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Viral Marketing Initiatives

Written by Chris


in Website Design

Shouldn’t You Be Happy?

Every marketer’s dream is to have their campaign go viral, right? Not so fast, there are many situations where companies wish they could have stopped it when the campaign didn’t go as expected. Take Peloton for example, they launched an ad for their exercise bike perfectly timed for the holidays. A wife receiving a Peloton from her husband, how dreamy – what could go wrong? Well, her facial expression for one made her look scared instead of pleasantly surprised, the fact that she is already very thin and the campaign was called the Gift that Gives Back ultimately resulted in the ad being deemed sexist and went viral. Click here to see a news clip on the ad Click here to see a news clip on it

A Different Approach and Better Outcome

Dove took a much better approach with their Real Beauty Campaign, going out and asking girls what they like about their bodies which typically got a hesitant response, if any. The beautiful and heartwarming approach to this campaign was their friend waiting along side them to quickly jump in and point out a beautiful attribute. You can see the campaign here

Attributes for a Successful Viral Campaign

In the above, you were shown two very contrasting campaigns that went viral. Hubspot recommends these attributes to increase an onlines campaign of going viral:

  • It appeals to a target audience
  • Has a strong visual appeal
  • Highly creative
  • Emotional
  • Shareable
  • Timing
  • Luck (I added this one)

Comparing the two campaigns, I would say both did target specific audiences. Peloton’s demographic is ages 35-65 while Dove’s is 18-35. I do find it interesting because I would have guessed Peloton’s demographic would have been younger but since they start at $2,000 it makes sense. And I would have thought Dove would target a slightly older audience.

Each campaign has a strong visual appeal, but Dove was more versatile in video and photo. Due to the facial expression of the actress in the Peloton commercial, photos would not have been ideal. I have to give the edge to Dove, especially with the sketch ads.

Both are creative, but I do have to question if Peloton did a test marketing before running these ads. While I would not have anticipated such a strong reaction it’s always a good thing to do. I wonder if they learned their lesson for this upcoming season? While very different, I would say creativity is a tie.

The commercials are very emotional, Dove definitely pulled me in more. It felt genuine and relatable while Peloton unfortunately drew out the wrong kind of emotion for many – anger. I do have to admit, I did not have the reaction that many had but I see where they are coming from. Interesting enough, even though the Dove campaign was geared towards women, I think it would appeal to men as well. I give this one to Dove.

Both are very shareable, hence why they went viral. I found many videos of both campaigns on YouTube. Particularly with social media it’s easy enough to comment, share, like, etc. Once again it’s a tie.

Obviously the timing of the Dove commercial could have taken place any time while Peloton was geared towards holiday sales so I have to give them the slight edge on this one.

Final Thoughts

Both campaigns used an interactive strategy playing off emotion which gives the viewers the to opportunity to put themselves in the actresses’ place (empathy) sparking a lot of reaction. While both companies put together interesting campaigns that went viral, it really made me stop and think was one better off than the other? One ended up being very engaging and the other enraging for many. Sales have jumped from 2.5 billion to 4 billion since Dove launched the campaign in 2004, while Peloton lost $942 million in one day after running the commercial in 2019 (1.5 billion to date). To be fair Dove has been around alot longer but that’s a lot of money! I think the proof is in the numbers but time will tell as Peloton sales are already up 20% this year. Will the negative publicity have an adverse effect? I think it definitely comes down to strategy and some luck.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section, who do you think came out ahead? And don’t forget to follow me on social media and sign up for my blog.