megaphoneThe Internet has allowed us to achieve the unthinkable. Reach millions of viewers, increase sales by 200, nay 500%, and grow our business till it’s too big to fit in the garage, all for a minimum investment. We may not have the advertising might of giants like Nike, Honda, or Pepsi, but, thankfully, we don’t need it. With a budget of about 1,000 bucks (or even less!), we have the possibility to create a really great viral ad and implement a campaign that will bring us ROI beyond our wildest dreams. However, it’s not that simple. We still have to come up with this magnificent stroke of genius, the kind of ad or video that will have everyone talking, and spread faster that you can say, “Achoo!”.

If it is inspiration you seek, then take a look at these memorable viral campaigns. Hopefully, they´ll provide valuable lessons as to what kinds of things attract audiences, as well as insights into the kind of resources you can use to create a truly original viral ad.
1. The Million Dollar Homepage (
How many people smacked themselves on the head for not thinking of this? About a million? Alex Tew, its 21-year-old creator, made an initial investment of £50 on the domain name and a basic web-hosting package. Then, he proceeded to sell a pixel on his page for one dollar. The rest is history. He reached his goal of earning one million dollars and then some. Now, he’s selling 1000 limited edition poster prints (signed by Alex himself!) and offering an opportunity to “own a print of Internet history.”
2. Transport for London – Do The Test (
If you surprise the viewer, you will surely be successful in going viral, as shown by this brilliant ad developed by Transport for London. The campaign was created to increase safety for cyclists. It is tremendously effective in getting its point across. They have now launched a new awareness test on their website in a whodunit scenario.
3. Burger King – Subservient Chicken (
A classic among viral campaign ads, this one allows you to “have it your way” with our feathered friend. It was created to promote Burger King’s Tender Crisp chicken sandwich, and the numbers prove it was highly successful in doing so. What makes it so deliciously viral is the interactivity; you send in a command in a message box and the chicken willingly obliges. There are more than 300 different commands that the chicken will act upon, thus entertaining the user for hours.
4. Blendtec – Will It Blend? (
This is highly addictive stuff, folks! Watch Tom blend anything from iPods to a bag of marbles, and you’ll want more. Reportedly, Blendtec blenders sales increased by a whopping 800%. Sheer genius.
5. Smirnoff – Tea Partay (
Watch these stereotypical preppy rich kids rap, and you’ll understand the ad’s viral power. By April 2007, it had more than 3 million hits on You Tube, and now has its own website.
6. Dove Evolution Video (
One of the most talked about ads in recent years, it was an integral part of Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. It has won awards, been discussed in mainstream TV programs, and the exposure generated by this spot has an estimated worth of 150 million dollars. It is inspiring in more ways than one.
7. Hotmail
No list of the most successful viral marketing campaigns would be complete without Hotmail’s emblematic campaign. All it took was a small ad attached to every outgoing email inviting the recipient to join, and in a very short time, Hotmail grew to mammoth proportions.
You’ve heard it before. Emulate; don’t imitate. Pray to the muses for inspiration and you just might make a cool million. Or at least get a million viewers.