Its nearing the end of the semester and I’m finally on my last blogpost! I thought I’d finish off my blog with a post on viral marketing so that I could hear what you guys think about whether or not there is a “formula” for viral marketing or not!
BUT WHAT IS VIRAL VIDEO MARKETING?
According to Kaplan & Haenlein (2011), Viral marketing is “electronic world of mouth in which some form of marketing message related to a company, brand or product is transmitted in an exponentially growing way, often through the use of social media applications.”
So I’ve chosen to blog about a very known viral marketing video.
This if course would be Volvo’s 2013 campaign that features Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits on two reversing trucks. I’m sure everyone has seen this campaign before either on Facebook, Youtube or even in your Marketing Communications class (because thats where I first saw it!). But incase you haven’t, I’ll just embed it here:
The campaign was produced in order to demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo Dynamic steering. While Volvo’s campaign was ultimately directed at businesses in an attempt at B2B marketing, it also managed to become a hybrid of B2B and B2C as Volvo shifted their focus to the end users who would be the truck drivers themselves, emphasising on the stability and precision of the steering that would ultimately make driving safer and easier. The message was memorable and interesting – which is one of the conditions required by Kaplan & Haenlein (2011).
Here are a few quick facts on the campaign itself:
- Only four weeks after this campaign was released online, it had already taken place as “the most watched automotive commercial on Youtube ever” (MarketWatch, 2013).
- Since today, the 28th May 2015, the video has been viewed on Youtube 79,148,002 times
- It was also declared the big winner by advertising, interactive and brand entertainment (AdWeek, 2014)
- Has been shared over 6 million times over social networks (MarketWatch, 2013).
- World wide media coverage: the commercial was the topic of 20,000 editorial articles by 2013 (MarketWatch, 2013).
- Volvo truck sales rose 31% after the campaign was released (Wall Street Journal, 2013)
But how did viral marketing help create value for Volvo? In an interview with Anders Vilhelmsson, PR director for Volvo Trucks in 2014, he mentioned that
- This campaign was a very small investment with a very large return
- A study conducted with 2,200 commercial truck owners/buyers/drivers said that they were more likely to make Volvo their next truck purchase after viewing the Live Test and Epic split videos
- 33% of the participants then contacted their local Volvo dealership / website to learn more about the company and its products (AdWeek, 2014).
Volvo’s campaign with Van Damme was very different to other viral videos that usually aim to elicit humor (i.e. Dumb ways to die) and emotion (i.e. Dove real beauty sketches), because Volvo created a video that elicited awe. I literally could not blink until the end of the video the first time I watched it, because I did not know what was about to happen. I was left in a state of shock and awe and it was amazing!
BUT DOES THE KAPLAN & HAENLEIN FORMULA WORK?
Source: Kaplan & Haenlein (2011)
If you follow this sequence then yes, the formula really did work for Volvo.
- It created word of mouth and encouraged individuals to share the video on social media (Facebook, Twitter)
- The growth and popularity of this video was very fast as it became “the most watched automotive commercial on Youtube ever” just after four weeks
EXTENTIONS OF THE CAMPAIGN
Shortly after the release of the oh-so viral campaign, many other celebrities made spoof and parody videos such as Chuck Norris and Rob Ford, a politician in Canada. These viral videos would have created even more interest among viewers who would compare the videos among themselves.
In the end, because this was company initiated and the outcome was positive, according to Kaplan & Heinlein, it would be considered a triumph in its own right!
Source: Kaplan & Heinlein (2011)
Let me know what you think about this campaign and the figures! Do you think it was all luck? Or was it formulated for perfection? And what your favourite viral video of all time is!
- Kaplan, A., & Haenlein, M. (2011). Two hearts in three-quarter time: How to waltz the social media/viral marketing dance. Business Horizons, 54(3), 253-263. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2011.01.006