Does ‘going viral’ impact the bottom line?

Posted: May 28, 2013

Does ‘Going Viral’ Impact the Bottom Line? – by Chris Primos of Blast Brand Catalysts

Viral is magical. Viral spells supersonic awareness. One minute you’re a brand, and the next, you’re an über brand with universal appeal. You’ve achieved the ultimate: a self-perpetuating marketing campaign. But does this ultimately translate into higher sales?

Return on Investment

Although the medium is ‘free’, you’ve probably spent a meaningful part of your budget on it. Naturally, you do want it boosting sales. People can love your brand – but the relationship is just not sustainable without literally buying into it. And let’s face it, non-return investments don’t go down well with Exco.

So what makes a viral campaign truly effective in the intended marketing sense that it converts awareness into sales? It depends on how you go viral. Whether your virality is part of an integrated campaign, a publicity stunt, or a social media controversy.

‘Out there’ vs. ‘In there’

It’s always good to be ‘out there’ and top of mind. Yet in the ideal world, it’s more pertinent to be ‘in there’, where you’re resonating with a defined audience for a specific purpose, preferably getting them to engage right back with you; helping that all-important propensity to purchase. Relationship inducing, sales motivated virality works best when it’s an actual objective of an integrated campaign. It’s in there.

The Nando’s “Dictator” commercial, for example, was a provocation that catapulted online interest. It was out there. Another superbly crafted disruptor; a knee-slapping guffaw. It resonated with the intelligentsia. But probably didn’t activate the cash registers as much.

The FNB “You Can Help” campaign was out there, by controversial default. The socially sensitive, but absolutely pertinent, point was made. Unfortunately, its virality did not induce debate with associated brand awareness, but rather polarization – with associated brand awareness. What held sway in the end was shareholder interest, rather than social conviction.

MTN’s 2010 World Cup Football lead-up was totally, well, ‘Ayoba’. It was in there. Whether your were an MTNer or not, you happily adopted the new, universal South Africanism. To have a Gautrain driver commandeer the intercom and share how much “Ayoba” he wished for our onward journeys from OR Tambo didn’t get more ‘in’ than that. In fact, just to prove how great a big idea this still is, the current homage to “Ayoba” is the Dodge commercial. Some things are Dodge, and some aren’t. But we’ll leave that to its own dodgeness.

Black Label’s Kaiser Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates “Be the Coach” frenzy was decidedly in there. Laduma! Like a flint to gunpowder, it ignited the imagination of respective team supporters. Who wouldn’t order a Black Label at their local for the opportunity to choose their ideal supporters’ team? The result – Orlando Pirates 1: Kaiser Chiefs 0: Black Label 10.

These concepts, or their consequences, ignite our brand synapses. But do our fingers necessarily start tickling our wallets? In there? Yes. Out there? Not so much.

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About Blast Brand Catalysts

Established in 2001, Blast Brand Catalysts is a hybrid studio/agency that crosses the specialist disciplines of brand identity development and advertising. Design and advertising have dedicated skillsets and objectives. But working to a singular, longer-term strategic projection at the outset will factor market and media competitiveness as well as category differentiation. There is also an immediate, fluid transition from brand inception to activation.

Blast Brand Catalysts researches, strategises, designs, applies, implements, evolves and invigorates with proven, follow-through calibre. The tightly talented team gets it done, gets it done well, and gets the very next thing done even better.