Paul Houston

[Case study] The secrets behind a viral campaign

by Paul Houston on December 04, 2013

health-express_968x563.jpg

When a campaign ‘goes viral’ a simple advert or poster reaches thousands of people through word of mouth online. Which means you get a huge audience, and your prospective customers are doing the work for you.

I caught up with Anthony Purkiss, Commercial Manager, and Tom Witcherley, Digital Creative, to discuss their recent viral campaign success: an advertising campaign for HealthExpress, the UK’s first legal online medical clinic.

One poster is currently the 56th most viral image on the internet, receiving 6.5 views per second and accumulating 394,268 views in just 17 hours.

HEX_Washroom_Lady_AW-HR-724x10241.jpg

 HealthExpress advert

Paul: What makes a campaign go viral?
Anthony: First of all, you have to get the tone right so you appeal to a broad range of people. The key is to go viral for the right reason. You want the company to be represented positively, so noteworthy but not offensive. The humour has to be universal, because so many different types of people will see it.

Tom: A campaign like this also has to pass the ‘blink’ test. When people look at sites like Twitter or Reddit or Facebook or Imgur they only look at a single item for a couple seconds. If you want something to go viral the viewer needs to get it in the blink of an eye. This advert is really good in that respect. Everyone knows the ‘Jack and Jill’ nursery rhyme, so you start out with recognition already.

Paul: Do you plan for a campaign to go viral?
Anthony: Not as such. ‘Going viral’ is never the goal. The goal is to create adverts that do a good job of selling the product. It’s not a victory for the client if it goes viral but the company name doesn’t stick with the viewers. The client isn’t in the business of entertaining, they’re in the business of selling.

Tom: A good example of this is cats. Cats are hugely popular on the internet, and images of cats doing crazy things get shared a lot. So we could have created an advert featuring a silly-looking cat, and it could have gone viral. But cats have nothing to do with HealthExpress, so the client wouldn’t have achieved any brand awareness. In this case, the rhyme clearly links to what we’re selling: contraceptive pills. So everyone that reads this sees that HealthExpress sells this product.

Paul: Why was this campaign so successful?
Anthony: Because we nailed the target audience. When you look at the demographic for a contraceptive pill, it’s a social-savvy age group. They like a bit of cheeky humour and are active about sharing it online.

Tom: Exactly. Because it’s gone viral, more potential customers have seen it and learned about HealthExpress. So it’s a huge victory for the client.

Online Lead Generation eBook

Talk to us today about how we can help you generate increased awareness, demand and sales.

Get in touch 

Subscribe to Email updates and get our newest blogs straight to your inbox!

Paul Houston

This post was written by Paul Houston

Paul is Cognition's Sales Director with over 25 years’ experience. Paul is a motivated and driven sales and marketing professional who strives to expand, develop and enrich businesses.

Connect with Paul Houston