Viral content marketing is somewhat mysterious. Many brands try hard — and fail — to achieve the status of internet sensation, proving that it’s not something that can be forced. Still, many posts and videos go viral for all the wrong reasons. Beyoncé may “slay all day,” but these five examples received tons of views and got people talking for reasons other than their fabulous content.
Speaking of Beyoncé, in February 2016, Queen Bey released her “Formation” song, which mentions Red Lobster. The casual chain restaurant immediately experienced viral popularity. It took the brand 10 hours to create a relevant tweet, however — and the Twittersphere was left relatively unimpressed by their response. “‘Cheddar Bey Biscuits’ has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?” Even though the brand’s content fell flat, they still enjoyed impressive results, with sales jumping roughly 33 percent the weekend the song dropped.
To promote their new Kickstart beverage, Mountain Dew unveiled a new commercial for Super Bowl 2015. This polarizing content stars a Frankenstein-like creature, the Puppy Monkey Baby. People who didn’t like it — some of whom claimed it gave them nightmares — accounted for more than half of the buzz for the hashtag, #PuppyMonkeyBaby. But negative feelings aside, this creepy puppy monkey baby hybrid creature generated more than 65,000 hashtag mentions and 22 million views on the company’s YouTube channel.
KFC’s Clean Eating Burger ad has garnered more than four million views, 3,000 shares and tens of thousands of comments on Facebook, which proves that even confusing content can get people talking. In the video, which looks like an Instagram influencer’s content, fictitious character Figgy Poppleton-Rice presents her creation, a sandwich with a cauliflower bun, spiralized chicken breast, kale, unsweetened yogurt, and ice cube tops with chia seeds. Then, what starts as possibly clever satire transgresses into a violent end with Figgy cut off by a huge ad for KFC’s actual product — the Dirty Louisiana burger. The vapid nature of Figgy herself and the aggression of the ending left many people loving or hating the piece.
Is it clever? Yes, although in a slightly juvenile sort of way. But the cheeky, naughty humor of Kmart’s Ship My Pants video is exactly what got people talking about the 50-year-old+ retailer in a new way. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about the content here, and there are plenty of people who downright hated it, but it still managed to get more than eight million YouTube views before the ad even aired on television.
In 2006, Chevy launched a “Roll Your Own Commercial” campaign encouraging visitors to the website to create their own commercials for the 2007 Chevy Tahoe. The move gave the brand tons of exposure, but the majority of the videos circulated on the internet attacked the vehicle for its gas mileage and other negative attributes. The content for this viral social media marketing campaign was less than flattering to the brand, although it did get people talking — just not for the reasons that the content marketers who dreamed the idea up were hoping for.