The leading Bollywood web portal, India FM, recently launched a viral marketing campaign for the Abhishek Bachchan-starrer Bluffmaster. Net surfers were lured to play a game, and subsequently informed that they had won a staggering $100,000. And as the winners began to bask in the glory of their newfound fortune, they were told that all of this was mere buffoonery! These users had the option of forwarding this bluff to their friends. Net result: A total of 30,000 users participated in this campaign, and sent it to another 78,000 people.
Slowly but steadily,
India is waking up to the huge potential of viral marketing. Interactive marketing agencies are increasingly trying to maximise the effectiveness of their campaigns through this new form of marketing. Agrees Manish Vij of Quasar Media, an agency that has successfully completed campaigns for Motorola, Samsung and Makemytrip.com: “The rise in media outreach and word-of-mouth beyond users of the same publisher are only some of the benefits of viral marketing. For good campaigns, the increase in reach could even be to the tune of 150 per cent.”
FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp, also launched a region-wide viral marketing campaign in
India recently. Centered on the FedEx ads with comic sketches, some of which are already popular in
India, the campaign aimed at increasing brand awareness and promoting key FedEx brand attributes. The advertisements were available for viewing, download as well as for emailing to friends through a micro-website (www.relaxiwillmanage.com), and were communicated to customers and prospects through banner advertisements on key websites, email communication and the distribution of a CD-ROM. Vij feels that viral marketing campaigns need to have an element of community. As such, viral marketing heavily relies on an individual’s impulse to share information. While in some cases, this might be the result of an incentive, it is also born out of a sense of sharing information with one’s social network. In fact, the uniqueness of a successful viral marketing campaign can be judged by its ability to proliferate itself without any material incentive to the customer. This can be triggered off though humor, privilege (creating exclusive mental and physical spaces) or some other form of emotional appeal. The FedEx campaign, for instance, deployed humor. Google, on the other hand, capitalized on the values of privilege and community to promote its Gmail through viral marketing. The campaign started with a small user base, from which a club was formed leveraging member contacts to expand the user base while retaining the element of exclusivity through special invites, access, passes and so on.
Companies have been smart enough to realize that one of the triggers to create a recall value for brands is by encouraging consumers to actively engage and interact with brands. Corporates are focusing on enhancing the reaction quotient of consumers towards brands. The Internet happens to be one of the most critical media in this regard. This is not confined to entertainment and FMCG categories; technology companies are also deploying this as a useful tool. One of the most recent examples of the successes of viral marketing in
India was Samsung’s campaign to promote the Samsung X series of Notebook PCs. The campaign sought to increase brand awareness among target consumers (Internet users in the 24-45 age group) through an online contest that users were encouraged to participate in and refer to their friends. The prize of the contest was the product itself: the ‘X’ series Notebook PC. This campaign managed to pull 50,000 participants to the site and delivered very good results:
Number of visitors to the demo: 1.42 lakh
Number of friends referred: 76 per cent
Visitors referred who came back to play: 42 per cent
Total interactivity: 1.25 million
Total OTS: 7.1 million
Total unique reach: 5 million
Media reach: 185 per cent
(Source: Volume No. 11, Internet and Mobile Association of
Marketers abroad have already experimented with viral marketing with great success. In
France, Adidas is generating buzz (via JDN) around its brand by targeting soccer fans with an integrated campaign. A website with some funny content featuring popular comedians Omar & Fred is at the centre of the stage, but the campaign idea is to drive 15-24 year-old guys to the Adidas stores around the country. The concept particularly targets the fans of Olympique Marseille (sponsored by Adidas). An email marketing campaign (currently with an amazing 96 per cent opening rate) invites young people to visit the Tyaimesoubien.com website, download a postcard, answer the questions it presents, and deliver it to the local Adidas store for the chance of winning tickets for Olympique Marseille’s matches.
The entertainment industry too is testing the idea flu. For its debut in
France, Desperate Housewives has come up with a site www.husbandsforsale.com that opens a Brave New World for women. The site gives you the opportunity to buy and sell your husband online. You can select him by region, age (over 86-year-olds are also available) and by ‘perfection level’. The site offers great deals and most of all, the delivery is free! In Asia, viral marketing has started picking up in emerging economies such as
India, which has a growing Internet user base and technology penetration. Realizing the potential, companies like Coca-Cola have promoted quite a few interactive features. The company’s website, www.myenjoyzone.com , won the Gold Trophy at ‘The Promotion Marketing Awards of
Asia’. This award along with other brand initiatives, like Internet marketing, SMS viral campaign for Vanilla Coke and on-ground consumer activation across the country, have helped Coca-Cola India emerge the ‘Marketing Company of the Year’. The beverage giant also came up with another feather in its cap: CokeMusic.com. With its focus on being a hub for teenage music lovers, it has managed to get over a million page views a day, an average growth of over 200,000 unique visitors per month, and average visits lasting longer than 25 minutes. In an age where optimum utilization of resources is the only way to survive in an otherwise crazy market, viral marketing is a charming and cost-effective alternative form of promotion. The Indian market, given the state of brand clutter, online explosion and media boom, is ready for a virus attack. For marketers, the option really is to innovate, communicate or to stagnate!