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Is Viral Marketing good for your business? The Pros & Cons of this Trend (Updated)

Where do we start? Since I've started working in advertising all clients wanted a viral campaign. The first one that comes to mind was the viral campaign ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which in the year 2014 raised over $200K for the non-profit Als Association that was looking to raise awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Today, with Whatsapp and Telegram we have funny viral memes everywhere. 

Virality has obtained a new meaning, which is pretty powerful for brands worldwide, but: Is going viral good for your brand? What are their benefits and also their counterparts? How have brands used it successfully? In this article, like scientists, we'll investigate this huge "Viral Marketing" trend to give you all the knowledge to take advantage of this. 

Is viral a cheap way to develop brand awareness. Does it just work the top of the funnel? Here is your complete guide to make the right digital marketing funnel.

Viral Marketing

What is Viral Marketing?

A viral marketing campaign is the one that gets so popular among your target audience that they even start to share it with other ones, ending up in a considerable mass diffusion all over the platforms. This can be done intentionally, although those who experienced it admit that it happened "by accident."

Before this digital era, the "virality" of a campaign used to happen in the word of mouth format. Still, with social media and the consumption habits of later generations like Millenials and Gen Z, it is easier to spread to a broader audience on the world wide web.

When you achieve a viral campaign, users are doing the work for you, spreading your brand's message to a vast audience, being a strategy that is cost-effective and great for generating brand awareness. You also need a good domain rating score.

But, there are two sides of a coin to this theme. See, if your campaign gets viral for the right reasons, you'll get popular with less effort. But, and this can get people a little bit freaked out, what happens when your campaign gets viral for all the wrong reasons?

See, this trend has a gray line that can be either beneficial or fatidical for brands, so we should study this even more. But before this, we'll check out some examples of brands that did it right when doing their viral campaigns.

By the way, CodeDesign is a leading digital marketing agency ranked #1 in Lisbon, Portugal

Here are a few examples of Viral Campaigns that  I can recall and that, for some reason, caught my attention: 

Successful Viral Marketing campaigns

Old Spice

If you've ever scrolled through your social media feed and had a laugh at an Old Spice advertisement, then you're familiar with how strong the brands presence is. It's quite surprising that Old Spice originally known for womens fragrance has successfully reinvented itself and become a force in the world of media with its unique and humorous content.

Their quirky advertisements on media, such as the The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign have completely transformed their brand image and sparked countless internet memes ultimately raising their brand awareness to unprecedented levels.

But what was their secret?

Old Spice capitalized on the element of surprise and humor by catching their audience off guard with twists and hilarious content. Whether it was riding a horse backwards or teleporting to locations in a shot they never failed to amaze viewers turning each social media ad into an instant viral sensation.

They demonstrated that even an everyday product, like body wash could ignite curiosity and provide entertainment if marketed cleverly.


Sometimes, collaborations may seem unusual at first. Upon inspection, they actually make a lot of sense. I loved the pairing of Heinz and Absolut Vodka. Surprisingly though their collaboration was a hit.

These known brands joined forces to introduce a limited edition tomato vodka pasta sauce that drew inspiration from a TikTok recipe.

By capitalizing on existing consumer interest these brands were able to create a product that was already popular in its right.

Enough 90% of the #vodkapasta views on TikTok come from adults aged 16 24 in the UK. Furthermore TikTok users in this age group are 17% more likely to drink vodka on a basis compared to others their age. Additionally 58% of UK individuals aged 16 24 express an interest in food. Drink overall—with this number rising to 63% for TikTok users 

Heinz and Absolut Vodka couldn't have made a move, with this collaboration—it's as if everything fell perfectly into place. With the growing trend of food collaborations they serve as an example of how to connect with existing customers while expanding into markets by leveraging social media trends.


When Heineken wanted to connect with gamers they set their sights on a place known for its climate rooted soccer culture and a vibrant gaming community. We're talking about Brazil ofc.

In the beer brands advertisement a group of friends is making plans to hang out for the evening. The twist? They're actually meeting up online to indulge in some video game action. These gamers view their night out as an adventure, in front of their screens. The campaign targets the audience in Brazil. Not are they 12% more likely to have engaged in gaming with their real life friends in the past month but they also show a higher preference for Heineken compared to gamers, in Mexico, Columbia and Argentina.

Heineken successfully combines the aspect of gaming with a touch of enjoyment. This is what we refer to communicating with your audience.


Making cybersecurity a popular topic isn't a task. 1Password managed to achieve it with the assistance of the new co owner of Wrexham Football Club.

In this advertisement for the password management app, Ryan Reynolds motivates the team to safeguard their information. However he quickly discovers that they are already on top of it. So he switches gears. Starts talking about skincare routines.

It's a campaign that utilizes the excitement surrounding Reynolds and Wrexham to draw attention to privacy. This is significant considering that less than one third of consumers change their passwords monthly and only one in four use a password manager. The numbers aren't much better for businesses either as 26% of tech decision makers consider improving cybersecurity a business challenge while 22% view enhancing security as a growth initiative.

While these figures may appear low 1Passwords campaign is right on target. 

Singapore Be Steady! by Gov. sg

Singapore is one of the hubs of digital marketing in the world, and this consciousness campaign for COVID 19 achieved an excellent viral effect on the country.

In 2020, the government of the Asiatic country released a music video from Phua Chu Kang, a beloved character of this country, repiping about safety measures and what citizens should and shouldn't do about COVID. To this date, the video has over 1,6 million views on YouTube.

An excellent factor for the virality of this campaign is that it reminded its citizens of a similar campaign during the SARS epidemic in 2003, in which the PCK itself carried out a similar dynamic of awareness. Besides, if you listen to the song is kind of a banger; just listen to this...

Source: YouTube.

Ramadan by McDonald's Singapore

Once again, we return to the Asian country, but this time, we have a campaign that strikes a sentimental chord with the audience.

First, we must give a little context. This McDonald's ad is about a delivery man doing his job while celebrating Ramadan. Ramadan is a celebration of Israeli origin, in which Muslims promise to go through a fast during the entire 9th month of the Islamic calendar. This is done to commemorate the first revelation of the Koran to Mamma.

Looking at advertising in this context, we can see why it moves sensitive nerves in users, making its virality move from Asian countries to regions like America. Buzzfeed picked up the ad for an article. To date, the video has 1.45 million views on YouTube.

Source: YouTube.

Another amazing Ramadan campaign was uber Eats 


They reached out to customers during this period by displaying billboards featuring popular Iftar dishes and encouraging them to schedule dinner deliveries at the perfect time.

What's even better? The billboards are updated daily to reflect the changing time, which shifts a few minutes each day.

Uber Eats seamlessly becomes part of the community dialogue by showing consumers that they understand their needs.

The success of this campaign can be attributed to a established marketing principle; inclusivity is important.

The Vans "Damn, Daniel" sensation

This may be the best example of a viral campaign where the brand didn't have to do anything to get viral; their users did it for them.

As we said, viral phenomenons aren't planned; they usually happen. And this is what happened in 2016 when the shoes and apparel company made headlines because of a Snapchat joke of two teenagers saying, "Damn, Daniel."

Young people went crazy with these videos and loved them, but Vans took advantage of them once they noticed their popularity.

The shoe company experienced an immediate increase in sales with a 20% increase in direct to consumers sales, while online sales grew by 30%. But the brilliant part of all this was the actual response of the brand. When the company noticed the popularity of this trend, it changed its marketing campaign and set up its website to send all users to the white shoes in the viral video.

The planets did align for the brand because all of this happened during the 50th anniversary of the show brand.

Take a look at the video:

Source: YouTube.

How to create Viral Campaigns?

Remember, viral campaigns usually can't be built; we can't predict what will become extremely popular and what won't. However, like everything in marketing, there are strategies that we can follow to achieve this goal.

Some of these are...

Stay on top of trends.

Do you remember those funny Baby Yoda memes, or maybe the one with the cat and the girl yelling at him? Well, we must tell you something, these memes are now irrelevant, so using them in a campaign would be almost painful for your brand. 

Since we are talking about viral content that goes hand in hand with trends, you need to stay on top of trends in your niche and pop culture.

Taking advantage of these important events to take advantage of it will be beneficial for the virality of your content. 

Still, you should know what you can play with and what you can't. Depending on your audience or market, there are practices like meme marketing or, perhaps, a TikTok dance, which obviously may not go with your brand if you are targeting a market of Gen X or even Baby Boomers. Memes aren't the only trends you should care about since news, global events or even Holidays are excellent sources of content for any viral content.

You must learn which waves to ride and which ones just to let go.

Viral Marketing Trend

Engage with your user's emotions

In the previous examples of the campaigns in Singapore, we saw how through emotions, we could cause a stir in the reaction of our users.

In the case of PCK's video, humour is key to achieving a piece that can effectively get its message across while also entertaining the masses. Also, the work has a plus which is that it is a highly catchy song.

When we see a funny video, we usually share it with our friends on networks. If your campaign achieves this effect, it is most likely that your video will be forwarded to countless new contacts, achieving virality for your campaign.

Now, laughter is not the only way to move your audience; in fact, real-life or emotional situations in which we connect with the character are as powerful and can make your message inspire your audience simultaneously. Hence the effectiveness of McDonald's Ramadan campaign, where we connect with the character with a simple story and cause us to want to share that beautiful story with people.

Emotions are the primary driver of great stories, and if you know how to use them within your audience's storytelling, you will be able to connect with your audience and do the work to convey your message to others. 

Read to find what's the good CPC in your industry.

Source: YouTube.

Use long-format content

If you are an expert in your niche, then the knowledge you have is worth gold, and if you know how to express it in your content in a didactic and easy way, your users will soon continue sending it to others with interests.

Now the idea is that you make long-form pieces with enough interesting information for your audience to engage and decide to share it with their friends. This will increase your chances of virality, making you look like an authority in your field.

Remember that proven knowledge is gold, especially on the internet, where fake news or misleading information abound everywhere.

Don't forget the share button.

This tip is relatively straightforward, and although it seems obvious, we don't mind reminding you of the importance of a CTA when we talk about viral content.

The trigger for something to go viral is that it can be easily shared on all platforms. That's why we recommend you never forget the attention calls for your users to share and even place a button on them that makes everything more accessible with a "subscribe," "share," or any other action you want to suggest.

Viral Marketing.

The Pros & Cons of Viral Marketing

Well, now we can go on to answer the most critical part of this article, viral marketing is perfect for your business.

In the case of Mcdonald's or Vans, we saw that viral marketing achieved its goal. Still, even so, it is worth analyzing the pros and cons of this practice so that you can deduce if this strategy should be something you aim for in your business or if You should focus your effort on something that brings you more benefits.

Then let's get started...

The good side of Viral Marketing

It is a Cost Effective strategy.

One of the most valuable benefits of viral marketing is that you will achieve something immense at the lowest cost. Let's understand that when something goes viral, it is not we who spend on ads to appear on the screens of hundreds of thousands of users. They are sharing us for free and spreading our influence to every corner.

It's a great way to generate leads and more traffic.

If the message of your viral campaign has had its indicated effect, chances are that your users will want to subscribe to your services or, better yet, buy directly from them. It's no use being viral if our campaign is just something anecdotal rather than a contagious effect that makes your new leads want to know more about you. Therefore, going viral can do wonders in increasing your overall brand awareness.

It increases your Brand's Credibility.

If you become famous, people will begin to believe more in your brand as a reference, thus increasing your level and authority as a company.

Although this can be a double-edged sword, since there are people who, despite being viral, are not the most reliable sources, if your brand has to sustain its credibility, this will be an excellent boost.

Pros & Cons of Viral Marketing.

The downside of Viral Marketing

It isn't recommended for small businesses.

A viral campaign can be a godsend for a company with the budget of Vans or Louis Vuitton, but what happens when a small business starting overnight increases its demand exponentially? They will probably fall short.

Viral marketing may not be very beneficial if you are at least starting your adventures as an entrepreneur and do not have the machinery or production to serve dozens of users who came to your business for your campaign. When you start dispatching these users, they will be dissatisfied and share their bad experiences with whoever dares to talk about you, which is not very good publicity for your brand.

It isn't easy to measure.

Virality is not a metric that can be quantified or, failing that, studied. As we have seen, this depends on external factors - mostly luck - and that is why we will find ourselves in a mess when we want to measure the elements that made this campaign successful. Conversely, virality happens often through word of mouth, and our trusty management software cannot estimate these factors.

In addition, there is another factor against it: yes, we have probably reached too many people, but perhaps these are not our desired audience. It is hardly credible to think that when something goes viral, all that great mass is interested in our product, and that is when this virality can lose "its magic." The famous saying that quality is better than quantity could be referenced in this case.

You could get viral for the wrong reasons.

This is perhaps the most catastrophic thing that the internet does not forgive.

When we say that you should adopt the trends to your niche, it is so that you don't end up making a fool of yourself.

It looks cool when a youth brand references "Stranger Things" or any other fashion series. Still, if an insurance company references the youth series looking to "be cool," the effect may be the opposite.

For reasons like this, it is good to know our audience to assess how much humour they can or can't stand.

For the rest, we must be careful with this since being viral we want a good faculty of our company to be exalted, not that it be an embarrassing moment for it.

Source: YouTube.

Read this guide to find why voice search optimization is so crucial today.

Here is a complete guide on Amazon listing optimization and check these amazing listing tips.

If you have any thoughts on traditional marketing methods, then check this amazing blog on digital marketing vs traditional marketing.

Final Thoughts

We believe that at the end of this entire article, we can conclude something: It is not that viral marketing is good or bad, but what is recommended is that virality is not your final goal but, in the best of cases, a pleasant surprise.

If we go with the mentality of being viral, we may already get our minutes of fame on the internet because fame on the networks is ephemeral. In most cases, we will increase all our values; if we don't know how to maintain that popularity with a well-defined strategy and an excellent product, we will be like a "one-hit wonder" of marketing.

The idea is that you define a strategy worth investing in and that you can measure if it was effective at the end of the month and how you can continue moving forward from there. As experts in digital marketing, our team of professionals at Codedesign will be your best ally in defining clear and quantifiable objectives that can make your brand grow even more. If you become viral, we have all the professionals who will know how to take advantage of this, so contact us so that we can do business.

Until a new article, see you!

About CodeDesign

Codedesign is a digital marketing agency specializing in e-commerce and B2B online marketing. Our digital team utilizes the latest digital marketing tools and strategies to help clients reach their business goals. We offer comprehensive services such as website design, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, performance marketing, social media marketing, CRM and marketing automation, email marketing, and more. Our experts create and implement customized digital marketing campaigns to increase website traffic, generate leads, and drive sales. Our expertise in e-commerce and B2B marketing allows us to understand the nuances of the digital marketplace and create effective marketing solutions tailored to their client's needs.
CodeDesign is leading:
- Digital Agency
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Feel free to contact us to see the unprecedented growth of your business.


Author: Bruno Gavino.
CEO of Codedesign. Head of Digital. Board Advisor at GLC Group. Board Advisor at CCLI. Board Advisor at ILC. Board Advisor at Portugal Ventures. Digital Marketing.

Bruno Gavino has carved out an influential reputation, holding the position of CEO at Codedesign. In this role, he's at the forefront of shaping digital strategies and innovative solutions that drive the company's vision forward. Beyond his leadership at Codedesign, Bruno wears multiple hats, serving as the Head of Digital, a role that further amplifies his expertise and influence in the digital marketing sector.

His proficiency isn't just confined to executive roles; he extends his insights and expertise as a Board Advisor for a range of esteemed organizations. These include the GLC Group, CCLI, ILC, and Portugal Ventures. Each of these advisory roles speaks to his versatility, showcasing his ability to provide strategic guidance across diverse sectors and platforms.

Rooted in a deep understanding of digital marketing, Bruno's influence has had a ripple effect, enabling businesses to harness the power of digital transformation and innovative marketing strategies. His leadership and advisory roles, combined with his commitment to pushing the boundaries of digital marketing, solidify his position as a key figure in the evolving digital landscape.

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