we see that the creator of the bizarre-but-funny cartoon "The End of the World
" has been hired by Nike to create three cartoons advertising Nike activewear. Check it out, it's some pretty funny stuff.
The idea of viral marketing is to create an ad that viewers will love so much that they'll pass it on to their friends, who then pass it on to their friends (hence the term "viral"). Think SuperBowl commercials gone crazy. "Viral marketing" can also apply to non-video marketing campaigns that are designed to get people talking, spreading the message.
Viral marketing can be an extremely cost-effective method of brand-building, as your only cost is in the ad development -- no media buying. I would think it is primarily effective among young, internet-saavy consumers, since they are the ones who will rapidly pass funny websites along to friends over email and instant messaging.
In order for a viral campaign to be effective, it has to not only be very funny, but fairly edgy. It's the kind of thing that you wouldn't see on TV -- I think it's safe to assume that Nike's media buys are urinating-camel-free. This also confines you to the young demographic, as people outside of it are more likely to be offended. It's also probably most effective for brands that are relative unknowns, though established brands can definitely use it to create a "hipper" image.
Some examples of viral marketing:
If you're interested in creating a viral marketing campaign for your company, The Viral Factory
is considered the master of this art. They made the Ford and Trojan ads above, and they have some more great ones on their website.
McDonald's uses graffiti to woo the US Latino market