Friday, December 16, 2011


“Why this murderous rage, girl?” has become the rage of the nation. It’s the ultimate song for the youth and almost everybody below 20 has made it their anthem. Come to think of it, the lyrics are ridiculously funny, the tune is very simple and yet this ‘soup song’ (meaning, a heartbreak song) just gets on you. It’s so easy to remember and so hummable that you cant stop singing after hearing it! But most importantly, it’s a song that every music company would want in their kitty today, it’s a viral campaign that every marketer dreams of making, it has such crazy levels of popularity that would be a dream for any celebrity and, it has reached an iconic status that every brand would die for. It is an excellent example of how to establish a name, an idea, in today’s crowded market place, filled with consumers who understand all marketing gimmicks; who hate being marketed to and who are a most aware and a sceptic lot.


Why has ‘Kolaveri’ become so popular? It’s the simplicity of the message and the magic of the internet that have made it so popular. Gone are the days when one had to wait for the mainstream media to pick up your story and make it popular by writing about it in their newspapers and magazines or showing it on TV. Today, thanks to the internet, you can go directly to the consumer and be heard. If your message is interesting, it will spread like, well, a viral ! This is exactly what happened to the ‘Kolaveri’ video when it was posted online a few weeks ago. Shot inside the recording studio, the rough version of the song made it to the internet through the backdoor, making it an instant hit and forcing Sony Music to release the song much earlier than planned. Its foot tapping beats made it irresistible to anyone who heard it, and today, it has got more than 22 million hits on YouTube. In fact, so much is the craze for this song that anything associated with it is becoming a hit too. Sonu Nigam’s son has sung a ‘milk version’ of the soup song and that, too, is set to become a rage on the internet. A good and interesting idea spreads like wildfire. You must know what the audience wants and give it to them, as John St., a Toronto based ad firm did. To market its services, it circulated a viral based on a satirical idea of how ‘catvertising’, that is videos with cats in them, would be the most watched videos on the internet by 2015! Tongue in cheek, the advertising agency explains how it has now opened the world’s first ‘cat video’ division to stay on top of competition, for everyone likes to see videos of cats, and cats are good for business. Considering the fact that everything in the world today is just a ‘mouse-click’ away, the ‘cat videos’ are bound to be a hit. Not surprising, then, that the ‘catvertising’ viral has got more than a million hits already. What is it that makes these videos become such a craze? From the ‘Kolaveri’ viral in India to the ‘catvertising’ one in Canada, what is it that makes them so popular? They have the ability to connect with the viewers instantly. They have a simple message told quickly and in an interesting manner. Most importantly they are fun!


The web can make you famous instantly, and it can make your brand the most talked about. After all, the most powerful tool of marketing is word-of-mouth. Nowadays, of course, it’s the word-of-mouse with the web gaining importance. It is a tool that is being used by marketers across the globe. You could be selling any product; if you have a great viral also in place, it will help your brand in becoming more popular and talked about.

The most popular viral advertising campaign of 2011 has been that of Volkswagen Passat featuring an adorable kid in a Darth Vader mask, trying to use his ‘Force’ to move and control things right from his dog to his toy and even his sandwich. Much to his disappointment, nothing seems to work till his Dad comes home in the Passat. He tries his ‘powers’ on the car and voilà, it starts! The kid is elated and totally overjoyed with the fact that the ‘force’ finally worked, not realising that his father had secretly turned the car on with his remote. What an endearing way of highlighting the new feature of the car that it could be started with a remote. It is so lovable and so watchable, which is why it has been viewed more than 62 million times on YouTube.

To get people interested in its new range of shoes, Nike made Kobe Bryant jump over a whole lot of crazy things like an Aston Martin, a pool of snakes, et al. The videos and the feats shown were nearly impossible to believe and generated a lot of comments online. Whatever the comments, Nike had managed to draw the people’s attention, which is the basic purpose of all marketing campaigns.

When it comes to drawing attention, there are two viral campaigns that literally changed the world of online marketing. The first one was the viral released for the movie ‘The Blair Witch’. The world was new to the internet and its new users thought that they had ‘chanced’ upon a video footage of some vanished teenagers showing supernatural events. The word spread like wildfire and soon mainstream media too was carrying this story and talking about it. It’s only later when people realised that this was actually a campaign for a movie. The viral had built so much excitement around the movie, making it one of the most profitable movies of all times. The second most remarkable viral campaign has been that of Barack Obama. One of the first to realise the importance of the internet and the social networking sites, he used it to campaign extensively and actually go on to become the President of USA.

A good viral can grant you popularity but if the product is not good, it cannot help much. To give a boost to its sagging sales, Fiat, too, launched a viral campaign featuring Jennifer Lopez. The star was big, the script was great and the views were huge. With more than 27 million views, this viral is one of the most popular virals of 2011; yet it did nothing for the sales of the car, for it was more about Ms. Lopez and less about Fiat. As a result, everyone conveniently forgot about the car as they ogled at Lopez. The sales did not turn out to be even half as exciting as the viral.

A great marketing campaign has to be backed with an equally great product to be able to fight competitors, or else all the extra attention that you get from the great marketing campaign could actually prove fatal for you and your brand. In today’s day and age, it is extremely easy to film a video and it costs nothing to upload it on YouTube. The tough part is making it work for you.

So while the internet is filled with opportunities, it is a medium that has to be handled cautiously too. While a great viral campaign can do wonders for your bottom lines, a wrong one could conversely generate immense negative publicity for your brand. It is, nevertheless, a place where it’s not the size of your budget but your creativity that can help you beat even the biggest of competitors. A man was looking for a job and wanted to get the attention of some of the best marketing companies. Instead of working on a great CV, he worked on an e-book and called it ‘Marketing Apple’. The free ebook got some of the top bloggers talking about him and soon, he was a popular name; making more money an hour than he could have dreamt of. When Universal Studios wanted to launch the new Harry Potter area in its theme park, it did not work on making an advertisement; instead, it worked on identifying the biggest Harry Potter fan sites on the internet. The owners of these sites (just seven of them) were told that they had been especially selected to break the news to the Harry Potter fans, for the fans should be the first to know and they should not see it in an advertisement. The strategy worked like magic and within days, the new addition to Universal Studios was a mega hit. The best part is that the company hardly spent any money in promoting it.

Great brands have always been built on simple ideas. Great brands under-promise and over-deliver; much like the Kolaveri song, which is so down to earth and yet, it’s pure entertainment.

So as you sit and plan out your viral marketing campaign, remember that it needn’t be very professional, it needn’t be long; but what it must be is simple, endearing, give a clear message, and soon you too could be singing ‘Kolaveri’ on your way to the bank, and not asking your boss, “Why this Kolaveri, Sir?”.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. this one article = 10 lectures on digital marketing...and specially that 'catvertising' is amazing campaign!!

  3. I have enjoyed reading the article, but I wonder what would be the practical approach when some very small organisation tries to have the implementation in their place

  4. Check my blog on this

  5. what a blog!!So a soothing one.Keep it up!
    Thank you


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