Cyber strategy

Viral advertising has yet to make inroads in Oman but it’s only a matter of time


Picture this. You are sitting at your desk on a dreary Saturday morning when a friend emails you an attachment. In search of a little light relief, you click on the link and set in motion a clip in which a gorilla moons about to the lyrics of Phil Collins' I can feel it coming in the air tonight.
As the song reaches a crescendo the gorilla swings into action on the drums, and as the music fades a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk shimmers into view with the slogan, 'A glass and a half full of joy'. It's such a feel-good way to start the working week that you forward the clip on to other friends, thereby becoming part of a viral chain.
A relatively new marketing strategy, viral advertising involves creating an online message that is sufficiently funny or unusual to prompt emailers to forward it on to others. A successful viral will accordingly spread across the Internet like a virus (hence its name). Viral campaigns are the equivalent of word of mouth over the Internet - and word of mouth is what every marketer is looking to generate, according to Solomon Thomas, account director, DDB Oman. The edge with virals is that they multiply far more rapidly than conventional word of mouth, and the content remains consistent in transition."
The Cadbury's Gorilla clip is the epitome of successful viral advertising. Initially made for television, the video was so adored by consumers that they started emailing it to their friends - such was its success that it even spawned a Facebook group called 'We Love The Cadbury Gorilla Ad', says Emma Rose, an account manager at a leading London-based agency. "The brand has profi-ted hugely in a completely unplanned way," she explains. "If a viral is particularly funny or cool, not only do people see the brand but the brand is made cool by association."
The scope and possibilities for viral advertising in Oman are tremendous, believes Suresh Nair, manager of operations, Asha Advertising and Marketing Agency. "Given the relatively high proportion of youth among the population, the tendency to share information either verbally in social gatherings or otherwise, as well as through the Internet, is high. As such viral advertising can form an important part of the media mix for brands in Oman." Solomon Thomas also believes that virals will soon catch on in the sultanate. In fact, DDB Oman is currently in the early stages of developing a viral for one of its key accounts.
In countries where virals are already commonplace it takes an outstanding idea to create a buzz. One of the most iconic virals ever made is Dove's Evolution of Beauty video, which complemented Dove's wider campaign to promote its products using 'real' (as opposed to impossibly beautiful) women. The viral shows an average-looking woman being made up, coiffed and digitally manipulated, after which her 'improved' image is emblazoned on a billboard. 'No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted' reads the closing
slogan. "This viral acted as a gift from the brand to consumer and from woman to woman - the strategy
was faultless," says Leonora Hopkins, account manager, Arc Worldwide/Leo Burnett. Nair adds that the viral became so popular that parodies and spoofs of it were made. "It went on to win the Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions awards."
Dove's Evolution viral looks high-end, but in fact viral marketing is attractive in part because it is relatively low cost. Apart from the costs incurred in producing the viral, there are no additional media costs. Virals also have a degree of integrity; a message spread voluntarily by individuals is likely to be perceived as a 'higher' form of promotion than something screened on TV for instance. The holy grail for all viral-makers is that their creations are either amusing, thought-provoking or enraging, says Thomas. "A good viral is one that makes someone act upon it - forward it!"
The Dove's Evolution and Cadbury's Gorilla clips can be viewed at


Cyber strategy
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