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5 Insanely Clever Marketing Campaigns That Went Viral

The other day, my coworker cracked up while reading an email from Frontier Airlines. I turned around, looked at his screen, and I, too, couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer creative genius. The email on his screen capitalized on the recent sensationalism of a 15-year old’s crack at being president. If you read anything on the internet or watch the news, you probably know exactly what I’m referring to.

This got me wondering about other clever, timely, and opportunistic marketing campaigns. I know, it’s not the end of the year so it’s not the official time for everyone to do their roundup of “top ten marketing campaigns that did X, Y, and Z”, but I don’t care. Humor in marketing deserves mentioning all times of the year. There are so many intrusive, boring campaigns out there, why not celebrate the clever ones? We can all benefit from taking risks, thinking more creatively, and finding the humor in the metric-centered world of marketing. So, without further ado, here is my very official roundup (in no particular order) of perfectly timed, clever marketing campaigns.

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1. “Deez Nuts” – Frontier Airlines

This promotion could not be more timely. With Deez Nuts all over the interwebs, some clever marketing person at Frontier saw an opportunity and snatched it up. “Deez fares are nuts,” the company said on their website and in emails. “Get 50 percent off with Promo Code: DEEZNUTS.” The promotion is a bit of an endorsement for a fictional presidential candidate submitted to the Federal Elections Commission Filings by a 15-year old Iowan named “Deez Nuts”.

I can’t speak to the impact on website traffic and sales generated by this campaign, but I do know that the promotion gained a ton of press for the notorious deal slashing airline. Despite the exhausting and tiresome presidential election season, it’s refreshing to see some humor come out of it. Plus, cheap airfare is always something to go nuts over.

2. “The Dress”
You may recall a time back in February when the internet lost its mind over the color of a dress. It all started when Scottish singer Caitlin McNeill posted a photo of her dress on Tumblr, asking for consensus on the color of the dress. Was it blue and black or white and gold?

People chimed in across multiple social media channels and national news stations to voice their opinion on why the dress was a certain color combination. Brands even jumped on the dress color debate bandwagon:

Dunkin’ Donuts posted white / gold and blue / black glazed donuts

LEGO found a way to have your blue and your gold

Tide claimed the issue could be solved with proper laundry care

Oreo offered a solution to make everyone happy

And Adobe finally settled the debate with a scientific explanation that the colors are indeed BLUE and BLACK.

Check out all the other creative brands that jumped on the dress color debate wagon.

3. “Straight Outta Compton” Meme

If you’ve been on social media recently, you’ll have noticed the stream of black and white profile pictures declaring “Straight Outta…(somewhere).” The headphone company, Beats by Dre, created the Straight Outta Compton meme to promote the new movie about the rise of rap group N.W.A. The meme generator inspires people to fill in the blank with their hometown in the signature design of N.W.A. Within 9 days of the site’s launch, over 7 million people visited the site, 6 million people created memes, and over the course of two days, #StraightOutta was retweeted more than 15,000 times per second. People and brands couldn’t help but relish the opportunity to get a little creative and silly. Here are a few gems:

* The best *

If you want a few more laughs from the creative “Straight Outta” memes, check here and here.

4. Oreo’s Lights Out Super Bowl Moment

If you’re a football fan, you may remember a moment of darkness during the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII of 2013. The power in the Superdome went out for 34 minutes causing advertisers to quickly think on their feet. No brand pulled off more of a timely and creative response than Oreo. Understanding the importance of cross-channel advertising, Oreo’s social media team and agency, 360i, leaped at the opportunity to create a clever ad on Twitter. The team tweeted “Power out? No problem,” with a dimly lit image of a lone Oreo and the caption, “You can still dunk in the dark.” The message caught on almost immediately, gaining nearly 20,000 retweets and more than 20,000 likes on Facebook – pretty impressive for a one-off joke made by a cookie. This quick and clever thinking is not a new concept for Oreo; they’re huge proponents of culturally relevant content, as seen with their Daily Twist program.

5. #LoveWins

When the US Supreme Court Decision broke regarding marriage rights for everyone in all 50 states, people rushed to the scene to express their support for #LoveWins. Facebook turned the world into a beautiful rainbow by allowing people to put a multicolored filter on their profile picture. Google created a rainbow homepage. And brands from every industry sparkled a little brighter and a little more colorful. Here are a few of my favorite brand responses for #LoveWins:

Visa – Love. Accepted everywhere.

Mentos – Two of the same is beautiful.

Gap – Equality is always in style.

Budweiser – This Bud’s for you.

If you want to see more colorful reactions for #LoveWins by big brands, check this out.

So, there you have it. Five examples of clever, opportunistic marketing campaigns that made us laugh, made us cry and made us share a whole lot. What is it about certain campaigns that urge us to become a part of the conversation by either sharing the message or buying the product? Clever, unique, and emotionally touching messages connect rather than frustrate audiences and separate successful campaigns from utter flops.

According to Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, “There is a science behind why people share. It’s not chance, and it’s not random. If you understand the underlying science of human behavior, you can predict what people are going to pass on, and you can craft your own contagious content–whether it’s messages, products or ideas–that people are more likely to spread.” Next time inspiration strikes, don’t be afraid to put your brand out there in a wacky way.

Want to learn more about creating viral marketing campaigns? Check out our eBook, Sharing is Caring: How to Get Your Customers to Market for You. If you’d like to see a demo of Upland Mobile Messaging, let us know below.

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