Viral marketing is one the most recent marketing techniques that use social networks to increase brand awareness and to achieve various other brand communication objectives. It is similar to the way viruses spread around computers without the malicious element to it, of course. It is often delivered by either word of mouth or by other network effects and takes a form of video clips, interactive Flash games, e-books, branded software, images, or text messages. It is another by-product of recent social media, digitalisation of businesses, and technology in general, and some brands take it very seriously. And why shouldn’t they?
The most recent example of brands going viral is Mercedes-Benz, a brand that generally takes its marketing and advertising very seriously, and with the recent video which was posted online and went instantly viral, it is hoping to take advantage of this latest marketing technique.
In the clip which is actually part of the Mercedes’ recent digital marketing campaign promoting its sponsorship of the Open Championship golf tournament, the Formula 1 legend David Coulthard drives a soft top sports car, SLS AMG Roadster, at 120 mph on the Top Gear track at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, as professional golfer Jake Shepherd tees off. The ball, at the speed of 178mph, is then caught by Coulthard in the car some 275 metres away from the tee – and believe it or not, it is enough to break the Guinness World Record for the farthest golf shot caught in a moving car.
The video went viral with over million and a half hits on YouTube alone, but it also created a great deal of buzz on social media as well as on all other traditional media channels, proving that with a little bit of creativity and the right online channels, viral is a new way to create awareness for your brand. Mercedes-Benz passenger cars marketing director, David George, explained the idea with the viral campaign: “The SLS AMG Roadster is an extraordinary car so we wanted to do something extraordinary with it to celebrate our association with the upcoming Open Championship, and what better way than to break a world record and create such an exciting film. “
So, what kind awareness does a viral campaign like this create? It certainly makes people talk about Mercedes – the brand, but it is not a coincidence that the clip combines Mercedes and golf. It creates an association between the two in consumers’ minds – golf, a sport often associated with businessmen and the elites, certainly in line with Mercedes’ image and the way the brand wants to be perceived by its customers- business like, smart, proficient, sporty, efficient, etc.
Otherwise, viral marketing is not only about creating awareness, it also promotes sales – the point of marketing after all is to generate sales, and viral is just another way to do it. Be it the actual Mercedes SLS AMG or some other Mercedes model or even a used Mercedes, potential buyers will no doubt be swayed, without even realising it.