, and Bauuer played theCoachella Festival this year.
Or, a brand mightalign themselves witha concept that hasalready gone viral, ina formal partnership.Chevrolet built on the popularity of the band OKGO‘s unique music videos by funding a high-budgetvideo featuring a new model, the Sonic.
But some brands simply ride the coattails of a viralphenomenon without adding to it creatively.Wonderful Pistachios was criticized for an unoriginalSuper Bowl commercial featuring Psy.
The 2nd branch ofcapitalization isproliferation of thephenomenon a brandwishes to go viral.
To build initial popularity online, brands use newmediaforms to spread pre-viral entities.Baauer‘s record company usedtheir large and influentialTwitter following to sparksharing of the ―Harlem Shake‖.
Corporations may also put out advertisements intraditional media settings that have been scientificallydesignedto get people talking about them, andultimately sharing online.
For some brands, acampaign is simplybuying exposure byaffixing themselves toweb personality.For example, in 2007, Dr Pepper sponsored theTayZonday video ―Cherry Chocolate Rain‖.
The reality is that most online marketing campaignsplan to ensure some virality, eg. purchasing apromoted trend on Twitter.
So, whatis the overallimpact of thesedevelopments in thecurrent web climate?
Regardless of whether the virality of phenomena arealways legitimate, people will still watch original,entertaining content in large numbers.
And brands that are quick or misguided in theirattempt to ride viral coattails often feel backlash.Recently, McDonald‘s was criticized for supportingCharles Ramsey, the Cleveland kidnapping hero, whenhis criminal history came to light.
Some viral entities on the Internetstill remain untouched bycorporate interests.
But we now know the viral spreadof every phenomenon is notalways so organic.
Image Credits(All images licensed under Creative Commons license and sourced from flickr)Slide and flickr user:1. Koria.net2. mrlerone3. Mauryn Flynn-Burhoe4. Robert Raines5. Sharron Mollerus6. AloneAlbatross7. Alexander Becker8. imjustcreative9. Michael Bartlett10. Marie. L.11. Ian Muttoo12. smaedli13. sitemarca14. Lifesupercharger15. Scott Beale16. ifmuth17. The Bui Brothers18. Christopher S. Penn19. Stuck in Customs20. Wellington City Council21. Poster Boy NYC22. MANIC! Photography23. IIHd
References (1 of 2)Clark, T. (2012, Sept 12). The Top 10 Viral Marketing Disasters – Part 1 (10-6). Retrievedfrom http://www.lakestarmccann.com/blog/technology/the-top-10-viral-marketing-disasters-part-1-10-6/Clark, T. (2012, Sept 14). The Top 10 Viral Marketing Disasters – Part 2 (5-1). Retrievedfrom http://www.lakestarmccann.com/blog/general-news/viral-marketing/top-10-viral-marketing-disasters-part-2-5-1/Guarino, M. (2013, May 14). What does McDonalds do now with Cleveland hero CharlesRamsey? Alaska Dispatch. Retrieved fromhttp://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130514/what-does-mcdonalds-do-now-cleveland-hero-charles-ramseyKeath, J. (2010, Jul 21). Behind the Curtain of Old Spices Viral Video Mega Hit. SocialFresh. Retrieved from http://socialfresh.com/old-spice-viral-videos/Luckerson, V. (2013, Feb 4). Wonderful Pistachios, PSY — Wonderful Pistachios GetCrackin‘. Time. Retrieved from http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/02/04/the-best-and-worst-super-bowl-commercials-of-2013/slide/wonderful-pistachios-psy-wonderful-pistachios-get-crackin/
References (2 of 2)Petrescu, M., &Korgaonkar, P. (2011). Viral advertising: Definitional review andsynthesis. Journal of Internet Commerce, 10(3), 208-226.Sanburn, J. (2013, Feb 4). Testing the Science of Sharing at the Super Bowl: Can Viral AdsBe Manufactured?. Time. Retrieved from http://business.time.com/2013/02/04/testing-the-science-of-sharing-at-the-super-bowl-can-viral-ads-be-manufactured/Tesseras, L. (2013, Apr 11). Gangnam Style marketing. Marketing Week. Retrieved fromhttp://www.marketingweek.co.uk/trends/gangnam-style-marketing/4006173.articleTuttle, B. (2013, May 08). The Charles Ramsey-McDonald‘s Episode: How a ViralMarketing Opportunity Can Backfire. Time. Retrieved fromhttp://business.time.com/2013/05/08/the-charles-ramsey-mcdonalds-episode-how-a-viral-marketing-opportunity-can-backfire/Wiancko, R. (2010, Jul 15) And the ‗Oldspice Maneuver‘ is created, blows the doors off ofadvertising. http://ryanwiancko.com/2010/07/15/and-the-oldspice-maneuver-is-created-blows-the-doors-off-of-advertising/