Gone Viral


Nowadays, viral marketing is a common term. You are very likely to have heard of it. Whilst it is a common term, it is a relatively new term which has been developed through the recent rise of new media. Viral marketing is any marketing strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to other individuals and usually consists of the combination of word-of-mouth techniques with electronic communication through several types of media channels (Algie 2014). The extensive ‘passing on’ of marketing messages is like how a virus spreads and hence why it is called viral marketing. Whilst it utilizes multiple types of media, it is categorised as a ‘strategic marketing application of word-of-mouth’ (Algie 2014).

In the video above, you see a case study of a very successful viral marketing campaign for ‘The Dark Knight’ film known as ‘Why So Serious?’ – named from one of the quotes by the character The Joker during ‘The Dark Knight’ film. It draws their target audience in by using a engaging storyline with a good use of interactivity to it – allowing their target audience to be ‘a part of the story’. It indeed reached a large portion of their target audience with over 10 million people taking part in the viral marketing campaign at least once.

In viral marketing, motivation to pass on a marketing message to another individual can vary from each person targeted in a viral marketing campaign (Schiffman et al. 2014, p. 300). In the ‘Why So Serious?’ viral marketing campaign, the interactivity and engaging storyline drove the motivation for targeted individuals to continue following and being a part of the story as they found it fun and probably are huge fans of the Batman franchise.

Viral marketing, though, is also one of those few forms of marketing that can have an unintended negative effect where individuals are receiving bad marketing messages of a business from a third-party. Unlike word-of-mouth which would affect businesses whose target audiences are very local, viral marketing of a negative message of a business by a third-party can very easily end up taking place on a global scale. The consequences of this can be very difficult to reverse so marketers would have to be ready to fight any unexpected negative marketing of your business by a third-party. This is marketing as we can now see it today. It has ‘gone viral’.


Algie, L 2014, ‘Social Influences On Consumer Behaviour’ PowerPoint slides, MARK217, University of Wollongong, viewed 8 May 2014

Ekalavya Bhattacharya, 2009, Dark Knight – Viral Marketing Campaign, online video, 26 February, YouTube, viewed 13 May 2014, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpuC7HhCPWA&gt;.

Schiffman, L et al. 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson Australia, Frenchs Forest, NSW.


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