Viral Marketing Initiatives

How many times have you seen the Doritos commercial with the woman getting the ultrasound? With over 16 million views on YouTube, the video went viral during the 2016 Super Bowl.

The “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign from Doritos has been one of the most successful campaigns for the last 10 years for a few reasons,  but when the idea to utilize user-generated content to fill the Super Bowl slots was brought up, many were not on board with it (Schultz, 2016).

So, what lead to the success of the campaign leading it to go on for a decade?

One of the biggest appeals for the campaign was the user-generated content.  Many amateur filmmakers jumped at the opportunity to showcase their skills to a large viewership.  They became emotionally invested in their projects, trying to put their best foot forward and find a way to connect to the followers who would be voting on the videos.


Well, what makes content go viral?

I’ve found five reasons that content goes viral, although these can vary depending on the topic:

  1. Emotions: Consumers like things that bring forth their emotions; whether its anger, happiness, comedy, or something else.  They want content that they can find some sort of meaning in, even if that meaning is just a good laugh.  The more people can connect with something, the more likely they are to share it with their friends.
  2. Contests: Who doesn’t like to win something? Customers love to see that they’re being recognized by a business, so why not give them something for spreading the word?  Not only will the customer win, but the business does as well with the expansion of brand awareness, engagement, and more.
  3. Video: Viral videos have been transcending over the last few years, between the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” which was started to raise funds and awareness, to the “Mannequin Challenge” which was done just for fun.  Videos give that little bit of perspective into someone else’s world, and if its interesting enough, users share that world a little further.
  4. User-Generated Content: This goes back to being recognized by businesses, consumers love to have their loyalty and work recognized.  I recently ran a series of “Show Us Your View,” encouraging our followers to send us photos and videos of their view when riding.  This lead to receiving dozens of submissions within the first two days.  When we shared the content we saw an increase of engagement on all platforms, even seeing some shares (which we had not seen before).
  5. Mobile Friendly: There is nothing worse then sitting around at the doctor and trying to look at something on your phone, only to find that it loads too slowly for mobile applications.  The easier it is for users to see your content, the more willing they will be to participate and share your content.

Other things you may want to take into consideration, this infographic from SailThru gives a lot of good information to consider when putting together your next campaign:


Ultimately, you want to relate to your followers, and other users, to have the best opportunity to get content to go viral.  Find something that makes them laugh, provide advise on a topic that you see (or hear) come up regularly, get involved in your online communities to see what your target market is interested in.  Once you figure out the type of content you want to share and decide how you want to present it (company generated or user generated), the hard part is over.

For more information and a step by step guide on how content goes viral, check out this post from Advertising Universe, it has some great infographics to guide you through your strategy.



Petrescu, M. (2014). Viral Marketing and Social Networks.  New York, New York [222 East 46th Street, New York, NY 10017]: Business Expert Press.

Rudd, A. & Collinger, T. (2015). Doritos ‘Crash the Super Bowl’-An effective advertising campaign.

Salo, J. (2016). Why simple videos like the Mannequin Challenge go viral. New York Post. Retrieved from

Schultz, E. (2016). How ‘Crash the Super Bowl’ changed advertising. Advertising Age.  Retrieved from



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