Saturday, 6 February 2010

Viral marketing has to make people feel

Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is 'viral' - how did the RATM campaign work? Why did Alex Tew & MillionDollarHomepage have a hit?

In my previous 'Want to go viral? Learn from Alex Tew & Charlie Simpson' post I discuss how narrative is important. But it occurs to me that narrative is what ALL marketing is at its core. There is always a message. So what differentiation is there between those messages and campaigns that succeed and those that fail?

Well, I think it has to do with the campaign message's ability to speak to people at the level of their hearts. If the message does not arouse passion, anger, emotion it will not propogate. It might be a noble cause but if emotion is not roused, it will fail. Unless you throw money at it of course. But thats expensive and cheating. The message has to make people feel. Anything. Something. The stronger the better.

In the case of the Bravia ads they take colour and make it emotional by intertwining the colour with time. They realised that what makes colour special is not the colour itself but the movement of colour.

In the case of the Barclaycard ads they take the dull timeline of an average days transactions and invoke feeling by superimposing that timeline into adrenaline-fueled opposite timelines.

The results for both brands are stunning.

Now not everyone goes out or online right after watching and gets a Barclaycard or a Bravia but those ads serve to elevate the product to the level of the heart. But more importantly, the value of the entertainment through which the brand and product were delivered takes on value. They give the entertainment great emotional pull itself.

So whether we buy it or not, we talk about it, we share it, we swap it, and generally we do the marketing for them, and so it becomes viral.

So, to give an example of my own. A normal ad for salt might focus on the USPs to do with taste, health, the beauty of the container and so on. An M&S ad perhaps. This is not just any salt, this is M&S salt. Lots of close-ups of the salt. You get the picture.

But if Sony or Barclaycard sold salt the ad might be more about the journey of the grain of salt from its perspective. The vibrancy, the energy, the intertwining with the food. The salt would be positioned as synonymous with the food. You would appreciate life from the grain of salt's point of view. The salt experience would become something aspirational. You would identify with the salt. You may not eat more salt as a result, but we'd all be talking about that ad. And sales of salt would go up overall.



  1. Hey Al, I find myself agreeing with you (again)

    Who wants to buy into crap!? Not me, give me something that touches a part of me and I'm there.

    Holiday brochures, gym memebership flyers, or whatevcer else it is that does the whole "wouldn't you like to be here, be like this, feel like the person in this scene" thing is using a very simple device of get people to warm to you.

    Same applies to friendship too I guess. We like people who like us or show an interest in us or make us feel a certain way. As a result we tend to want to spend time with them. interact with them, etc blah.

    Simple lessons really :)

    p.s comment system on blogger sux ;)

  2. Yet again, Al, you cut through the **** and take us to where it's really at.
    You've certainly inpsired me, this evening.
    No more M&S.
    Here comes the narrative.
    The possibilities are endless. I can't scribble down ideas fast enough.
    Thank you, Mr T. :-)

  3. Glad you liked CJ :) Keep me posted...

  4. Getting them talking: as we say in the States, "there's no such thing as bad publicity."
    I like this - "...Whether we buy it or not, we talk about it, share it..." Amen.