Viral marketing has become so commonplace that it is now a household term even in the least media-savvy households. Even so, many marketing agencies have managed to fool the world into thinking that certain outrageous stories are genuine articles and not simply a clever ruse to bring nationwide attention to a product or event. These viral marketing campaigns have managed to trick their way into the public eye and managed to fool us all into believing their ads were real.
The Blair Witch Panic
One of the first and most famous viral marketing campaigns was the one involving the promotion of The Blair Witch Project. Those of you who remember when this film hit the theaters likely remember at least one person you knew thought this was a real documentary and that a group of student film makers was really killed while getting the footage. Some people were so terrified of this mediocre fear-fest that they actually lost sleep after seeing it. It was so successful that the maker of the movie, Eduardo Sanchez claimed, “One of the guys from Artisan told me the other day, 'Everything that could possibly go right on the film has gone right on this film, and you're never going to experience that again in your career and I'm never going to experience it again in my career.'” Sources CNN, Viral Blog
Should We Ban RayBan?
More recently, you probably remember the video featuring the hipster who was apparently stupid enough to get Buddy Holly sunglasses tattooed on his face. This one spread throughout the web before anyone started realizing that maybe, just maybe, he was actually working with RayBan. Humorously, even after everyone discovered he was working with the company, no one has yet proven if the tattoo is real or not. This wasn’t the first time RayBan managed to fool the masses though, remember the two guys who managed to keep catching RayBans on their faces?
Levis had a similar success story as RayBan when blogs across the net picked up on this clever video showing a guy jumping into his pants. The commercial isn’t branded, but people started being tipped off when they heard the comment on the tape that mentions “at least there’s no zipper” and then noticed the video was put on YouTube by "unbuttonedfilms." Levis is the only jeans company that markets their button-up flies, which really helped limit down the choices when it came time to figure out who made the promotion. A while later the company tried to pull a similar stunt with their helium-inflated pants video, but no one really picked it up because it was a) obviously impossible (there's no where near enough helium in his pants to lift him off the ground) and b) an obvious advertisement. Instead the company decided to just use the ad as a television commercial. Sources: Trend Hunter, Gawker, Adrants
Don't Try This At Home
What happens when you combine illegal activities, extreme sports and poor video quality? You get a surefire viral video hit that’s sure to spawn some idiotic imitations. That’s how Quicksilver landed a major success with this questionable video showing someone surfing in an English river thanks to a hefty load of dynamite. Source: Daily Mail
Bike Hero Or Bike Huckster?
This video was obviously branded for Guitar Hero, but it originally seemed to be a fan project. It also made its rounds on the blogosphere before someone discovered it was created by an advertising agency and not “Kevin in Indiana” like the YouTube profile page indicated. Source: Multi-Player Blog
Fake Science In Fake Virals
Do you remember when everyone thought for a split second that cell phones popping popcorn with radiation could be the new Mentos and Coke? That is until people actually tried it and realized it was a complete hoax. Then the news quickly arose that the video was actually created by a Bluetooth headset company called Cardo. Lets just hope people were smart enough to test this bunk science before running out and buying a headset. Sources: Boing Boing Gadgets Now it’s your turn readers. There’s been thousands of these promotions in the last ten years, most of which were unsuccessful. But I’m sure many of you have fallen for these tricks at least once? What was the most convincing viral ad you’ve seen?