A lot of people have opinions about viral marketing and "what works." Over the years a set of accepted beliefs have been established that tend to guide creative development efforts. Having some basic ideas about what might go viral -- and what surely won't -- has saved countless brands a lot of time and effort.
Many times when brand and agency leaders set virality as an objective, what they really want is free distribution for kerplunk brand messages. That is something that won't work. Viral is about capturing people's hearts and emotions -- about inspiring people so much that they want to distribute the ideas that have affected them to the people they care about. It's not about millions of people spontaneously deciding to distribute videos of paper towel absorbency side by side tests.
But given that creativity is a field that thrives on innovation and rule breaking, it seems worthwhile to determine if the accepted rules are actually valid. Here are eights brands that broke the viral rules and won views and fans in a big way. With each example, we'll begin with the generally accepted rule and then show how a particular brand was able to get results even though they broke it.