Marketing Eye

A chicken suit and 1 billion hits later

It wasn’t exactly highbrow marketing material, but it did the job.  

With only a camera, chicken suit and an office back room, Burger King engineered one of the most successful viral marketing campaigns at that time.

In 2004, the fast food giant launched ‘Subservient Chicken’; an actor in a chicken suit that would perform “any” task dictated by the customers via a web cam.  The Subservient Chicken did picked his nose, did cartwheels, and shook its booty as millions of Burger King fans eagerly watched on.  It wasn’t exactly highbrow marketing material, but it did the job; the Burger King website clocked over 1 billion hits.

Recently, Burger King announced the return of the Subservient Chicken.  Hoping to duplicate the success of a decade ago, they are marketing the submissive chicken as missing, with ‘Lost’ ads appearing in the New York Times and the Houston Chronicle.  Fans are encouraged to use social media to share sightings of the stray bird.  How does this exceedingly simple concept generate viral marketing gold?

Viral content taps in to the human psyche and is the Holy Grail for marketers.  Viral marketing, stripped down to its most basic definition, is a form of marketing that propagates itself.  This self-propagation occurs at an exponential rate that once it gains momentum, it is difficult to contain.   

Since viral promotions encourage voluntary participation, the percentage of targeted traffic is high.  Burger King are going back 10 years, and targeting the original fans who responded to their original campaign.

Viral marketing is largely reliant on word-of-mouth.  It is not the structured advertisement issued by a company which more often than not induces cynicism in the viewer.  A positive word by a satisfied customer is more valuable than any expensive advertisement, and it is this aspect of human behaviour that viral marketing looks to exploit.

Take a moment to evaluate why these 5 videos went viral in 2014:
1.    Nike Football: Winner Stays
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XviR7esUvo
2.    Nike Football: The Last Game
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iy1rumvo9xc
3.    FIRST KISS
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpbDHxCV29A
4.    Always #LikeAGirl
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs
5.    World’s Toughest Job
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HB3xM93rXbY

Viral marketing campaigns are incredibly powerful, and once achieved, it is a marketing success difficult to duplicate.  Share the video content that impacted you this year @marketingeyeaus


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