Not So Dumb Viral Campaigns

TV, radio, mobiles, magazines, newspapers, the internet.. There are so many platforms to advertise your product or service these days, with some being around for a while and some being relatively new. But, just because we can advertise on every possible medium, doesn’t mean we should. As mentioned in a previous blog entry, mobile marketing is growing, whereas advertising on the radio may not be the smartest choice for your company. Though, it is not only the platform that is used for your marketing campaign that is important, but there are a whole lot of other contributing factors that will deem your success and whether your campaign will go viral. Today I will show you two viral marketing campaigns that were (and still are) highly successful and tell you why.

Metro Trains Melbourne – Dumb Ways to Die

Let’s start with a something that is close to home. Dumb ways to die is a social marketing campaign by Metro trains trying to remind people to be safe around trains. Boy, did this thing go viral. With over 127 million views on YouTube, people all around the world were intrigued by the humorous and catchy tune. Why was it so successful? Firstly, they created an emotional appeal to the audience. They created cute characters, an extremely catchy tune and highlighted a serious issue in a light, relaxed manner. When people see something this entertaining and creative, they are going to want to show their friends. This case also states that they targeted a global scale audience before the local Australian audience by using North American animals in the video, further stating the video had to go viral first before taking real effect. Secondly, they knew what platforms to use. The internet allowed the video to be viewed and spread very easily, compared to if they just aired it on Australian television. The global success of the campaign continued with the creation of a karaoke version, spoofs, posters, games, books and merchandise stemming from the video.

AAMI – Rhonda & Ketut

Rhonda and Ketut are now Australian icons thanks to this advertisement by AAMI, advertising car insurance. Now there is a whole series of ads for AAMI focusing on their love story, which makes them serious relationship goals. The success of this campaign stems from funny, memorable phrases such as ‘hot like a sunrise’ and relatable characters, like Rhonda, an everyday person who you can’t help but love. According to this article, 46% of consumers found the original commercial enjoyable to watch, with most advertisements only getting 21%. The success stems from the fact that this ad was different to many car insurance ads, it didn’t even involve a car accident at first. The ad had many talking points that could be repeated through social media and word of mouth and to be honest with you, I knew about the ad and what it was about before even seeing the ad myself, which supports the statistic of advertising awareness hitting a record high of 72%.

What are your favourite viral marketing campaigns and why?




4 thoughts on “Not So Dumb Viral Campaigns

  1. Hey Claudia, those are great examples of viral campaigns that I agree too were very successful! One of my favourite viral marketing campaigns was the Dove Real Beauty Sketches, as it looked at a concept so relatable to many, particularly young women, this being self-image. Each women involved in this campaign was asked to describe themselves and then a stranger to an artist who sketched the individual portraits. In an article in Ad Age (, it describes the campaign as being particularly successful as it ‘tugged at heartstrings’ (Toure, 2014). It definitely affected me when I saw people’s reactions to the portraits of how they critically perceived themselves in comparison to stranger’s perceptions of them, as it’s something many have struggled with. Through the series of videos, I thought it was a really creative way to share the message that while many of us lack inner self esteem, it is so important to love who we are, reflecting the message Dove as a brand tries to endorse. Watch it here:


    • Hi annie!! Thanks so much for the comment. Just watched the video on the campaign and I’m surprised I haven’t seen it before. What a beautiful, thought provoking campaign that gives off such a strong, positive brand image for Dove, no wonder it went viral. Thank you for sharing! Claudia 🙂


  2. Hello, Claudia, I read your blog, and thought it is great.

    To answer your question, my favorite viral marketing campaign is the “The last selfie” by WWF on snapchat.
    World Wild Life posts animal photos with hashtag “last selfie” next to it, trying to bring to and increase people’s awareness about the endangered situation and protection of wild life. This campaign went viral and is a hit on online community. Its success could be attributed to a successful implementation of viral campaign strategy.

    First, it leverages people’s communal emotions and feelings towards certain topics. Care and love are common affections shared by human race. The topic of wild life protection already gives the viral campaign a head start in the first place, which means comparing to unrelatable topics, people are more willing to spread and talk about this topic.

    Second, this campaign demands almost effortless transmitting task from people. The “last selfie” snapchat is effortless in two ways: transmitting platform, and marketing message. Snapchat is a social platform reaching out to audience from global wide, it is easy to share it with other people on the online community. Plus, the message format is simple to remember, only two words—“last selfie”, and points directly to the core idea of campaign.

    Third, it took advantage of other online networks. “Last selfie” snapchat campaign was also picked up by many online networks such as YouTube, Adweek, and Pinterest. These influential third party websites redirects the campaign to their huge audience base, which facilitates the spreading of the campaign.

    Now comparing the “last selfie” campaign to the AAMI video and “Dumb ways to die” case you presented, I found something they have in common. For example, simple but catchy taglines “hot like sunrise” and “dumb ways to die” are developed for the benefit of going viral. More than that, these words and topics are relatable to people, which could generate a lot of talkabout. Last, they are posted on YouTube, a major social network possessing a monumental audience base and close connection with many other major networks, which also facilitates the spreading of the campaign.

    Kind Regards


    • Hey, thanks for the comment and what a wonderful example! I looked into it and can see the emotions it would bring out in people, sparking a viral trend. You are very knowledgable about it and your comparisons to my examples were interesting as it shows there are definitely some key, mutual factors that influence whether something goes viral! Claudia 🙂


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