Don’t be fooled by virality…


Companies strive to create viral campaigns. Achieving high exposure towards your product launch or brand across all social media platforms is all a company wishes for. With great popularity comes several opinions and marketers can not control the reaction of viewers or their comments towards it. Therefore marketers must influence and shape consumer discussion through their campaign, and ensure that it resonates with the brand’s image and the organisation’s mission.

With the numerous tactics organisations use to make a campaign go viral, there seem to be 7 consistent steps that are followed in order to achieve great success (click the link for a detailed description). The public has seen that even by following these steps, a campaign could have a completely different meaning to the viewers than that of the company. There have been many marketing campaign fails, which the majority of the public will be very aware of. The one campaign that sticks out immediately would be the Pepsi advertisement featuring the one and only Kendall Jenner.  This campaign caused such a controversy that Pepsi Global  removed the advertisement from the public, but the damage was already done. The most frightening part of potentially creating a viral campaign is that when it is taken the wrong way, the talk about it will spread like wildfire across many social media platforms. As the us0404-kendall-jenner-pepsi-5e of online media increases, the electronic word of mouth (eWOM) moves faster and gains a greater reach than traditional WOM (WOM+Exponential growth = Viral marketing – Kaplan & Haenlein 2011). Pepsi had to apologise for the content of the advert (that’s how you know the level of exposure this received).

What was supposed to be a campaign of people of all different cultures coming together by sharing a Pepsi, drastically turned into something different, sparking people’s interests in creating (memes) some content of their own, to add to the conversation (they’re actually hilarious).


The Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC), should be utilised in conjunction with digital media, as this ensures that the message is coherent, consistent with the brand image and complementary. The message should be clear and concise and ultimately link with the company’s culture (shared values and beliefs), so that marketers do not spark a negative outrage similar to what Pepsi encountered. It is sometimes difficult to depict the reaction of the public hence marketers must acknowledge that it is out of their control.

With all this being said, there are many advantages to online campaigns and not all of them went viral for the wrong reason. Through the correct use of integrated marketing a crosswalk will be established linking online marketing approaches to that of a more traditional method of marketing. There have been many successful online marketing campaigns , one of which went viral on YouTube and gathered over 66 million views (and counting), this was the #LikeAGirl campaign. This organisation (Always)  helps boost confidence in females, especially during times of puberty. This video gained a lot of attention and ultimately communicated an empowering message that linked strongly with their organisation.

Do not always believe that virality is the greatest form of success.


8 thoughts on “Don’t be fooled by virality…

  1. I think that’s a great point, and I believe that they did not sustain long term damage because they are too big to damage, people will eventually forget the incident and business will do their best to move forward.


    1. I guess that is kind of the funny thing about brands of these sizes that they’re almost so big and have such a huge market share that even when they do something really stupid it doesn’t really matter. I looked at something similar in my blog post regarding Coopers and their appearance in the anti-gay marriage campaign during the vote and how it did damage the brand for a bit but ultimately it all kind of blew under the rug but then the taxi industry tried to do a similar thing when uber gained more market share and it really badly back fired on them and it almost helped them go down hill faster. Check it out if you’re interested –

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Sometimes it’s better to just Keep It Simple Stupid isn’t it… but then again, some would argue that publicity is publicity. Though not in the eyes of our applied brand management lecturer. We have learnt that maintaining reputation is important. Thanks for the interesting read!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the great read! i really enjoyed reading your blog and the comments posted. I did a similar blog post and i discovered that after the Kendell Ad aired there was a drop in sales for Pepsi! Purchase consideration for millennials dropped from 27% to 24% after the ad aired according to one study. It recovered in November up to 29% but many believe this was just due to the release of a new flavour and the football season as it declined again to 23%. I find it amazing how one short ad can cause so many problems for a company, especially now that millennials are looking to create change through social media. The same is happening for Nike at the moment, upon releasing their ad there was a drop in sales and negative twitter posts but when they released the official ad video suddenly the opposite became true. The sales went up and lots of people were in support. As a marketer i think we need to be careful how we portray the social issues that are relevant at the time. Do you think its right for companies to use these issues to their advantage? Or should they leave them alone and not try to make profits off of them?


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