Viral Advertising

Greetings peoples of the internet: today I am posting double, like a boss (or a person who forgot to post on time). Any who, while I was researching my last article I came upon an interesting topic no one has touched on yet: viral advertising. With the idea that memes can become copyrighted comes the opportunity to make some serious cash. Images that are openly distributed (like most memes) would be a free way for companies to advertise – or they could pay writers for the service of creating and distributing memes. Imagine that: making a living writing memes.

I can get paid for this crap?

This about the worst thought a student can have during finals season. Anyways, many companies are already using viral advertising. My personal favorites are the Old Spice commercials with Terry Crews. Even Bounce did a shared commercial with Old Spice, which is an interesting idea I haven’t seen before. Viral marketing is not a new idea, however. It has existed in forms separate from entertainment for some time now – this article by Dr. Ralph Wilson on viral marketing techniques was published in 2000, and updated in both 2005 and 2012. The first viral techniques were quite subtle – in the form of links that automatically appeared at the bottom of emails and in other mass-communicable forms. 

However, now when someone thinks of viral advertisements, they think of viral videos. With the huge popularity of viral advertising campaigns such as Old Spice, commercial makers have become very aware of the popularity of entertaining, comedic adverts. Is this a good trend? Let us hear your thoughts, o people.

7 responses to “Viral Advertising

  1. Oh my gosh, speaking of cat memes– there is a company (Cheezburger) that runs the LOLcats website (, and now they even have a TV show on Bravo called LOLwork ( I watched the first episode, and I genuinely can’t imagine my job/career being centered around judging and creating cat memes all day long. Not to mention, now that is enough to constitute a TV show. I can’t decide if it’s ridiculous or awesome, but the meme culture has clearly taken over.

  2. I don’t see what’s so novel about this. Advertising companies have and always will tried to tap into whatever is “cool” in the culture- right now that happens to be “internet culture” and “memes: The only difference is the pervasiveness of the medium and the advent of highly targeted tracking. This also explains why people like you and me come across these ads so often- they are specifically designed to be shown to a very small group of people (high users of the internet).
    Another interesting (and potentially disturbing) are advertising campaigns that take huge lengths to appear as organic, user-generated content- there have been countless examples on various sites over the past few years. This further blurs the line between corporate and private life.

  3. I think that as long as these viral advertising campaigns are tasteful then they’re OK. They’ve been happening for awhile but there’s always that blunder where the companies hire obvious shills to market themselves and it’s really corny — ever see the “All I want for Christmas is a PSP” marketing campaign for Sony? They were advertising their new Playstation Portable device (this was back in like 2004) and they had these two “kids” set up a blog detailing why they wanted PSP so badly. But, the blog also had printable stickers and some obvious signs that it wasn’t these two “kids”, and of course it was some marketing agency behind it.

    The problem with these viral advertising is that it insults the intelligence of its market and grossly misunderstands them. On the other hand, those Old Spice commercials are great! They’re not corny in any way, don’t insult the intelligence of their audience, and are just overall funny — the whole manly man thing is something that can’t really get old, as long as it’s done well.

    Or sometimes some other viral advertising is incredibly subtle… next time you are on Reddit, Digg, or some other link aggregate site, if a link mentions the full name of a company along with a “picture” of, say, a good deed that the company did (for example, if Southwest Airlines gave a free airline ticket to someone who desperately needed it*), there’s a possibility that it’s their marketing department, or another marketing department advertising Southwest Airlines. After all, viral marketing isn’t to get you to go out to buy a product immediately — it’s to make sure you stay continuous aware of their brand, so when you DO need a product, that’s what you think of.

    *This message is in no way endorsed, sponsored, or otherwise associated with Southwest Airlines. Or is it?

  4. I find viral advertising to be an incredibly successful technique used by companies to advertise their product in a way people will remember. The use of viral videos, catchy phrases, and iconic people (like the old spice guy) help people remember the advertisement better, and cause them to be more likely to use the product in the future. A problem I have found with some viral advertisements I remember the advertisement, but not the product being advertised. Also, I recently discovered that the advertisements I see on my email and Facebook are there as a result of websites I have recently visited, or visit often. I ordered my mom a Fossil bag for Christmas, and within seconds my email and Facebook both displayed advertisements for Fossil products; actually, they displayed an ad for the exact bag I bought my mom. Perhaps they hoped their ad would entice me to buy another one for my sister or myself.

  5. The whole goal of advertising is to remind people of the company’s name, so it wouldn’t be surprising major corporations are looking for ways to go viral. If major companies knew Gangnam Style would have been such a big hit, they would have spent tons of money sponsoring the video to put their product into the video. However, how to predict what is going to become viral is always an iffy matter. There’s always a risk since the line between what’s funny and what’s just plain stupid is so thin. I think it’s better to invest in marketing towards people’s own individual interests. This is what Google, Facebook, and a lot of other sites are doing by looking into your history or “likes.” Personalized ads just sounds better than viral ads to me, but that’s just an opinion.

  6. I don’t know how successful it’s been so far, but it seems like a pretty good idea. Most of the cost of advertising goes into buying exposure. If you can design something to go viral, people end up exposing each other to it on a massive scale. So more people see the advertisement (which usually means more people buy the product) and it costs less to disseminate. And the bright side for us is that we are now being entertained by advertisements rather than irritated by them.

  7. I would have to agree with @kellitrimble that viral advertising is a successful technique to spread the word about companies/businesses product. As well there can be a positive and negative affect to back fire those certain companies/businesses by viral advertising. Instead of talking about the funny and simple commercials/ads like the Old Spice guy. Let’s go behind the scene of virtual marketing their advertising videos. For example I came across a blog that how you can pay a company to make a viral advertising or any video viral. They tried to make is funny which makes you really think if it’s real. Here ( is a talked about blog of how “viral marketing gone wrong”. This kind of explains if the likes or fast viral of certain videos are really that good vs. being paid to be number “one”.

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