I recently found two pieces of viral marketing that I commissioned at lastminute.com around 2002/2003.
The Office Flirt Test
The idea was to mash up the Excel-based quizzes doing the email rounds in those days and the “how sexy are you” questionnaires omnipresent in women’s magazines – no-one can resist finding out just how fabulous they are.
The fact that the generated flirt profile was 100% random (irrespective of the boxes ticked) just made it all the more marvellous.
Office Flirt Test was conceived and written by Jon Davie and myself. It cost £10 all-in (for the URL) and generated over ten million visits.
The marketing team had loved the then-new breed of barmy animations doing the rounds (especially this one) and wanted to do something similar – again for Valentine’s Day . I commissioned Rob Manuel of b3ta fame to generate something that was both noticeable and loved-up. The result was the quite extraordinary Disco Squirrels…
Learnings I took from these experiences:
- Gotta make the sender look cool
Virals only propogate if the person emailing it thinks the recipient will think them that bit cooler for introducing them to something remarkable
- Hard to repeat
We tried to follow up the flirt test with something similar six weeks later. It went nowhere.
- Keep an ear to the ground
Good marketing always taps into emerging memes – so subscribe to lots of quirky webfeeds.
- Push the boundaries
Both of the ideas would never have got through blinkered management or focus groups. Sometimes you’ve just got to take a flyer. Remember – the great thing about viral marketing is that if it’s rubbish, no-one will know.
I always loved this unhinged techno remix of the Michael Winner e-sure ad. At the time I was managing the Johnny Vaughan launch campaign and still wish I’d given our Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner ad the same treatment.
- Product viral
Truly effective viral marketing is not something separate – it’s embedded in the product. A good example is how “sent from my iPhone” is appended to every email.
The sender doesn’t mind the marketing message as it tells everyone “Look I’ve got an iPhone! Me!!”