By 6 years ago in Marketing

The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns Of All Time

Interested in some viral marketing for your business? Contact Branded3 today

Viral marketing campaigns are an amazing way to generate a huge amount of buzz and brand awareness whether they are carried out online or offline.

In this post we have honored the best viral marketing campaigns of all time, both online and offline.

If you know of a campaign that deserves to be on the list why not write about it in the comments.

Ronaldinho: Touch of Gold (Nike)

Without doubt my favourite video on the list is this masterpiece from Nike. Watch as Ronaldinho takes delivery of a new pair of boots and spends over two minutes demonstrating the most amazing football skills the internet has ever seen.

23.5 million people have watched this ad on YouTube. Pure genius.

My Heart Will Go On (Free Macbook Air)

The genius of this video isn’t in the song (that’s just been copied from the Titanic video) it’s in the fact that the user uploaded the video just to promote an affiliate deal.

How many of the 21.9 million users who viewed this clip clicked on the affiliate link I wonder?

Free Macbook

Note that the original video has been removed from Youtube so the one below is a replacement.

Guitar (GuitarMasterPro.net)

This video shows viral marketing in its simplest form. Upload an amazing video clip of a guy playing the guitar, write a quick note saying that he learnt to play the guitar at GuitarMasterPro.net and hope some of the 45 million viewers want to learn to play too.

Dynamite Surfing (Quicksilver)

With a reputed 10 million page views in the first few months of launch this viral advert for Quicksilver took the web by storm and did more to promote the brand than all their other advertising combined.

Of course we know the footage was staged and the surfers were really actors but this didn’t stop the video spreading virally around the web.

Do The Test (Transport for London)

This video has made the list purely because it has seen so many page views in a very short time. In just 3 months over 3.7 million people have viewed the video making it one of the top campaigns of 2008.

Stolen Nascar (TaxBrain.com

Promoting a website about tax is pretty difficult so the marketers behind this stunt decided to get creative.

They staged the theft of a Nascar with their website address on the site and managed to get over $1 million woth of TV exposure totally free within just a few days.

The stunt shot the site into the limelight and it has never looked back.

Working with Napolitan Productions, we brainstormed for a couple of days and concluded that our NASCAR racecar sponsorship had our branding, so we felt it could be the centerpiece in a viral video. Research indicated that a NASCAR had never been stolen by a racing fan, and since these fans truly are fanatical — just maybe a NASCAR could be stolen on lazy summer day at a small racetrack in California. Helping us along this path was the release of the movie ‘Talledega Nights.’ We hired real stuntmen, models and a seasoned reality TV camera crew. We rented the local racetrack to rehearse, clued in racetrack management of our plan, then the following Sunday at a live racing event, the car was “stolen.”

Threshers 40% Off Voucher

In 2006, shortly before Christmas, Threshers leaked a voucher worth 40% off wine and champagne via the internet. Apparently the voucher was only intended for suppliers and the belief that Threshers had mistakenly released the voucher made it spread faster and faster around the world via email, social networks and blogs.

Threshers Voucher

Threshers pretended to be worried about losing money on the promotion but no doubt ended up making a huge profit and getting publicity in a month than they got for the whole year.

“It was never intended to get this big,” a company spokesperson said.

The company admits it is slightly concerned about the popularity of the offer.

“We are waiting with bated breath… Early next week, we should get the figures for what level of business we have seen this week and over the weekend,” the spokesperson added.

“This is a better offer than normal and it could end up hitting our profit margins.”

Subservient Chicken (Burger King)

Launched in 2004 and racking up an amazing 46 million views in the first week Subservient Chicken is deserving of a place on any viral marketing list.

Subservient Chicken

The site, at subservientchicken.com, features a chicken-suit-garbed human embodying the classic BK tagline, “Have it your way.” In a nod to adult “cam” sites, users type in commands and the bird obeys. Visitors are eating it up — and, Burger King hopes, consuming large quantities of its TenderCrisp chicken sandwich as well. The site is part of an integrated campaign for the new product.

“It was important to us to get to the elusive adults in their early twenties and thirties, the 18- to 34-year-old men, the so-called missing men who aren’t watching TV,” said Blake Lewis, a spokesperson for Burger King, which is controlled by Texas Pacific Group. “This audience embraces the Internet.” Lewis said the site got 46 million visits between its launch Wednesday, April 7 and the following Wednesday.

Gorilla Advert (Cadbury’s)

Another recent example of how an amazing advert can get millions more views thanks to the web comes in the form of a gorilla playing the drums for Cadbury’s.

Absolutely fantastic.

Hotmail

In todays era of social networking it’s easy to think how quickly the likes of Facebook and Myspace grew but the real viral marketing pioneer was Hotmail.
In December 1996 Hotmail had 500,000 registered users – less than a year later they had over 12,000,000 users. This astonishing growth rate was down to the fact that every single email sent from Hotmail included a small advert promoting the service in the footer.

Hotmail

By Patrick Altoft. at 9:08AM on Thursday, 12 Jun 2008

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events. Follow Patrick Altoft on Twitter.

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118 Responses to “The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns Of All Time”

  1. [...] van mijn favoriete blogs is BlogStorm van Patrick Altoft. Hij heeft nu op zijn blog een top 10 gemaakt van de leukste viral marketing campagnes. Ze zijn allemaal leuk maar de onderstaande is het [...]

  2. The greatest thing about the Threshers voucher is that it excludes their 3 for 2 offer (equivalent of 33% – see the small print at the bottom of the voucher).

    So all they have done is increase their discount from 33% to 40% to get 800k voucher downloads, get national coverage (including BBC.co.uk), sales increase of 60% for the festive period – and then they did the same thing the next year!

    I should get round to writing a case study about it. Absolutely perfect execution.

  3. Kim Roach says:

    Excellent list of Viral Marketing Campaigns!

    My favorites were the Nike commercial and the Gorilla Advert.

    We are living in such an exciting time on the Web in which social media is enabling content to spread faster than ever.

  4. Ciaran says:

    Thanks for the love for the dothetest campaign. It’s had just under 4 million views on YouTube, but nearer 5.5 million in total (including on the site and the various places it was hosted).

    Regarding the Thresher voucher, my understanding is that it was dreamt up by Hugh Mcleod , partly as an experiment to see the power of blogs with regards to WOM marketing.

  5. Cyrus says:

    Snakes on a Plane?

  6. The Krazy Dane says:

    I think you sould include this viral video made by the Danish Road Safety Council:

    http://speedbandit.dk/

    I was seen by quite a few people around the world as far as I remember…

  7. Jorge says:

    hotmail gained that many users because it was free, and easy to create an account for spammers!

  8. ewa says:

    Amazing list of viral marketing cases. Actually gorilla is my favourite.
    Anybody knows how Titanic case worked?
    Greetings to everyone,
    Ewa

  9. I agree.. Viral marketing is a powerful tool. Done well, it can promote an offer, build a database, and even propel a brand from obscurity to global fame.

  10. Michelle says:

    These is a great list. I thought I would have known them all but half of them I’d never seen before.

    Shows how with it I am!

  11. [...] Dedicated To Amazing Women – (Web Urbanist) The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns Of All Time – (Blogstorm UK) Sex-Swap Hen Stuns Owner By Turning Into A Cockerel – (Daily Mail UK) 20 PS3 Games Sony Needs To [...]

  12. Ozhan says:

    C’omen about hotmail. People dont even read emails fully yet alone read the footer?

    Why hotmail got so many users? It’s because of MSN! I know many people who a MSN addict but rarely uses emailing. (I hate that) I tell them email me a file, they wait for me get online on MSN, grrr…

  13. Nice work.

    Do you think these campaigns will continue to have such amazing success, now that people are aware of the marketing techniques behind them. Surely everyone is much more syndical now.

    Looking forward to seeing what the next big thing is

  14. I tend to think of this topic in a different way. In my opinion the greatest viral marketing campaign of all time was for ‘Blair Witch Project,’ which turned a $60k budgeted film into a $250 million cash cow.

  15. Greg says:

    Hotmail is my favourite, so simple but yet so effective!

  16. Viral Marketing really works to raise brand awareness. Nike and McDonald’s are so popular, yet they advertise with no end.

  17. Ron says:

    The Thresher wine voucher marketing was brilliant viral marketing, wish I could think of something similar, any ideas?

  18. Mark says:

    Hey, great postings!! I did a similar one a couple of months back too!

    http://oldskoolmark.wordpress.com/2008/05/06/great-online-campigns/

    I think the ‘Got Milk” campaign is an all time classic with great ROI. You can check out their new “get the glass” online game!

  19. hotmail virtually kicked off the signature marketing in emails

    every email that is sent from hotmail is finished with a signature inviting the receiver to join hotmail.. absolutely brilliant

  20. [...] The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns Of All Time [...]

  21. Reviewriches says:

    Nike was a good one and it clearly shows that we need to have out of box thinking to get us going.

  22. Ad Maven says:

    What about the Ray-Ban viral video
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=-prfAENSh2k
    That was brilliant.

  23. Lee Duncan says:

    Probably the easiest style of viral marketing for a small business to copy is the Thresher coupon. All you have to do is find the right offer and give something extra, or free, and you can have people sharing the info with their friends.

    To Ron at Piling Equipment – I had a quick look at your website to figure out if there’s an easy way to use a similar approach for your business. How about giving away something related to your industry – a free piling training guide, or something? Knowledge is a great thing to share for free as it costs you nothing to give away and has huge value to your potential customers.

    Give me a shout if you want some more ideas…

    Cheers,

    Lee

  24. Great list, one I might add to the list is the “Will It Blend” videos. A small blender company with incredible customer service finally gets on the map for blending up action figures, tools, and electronics…brilliant.

  25. NatureLimit says:

    This topic in a different way. In my opinion think ofthe greatest viral marketing campaign of all time was for ‘Blair Witch Project.

  26. Hillel says:

    As they say – good ideas – spread!

  27. giudaspri says:

    Interesting to Viral Marketing:

    “First inspire, then play”

    Frank Magdans 19.07.2008
    The maker of Internet puzzles Aladygma about indie games, web art and Viral Marketing
    http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/28/28298/1.html

  28. [...] worthwhile reviewing some of the other classic viral campaigns from the past. This link provides 10 really good examples including: Quicksilver’s Dynamite Surfing, Burger King’s Subservient Chicken and [...]

  29. [...] video is from Nike, and it successfully attracts more than 23.5 million people to watch it. Click here to see the top ten viral marketing campaign of all time! However, some researches have thought [...]

  30. Thanks a lot for this post, these are such great videos.

    Best from Munich!

  31. holidayguardian.com says:

    it is very good… i am very much interested in new marketing ideas. I have to say the thresher 40% was one of the best i have come across. simple easy and very effective, and the hotmail i would say is one of my fav. I hope we can run a similar one and same results soon.

  32. Blonder says:

    Ha s anyone seen this: http://www.irememberthefuture.com ?Rumour has it this is part of a Puma guillarra marketing campaign. What looks like a Rutger Hauer Fansite — Mr. Hauer happily chatting away about life and his work in a …. Puma joggingpak. Rumour was denied by Sara Gottman (Puma’s Head of International Public Relations) “We are in no way whatsoever affiliated with mr. Hauer nor with this website and its content.” But it seems fun and well set up, like the mysterious campaign by BMW (The Ramp)

    http://www.irememberthefuture.com

  33. [...] pretends she is dating you and in a video she shows a tattoo of your name on her ass. Clever. Viral Marketing – The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns Of All Time That’s an article of some video’s – I don’t think they are amazing as I prefer one’s where we can [...]

  34. [...] The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns of All Time: Patrick Altoft reviews the most popular YouTube videos and explains why they rock. [...]

  35. [...] The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns of All Time Patrick Altoft, Blogstorm | 6/12/08 [...]

  36. Allen says:

    The Dark Knight?

  37. [...] Review each campaign from Patrick’s List through this link: Top 10 Viral Campaigns of All Time: [...]

  38. [...] the Subservient Chicken to Hotmail, the post highlights memorable and profitable campaigns. Click here to view the list, offer your own personal picks, and get [...]

  39. Joy-Fleur says:

    Hi there,
    Great page! I’ve referenced you in my blog, thanks for this informative overview!

  40. [...] present a top 10 ten list of viral marketing campaigns where the Nike clip takes the leading [...]

  41. Great Article and Top 10 List, Patrick! :)

    Thank you for compiling and sharing this with all of us! :)

    Yes, the HotMail “model” is a Great example of a Super Viral Marketing Strategy! :)

    What about Microsoft’s strategy of getting their OS pre-installed on PC’s?! ;)
    Another Great Viral Marketing Strategy IMHO and just look at the results! ;)

    Thank you again for the Great Article, Patrick and Everyone Have a Great Day! :)

  42. Nice list! But just one slice, as there are lots more efforts that should rank on this list, because of their overall impact via number of comments, pass alongs, word of mouth, etc..

    Is the measure of “viral” simply video views on youtube – shouldn’t it be some other more all encompassing “engagement metric”? (Sorry)

    I’d add more efforts like Hotmail, as well as campaigns — and ARGs — to balance out single viral videos. Frequently videos simply serve as a tactic in a larger integrated campaign. How about including I Love Bees? Perplex City, Or Court TV’s Emily gag?

    And of course I agree with Innovation Catalyst about Blair Witch, since it was created by some of my partners.

  43. [...] UK Top 10 Viral marketing campaigns of all time Top 12 Stunning WordPress Themes [...]

  44. hayden says:

    well wicked video’s cool and funky

  45. [...] reference, here is a list of The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns Of All Timecompiled by Patrick Altoft. I hope you enjoy those and you may want to let me know which one you [...]

  46. Free domain says:

    Youtube is a big source of free viral marketing.

  47. Asa says:

    These viral marketing campaigns are very creative. I really liked the Ronaldinho one. Marketing on the internet is really amazing because of how fast things like this can spread.

  48. [...] Viral Marketing at it’s Best!! Jump to Comments I was checking out my twitter account and came across this really cool list of Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns Of All Time. [...]

  49. Scott Meleskie says:

    Audi’s Art of the Heist Campaign was just ridiculous (and brilliant)… particularly for the fact that the planning required to pull this off is just mind blowing. Audi really should be applauded for taking such a big risk by putting out this campaign.
    http://www.campfirenyc.com/2006/10/10/audi-the-art-of-the-heist/

  50. [...] n Viral Marketing – The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns Of All Time [...]

  51. [...] Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns of all time [...]

  52. I really like Viral Marketing because it is very creative. Apart from that, this type of marketing can really help you with Ecommerce nowadays. Through this type of marketing you can get a lot of publicity and earn a lot of traffic for your business. Viral amrketing + SEOs can immediately put you to the top although it depends on how you are planning to use it and what you have to offer.

  53. Very Nice and informative post…

  54. Cody Hobbs says:

    There are some great viral videos but I wouldn’t categorize the Celine Dion one as as viral marketing per se (at least according to the definition at Viral Marketing Wiki) yes it’s viral but not marketing for the product.

  55. Peter says:

    I’m not sure I’d want the boots like Ronaldinho, he keeps hitting the post.

  56. [...] Viral Marketing – The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns Of All Time (tags: viral marketing socialmedia advertising) [...]

  57. Threshers campaign was just brilliant…even i thought i was lucky to get a copy….now how could one use that for a fashion magazine?

    thanks anyway!!

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  60. Magnolia Medina says:

    Hello guys,

    I am doing a research on viral marketing. If you want to participate, please click this link:

    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=kir1HOU0ur4YjWIbqTy1QQ_3d_3d

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  61. [...] The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns of All Time: Patrick Altoft reviews the most popular YouTube videos and explains why they rock. [...]

  62. Ariel says:

    I’d like to add the emily’s billboards and blog to this list, http://thatgirlemily.blogspot.com/
    The New York times also did an interesting article on the campaign
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/24/business/media/24billboard.html

  63. [...] The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns Of All Time – want to market a product? heres how its done. [...]

  64. walterpike says:

    The thing about the Treshers campaign was that its wasn’t theirs.

    Stormhoek Wines made it viral through their blog picking up on an opportunity unwittingly created by Threshers.

    I refer to the Treshers campaign under the title Stormhoek Viral.

  65. juan says:

    Where is crazy german kid lol…And…The obama girl? or whopper freakout or even fifa street

    More examples here http://www.juanmarketing.com/los-10-top-virales-de-2008/2008/12/31/

    hi to all marketing passionated

  66. [...] Top 10 Viral Marketing Videos Of All Time Subjective, to be sure, but the gorilla still kills me. What the heck was the point of that? Dig through the comments, too. There’s one Ray-Ban video that’s pretty clever. Article w/ videos. Courtesy of @pixmo. [...]

  67. Ron says:

    TRY TO LOOK a group into FACEBOOK’s called:
    ORGASMATIC!!
    i think its a bit viral!!

  68. Tom says:

    That’s a nice list, I guess Comparethemarket would have a place now.
    Alpro soya have a viral out at the moment. Check it out at – http://www.alproangelordevil.co.uk/

  69. Preston says:

    Looking to try some viral marketing campaigns for http://www.BullWarriorStocks.com in the next few months. Thanks for the great advice.

  70. Nikhilsagar says:

    These viral marketing campaigns are very useful.
    I really liked the method of viral marketing.
    Marketing on the internet is really amazing.

  71. Awesome! First you get the fame, then you get the money. Going viral should be the first thing you do before you even create your full product. Steps: 1 Go Viral 2 Build List 3 Sell. The viral step creates fame and brands you…gets the word out so that when you actually hit the scene with a list build offer or sell offer…it’s easy to get attention, otherwise you are white noise in a sea of white noise.

  72. nivekinc says:

    I am just starting out in internet marketing i’ve heard about viral marketing but i have been running a cross scam this information sound true. Thanks

  73. Oli says:

    I’m just embarking on my first (intentional) viral marketing campaign. I’m creating content and sprinkling it in the right places to grow… the only problem I’m having is convincing my boss that it will work given time. Very tough.

  74. SysComm says:

    Very good choice! Although there are so many other amazing virals as well….But since you had to choose 10, it was quite normal to miss some.

  75. [...] his who ran a skip hire business. For more reading on great virals, have a look at this guy’s top 10 viral campaigns…I’m proud to say that my team and I managed the Threshers voucher campaigns and their [...]

  76. Secret-Pie says:

    Good posting – my fave of all time is the 24 viral from 3 years ago…which I believe (rightly or wrongly) that Branded3 had a part in building, or is that a myth?

    I’ve referenced that campaign and this article in my Top 13 Digital Events post.

    Nice to see the Threshers campaign up there – they were a digital client of mine at the time and my team and I managed this viral work etc for them….it went ridiculously well, so well that it’s funny how many people and businesses try and attach themselves to it who definately weren’t working for Poulters or Threshers at the time…hey ho!

  77. [...] high success rate.  Everybody wanted a piece of this easily accessible service that was FREE.  Viral Curve mentioned that it costed them $500,000 in 2 years to gain 12,000,000 subscribers.  Not a bad ROI [...]

  78. wow that’s a fantastic blog post, thanks a lot. It’s amazing how some of these adverts and videos can create millions of views, it just goes to show how that one simple idea can generate into something big.

  79. [...] The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns Of All Time by Blogstorm SEO Blog [...]

  80. [...] found these few articles: 1. Wikipedia 2. Wilson Web Some good examples of viral marketing: 1. from blogstorm.co.uk 2. How to sell a soap (youtube [...]

  81. Amelia says:

    I like all ideas of viral marketing campaigns. I like your list too but the way you prove your list “the top 10″ seems not persuasive. Thanks anyway for your info ;)

  82. Anna says:

    Just saw a new viral spot “Planemob” from a german low-cost airline on facebook. Quite funny;-)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwM8bQ7Sk-A

  83. Great videos, brilliant post

  84. Jack Pot says:

    Great article on viral marketing and the best ever campaigns. I put together a piece entitled HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE BASIC ELEMENTS OF VIRAL MARKETING TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE which you can take a look at. It gives you some great ideas about how you can use viral marketing to improve the exposure of your products!

  85. simran011 says:

    A very good article with excellent examples!! I have created a website which also aids in the explanation of viral marketing! Head on over to http://www.artofviralmarketing.com and please leave some comments!

  86. The Cadburys gorilla ad has to be one of the greatest ads of all time

  87. mike says:

    Excellent post – thanks. Can vial marketing to work for a service in a B2B environment, if so, how would you do so please??

  88. looking for a viral marketing idea, have you got one?

  89. I could do with thinking up a viral campaign for my wholesale company, any ideas?

  90. Thanks for sharing this i have been looking for some great examples of viral marketing and this has helped loads.

  91. [...] Viral marketing (free) For definition is a marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message. But how do you encourage people to share an advertisement? The answer is simple, we must make the message attractive and acceptable. Make it fun, ridiculous, outrageous, etc.. The important thing is that message talk about himself in the web and create buzz (noise) and therefore publicize the brand. Here are examples of viral marketing: Video viral Top Ten – Viral Marketing Examples over the Last Decade – Viral marketing campaingns [...]

  92. Koowie says:

    When you don’t have a big budget, sometimes viral marketing is your one shot to make it. Of course you still have to have a good product to make the viral catch on.

  93. The subservient chicken video is brilliant!

  94. Herat Patel says:

    awesome the gorilla`s video now i am also doing like this using viral marking in seo thanks for sharing this knowledge.

    thanks

  95. GaryR says:

    Hahaha great post! I remember stumbling onto Subservient Chicken for the first time, its rather creepy!

  96. Love the Cadbury’s Gorilla ad fantastic idea and one of the greatest songs of all time

  97. I looove the Ronaldinho vid!

  98. When you don’t have a big budget, sometimes viral marketing is your one shot to make it.

  99. These viral marketing campaigns are really brilliant. They capture the minds and hearts of people. It’s amazing how marketers predict the future behaviors of people.

  100. phone system says:

    Viral marketing is one of those things that you can sit there all day and think about and get nowhere, but when you read about someone else’s successful effort you wonder how you did not think of that.

  101. [...] better than paper based coupons.  They have a huge reach and return.  See the reach that Threshers had with their very successful viral coupon campaign and the associated commentary here and here wondering whether it was a genuine mistake or [...]

  102. Jesica says:

    Thanks for sharing best list of Viral Marketing Campaigns! I am also working same as using viral marking in search engine optimization.

  103. Juegos Wii says:

    Viral marketing is the best impresion about democracy. We can all participate by having all the same chances on getting there

  104. Nice list by by Patrick Altoft The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns Of All Time. Really it captures the minds and hearts of people

  105. I’ve gleaned some ideas from these viral marketing campaigns that I can use for my business. Thanks!

  106. arthisoft says:

    That’s really helpful videos, and thanks for sharing with us. I really thankful to you for sharing.

  107. We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your site provided us with valuable info to work on. You have done an impressive job and our whole community will be grateful to you.

  108. Viralplanet says:

    I think that companies and brands will benefit from the move from tradtion to online markering methods and viral campaigns.

  109. Viral Planet says:

    Viral marketing is now making a big impact in the video world and companies such as viral planet are making a smash into this industry with great videos and online mareting campaigns.

  110. Gayle says:

    Fantastic videos! Definitely gave me some inspiration! :-)

  111. Frank DeLuca says:

    Great examples of viral campaigns.

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