07 Sep

Accidental viral: free advertising

This morning, I was stuck in traffic, bored stiff, on the M25.

As I often do, when confronted with a wall of brake lights, I started to fill my head with all manner of crap to pass the time; inane (or downright bizarre) thoughts, catchy songs, ideas that’d be funny in a script, islands I’d buy if I had any money.

One of the thoughts which popped into my head, was around the ubiquitous (currently) phrase ‘cheeky Nando’s, as in; ‘let’s go for a cheeky Nando’s

What I can’t get my head around is why a big fuss is suddenly being made of this phrase – much to the bemusement of most Americans – when it’s been around for at least three years.
The hype has even culminated in silly videos like this, yet ‘cheeky Nando’s’ was in common usage back in 2012.

Whatever the case though, the best thing about this is that it’s absolutely free advertising for Nando’s. People are talking about it, posts and newspaper articles are being written about it, memes are being generated and shared, #CheekyNandos is being chucked around all over the place … all with the name ‘Nando’s’ in the mix.

This coverage would be worth millions if we were talking about traditional ad spend, but it’s cost Nando’s precisely nothing (although you could argue that it shows only a ‘certain type’ goes to Nando’s).

There was a similar situation, three years ago, when people suddenly discovered that if you mixed Coke and Mentos, you could make mini-fireworks (sort of), and crazy, explosive displays:

Coke didn’t like the publicity: they went the disgruntled, corporate, indignant, ‘misuse of our products’ route.
Mentos, however, loved what was happening – they actively courted those who were creating these videos.
And why not? Ultimately, people were still buying packs (by the dozen) of Mentos, so what did the company care whether they were stuffing them in their gobs or stuffing them into bottles of Coke?

The whole concept went viral, Mentos got a shedload of free advertising, and sales went through the roof.

Have a look at your own product(s). Is there anything about it that has the potential to ‘accidentally’ go viral? If so, set off a trend, quickly – you may just end up with the best, free advertising campaign ever.

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