You may have noticed, unless you’ve been forced into hiding in the past few months, that the social realm is becoming increasingly crowded with the cacophony of noisy brand campaigns. Moonwalking ponies, Gangnam styling, and a hell of a lot of Harlem shaking seem to be shimmying to the forefront of just about every social platform on the go.

It may be hard to believe that the ideas ranging from the crazy frog to the Cadbury’s drumming gorilla that became national treasures took time, planning, and (even more worryingly in some examples) a boardroom of people who nodded and agreed that the idea was destined to succeed.

The competition is aggressive and brands are striving to place themselves a few moves ahead when it comes to battling for top shareability. But woe betide whatever unsuspecting brand gets it wrong as we have all seen how unforgiving a social audience can be, *coughmcdonaldscough*

So is there such a thing as flawless formula or a golden key to creating the not-so elusive viral video of today? Or is it just a concoction of mistakes and dumb-luck? Virool claims to have the equation all figured out and has created a pay-per-view website which takes you though the processes of making your video go viral. With this in mind, take a look at the following brands to see if you stand in the love or hate camp.

I’ll start with a rather under-the-radar campaign which has come from Three’s new multichannel attempt. I jest of course; the nation has been so overexposed to the silly campaign that I refused to switch on the TV for at least a week. What’s more, we’re all already sick of horse-related news anyway. The campaign, featuring the dancing pony #DancyPonyDance, follows the golden-locked creature as it dances its way across various backdrops of farm scenery before ‘hilariously ’ceasing as soon as the farmer drives past in his tractor.

Pony

The horsing around doesn’t stop after the video ends; simply go to The Pony Mixer to create your very own dancing pony mash-up. On the other hand, you may have wished the Pony Mixer allowed you to choose from a variety of scenes and push the annoying thing off a cliff, or make it into delicious burger #DiePonyDie. Ponies are on their way out anyway, it’s all about Glasgow goats now.

Loving or loathing this doesn’t really matter – the viral nature paired with the result of dominating Facebook’s news feed, television screens, YouTube videos and heck, even a banner on Skype’s home page, Three has come up with a crafty and simply daft idea which was able to catch on overnight. The longevity of the campaign was also credit to clever uses of the hashtag which appeared at the end of advertisements, further driving traffic to social channels and its interactive Pony Mixer.

Andrex

You also might have had something to say about Andrex’s important question: ‘Scrunch or Fold?’ You may have rolled your eyes, laughed, sighed or even been disgusted, but every single one of us had an answer – Andrex weirdly achieved its desired effect. What’s more, the brand still insists on rolling out the advert today. Scrunch or fold = ewww, cute puppy = awww.

Not all were so enamoured, and a certain amount of backlash followed the campaign around like a bad smell (sorry). However, this achieved more exposure of the campaign itself. A particular favourite article of mine was titled: “Is this the worst advertising campaign ever?” We also provided insights of this high profile campaign in our Social Brand Tracker.

Toilet Roll

Andrex also seemed to have tapped into a somewhat ‘niche’ community, which is in fact very interested in the concept as a whole. The blog ‘Fold or Scrunch’ founded in 2010, way before the Andrex debate, is dedicated to the topic. The makers describe the site as “dedicated to the debate about how people wipe their bottoms”. If you really want to know more, go give it a visit. No judgement.

What about the results of the vote? Are we a nation who predominantly scrunch or fold? Well, 14,728 people voted and the results show that the majority are ‘folders’ at 65%, while 35% enjoy a good scrunch. Still not had enough? Have a look at some ‘exciting’ insights, such as how students are more likely to fold, whereas scrunchers are apparently more likely to have blue eyes.

Unfortunately for poor Waitrose however, they found out first-hand how some campaigns can go viral without intention. The high-end supermarket innocently asked Twitter users to ask why people like to shop there using the hashtag #waitrosereasons. The problem was that the majority of answers were maybe not quite what the brand envisioned.

A few of my favourites include: “I shop at Waitrose because Tesco doesn’t stock unicorn food”, “I shop at Waitrose because Clarissa’s pony just WILL NOT eat ASDA value straw”, and this belter: “I shop at Waitrose because when the economy finally breaks down and dies, those little green tokens will serve as currency”.

Waitrose1

Waitrose2

Waitrose3

However, Waitrose’s PR team did report back saying they enjoyed most of the tweets, showing that a bashtag can still benefit a brand, and provoke a few titters too. It shed a good light on the team behind the brand, showing that they have the ability to laugh at themselves. Dealing with the mishap humorously may even have changed people’s opinions of the brand. Although the outcome was not predicted, it goes to show how even unintentional faux pas can have their benefits, if played out wisely.

Despite the occasional debris of the absolutely naff campaign which lie on the bottom of the barrel, the rare gems that do exist are well worth sifting through to find. The age old ‘love it or hate it’ argument can be an effective marketing tool, and dividing opinion will ensure that vehement opinion will never be lacking. Divisive campaigns such as these are a brilliant way to capture the attention of a readily waiting audience who are eager to share something new, or alternatively rip it to shreds. And after all, even if things do go a bit belly-up, no publicity is bad publicity…right?

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