by Jennifer O’Brien
An early example of viral marketing comes from Mystery Science Theater 3000. In the early 1990s this TV show had little distribution. They prompted their viewers at the end of the show to start recording it on video tape and pass it on to friends. This was a unique viral/word of mouth marketing technique in a time when not many people were using the internet.
Another unique example of viral marketing was created by BMW in 2001. They made a series of eight short films called The Hire and posted them on their website. These films were very expensive to make and starred actors like Don Cheadle, Clive Owen, and Madonna. In the end, the cost was worth it because it was viewed by 11 million people in a very short amount of time and prompted sales to go up 12% just in 2001!
In 2006, Jack Links Beef Jerky came up with a series of clever videos called Messin with Sasquatch which eventually became television commercials. These short films show a group of people walking around in the woods who see Sasquatch and play practical jokes on him. The videos became popular on YouTube where people were led to the company’s website.
A very recent example of viral marketing is from J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books. She sent her fans on a hunt to find a hidden message. She posted geographical coordinated on her nine favorite fan sites. When her fans plugged the coordinates in Google maps, they found a letter at each location. These letters made up the word POTTERMORE and fans began to try and decode the message. People were talking about it like crazy on social media sites and wondering with anticipation what it could mean. When fans typed in pottermore.com all that popped up was a sign that said (coming soon).
It was finally announced that Pottermore.com will be an unbelievable website for Harry Potter fans to do many cool things. Fans will be able to create an account, choose which house of Hogwarts they want to be a part of, read the backstories of different characters, and do many things to interact with the story and continue on the journey. The site will be open to one million people on July 30th of this year, and be open to everybody sometime in October. This is an extremely unique and creative example of viral marketing! I suppose that should be expected from the author who brought us seven incredibly unique and creative books.