International Advertising in a European Context, Spring 2010
Viral Ads: Thinking Globally, Acting Globally
7 May 2010
We are now living in a digital world. Everything from reading the newspaper to buying our groceries is now available online. We have incorporated words such as “Google” into our vocabularies and shifted our focus from watching commercials on TV to watching videos on YouTube.
Worldwide, people young and old are online—‘surfing the web,’ blogging, tweeting, and constantly generating two-way forms of communication. Viral advertisements can be quite alluring to companies, who want to cut through the clutter of overly saturated traditional media channels; produce content at a low budget cost that that has the potential of reaching consumers in every one of their markets worldwide; and sometimes, distribute a viral video that would otherwise not have been allowed to air on broadcast television.
The statistics don’t lie either: Companies are spending increasingly less ad dollars on traditional media forms. Instead, brands are now turning to the Internet and social media. The Internet now accounts for 14% of global advertising spending, and is the fastest growing medium, surpassing the budgets allocated to magazines and newspapers.
For my portfolio, I am analyzing five international brands and their approach to viral advertisements. I use these viral videos as case studies in which to analyze and discuss the potential effectiveness, as well as pitfalls, of these ads in connecting with their global consumers.
Although many of the advertising campaigns that I chose to analyze have offline components– such as print, television and outdoor advertisements—I specifically wanted to focus on online-only viral videos. This is mainly because of the potential for viral videos to reach such large audiences worldwide, while communicating the same, single message. Unlike traditional forms of media that can be culturally adjusted for different audiences, Internet doesn’t allow for these controls. Once an ad is in cyberspace, companies have no idea who will end up watching it. Viral advertisements are almost impossible to recall, so it is crucial for advertisers to get the right message, to the right people, using an effective executional style.
Therefore, companies must think globally and act globally when producing a viral advertisement.