The top viral marketing campaigns of all time

What is a Viral Campaign?

Viral marketing is a technique used to promote content or products organically, often though the use of social media. When users freely share content within their social networks a campaign is often considered to have “gone viral” The viral aspect refers to the way viruses spread between people.

So let’s take a look at some of the top viral marketing campaigns of all time

Old Spice – February 2010

No viral video chart would be complete without this gem, with many hilarious follow on videos, this made Old Spice the brand that marketers everywhere wanted to work with. This original video has 49.5M views to date.

TNT Add Drama – April 2012

One of my all-time favourites has to be the TNT ‘push to add drama’ stunt in Belgium, I can never tire of this video. The video has over 51.6M YouTube views and was so successful that a sequel was made to launch TNT in the Netherlands which has over 14.7M views.

Air New Zealand an Expected Briefing – October 2012

To celebrate the release of the first Hobbit film, Air New Zealand released the best safety briefing of all time and secured themselves over 12.1M views. To celebrate the final movie this year they have now released ‘The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made’ in October which has already overtaken the original in views with 13.1M.

Bodyform Responds: The Truth – October 2012

Although it is much disputed whether the original Facebook comment was genuine or a set-up, this video response from Bodyform’s ‘CEO’ was definitely a hit with over 5.6M YouTube views.

LG Elevator Prank – October 2012

Promoting how ‘lifelike’ its new IPS monitors, LG pulled this brilliant stunt replacing an elevator floor with the monitors to make it look like the floor was falling away while unsuspecting people were in the lift to hilarious reactions. The original video has over 22.9M YouTube videos and LG have since filmed other brilliant pranks including the meteor one also below.

Red Bull Space Jump – October 2012

Breaking three world records, Felix Baumgartner completed the iconic space jump for Red Bull in October 2012. The Mission Highlights video alone on Red Bull’s channel has over 37.4M views.

Metro Trains Melbourne Dumb Ways to Die – November 2012

One of the most innovative public safety videos of all time, dumb ways to die was a hit around the world and there have since been numerous sequels creates. The original has an amazing 92.9M views on YouTube and the campaign won numerous awards worldwide.

Three UK #DancePonyDance – February 2013

Three’s advert featuring a moonwalking pony became an instant viral hit amassing a whopping 9.7M YouTube views to date. Three also created the PonyMixer which allowed users to create their own version of the Ad however this has since been removed.

Pepsi Max Test Drive Prank – March 2013

A hilarious prank from Pepsi Max to promote their ‘zero calorie cola in disguise’ by disguising Jeff Gordon and taking a poor unsuspecting car salesman on the test drive of his life. The video has over 43.3M views on YouTube and there have been various follow up videos.

Kmart Ship My Pants – April 2013

Promoting their shipping service, Kmart’s ship my pants advert proved another instant hit, this original has over 21.8M YouTube views. Another of my favourites from Kmart is their ‘Show your Joe’ Christmas advert from the same year (no prizes for guessing why!) with over 18.3M views.

Evian baby&me – April 2013

Evian’s babies campaign is a common favourite amongst marketers and the public alike, proven by the fact this video has over 96M views! A multi-faceted campaign including an app for users to create their own baby image this was a huge success.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches – April 2013

This campaign aimed to prove to women that they were more beautiful than they thought, a powerful video that was uploaded to Dove’s channels worldwide. The original on the US YouTube channel has had over 64.8M views to date.

Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise – October 2013

To promote the movie Carrie, a New York coffee shop was transformed for a hidden camera stunt to capture shoppers’ reactions to telekinesis. The official video has had nearly 60M YouTube views to date.

Volvo Trucks the Epic Split – November 2013

Jean-Claude Van Damme’s epic video doing the splits on two reversing Volvo trucks amazed everyone when it was released in 2013. Who’d have thought a truck video could secure over 76.4M views?!

#NoMakeupSelfie – March 2014

Similar to the above, the #nomakeupselfie dominated UK users’ Facebook timelines throughout March this year. Although not actually started by Cancer Research UK, the Guardian reported the charity had received over £8m in donations thanks to the campaign.

Always #LikeAGirl – June 2014

With feminism and gender equality campaigns securing lots of publicity in 2014 the Always #LikeAGirl was a real hit. The original video has over 53.3M views on YouTube.

#ALSIceBucketChallenge – August 2014

Probably one of the most deserving of a place in this list has to be the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, every celebrity worth talking about got involved as did the public all around the world. Most importantly though, it significantly raised not only awareness of ALS but also donations to ALS charities. According to the BBC over 2.4 million challenge videos were uploaded to Facebook with $98.2m made in donations to the ALS Association (US) and £2.7m to the MND Association (UK). The below graph from Google trends shows how the interest peaked.

Of course we also got involved so if you’d like to relive that gem of a video you can do so here!


Here’s the videos sorted by YouTube views (at the time of writing this post)

Viral chart


Have I missed any of your favourite campaigns in this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Related Posts