Will your Ads go viral?

When I went back to Vietnam last November, everyone was talking about this ad. Likes, shares, memes, remix versions appeared everywhere on social media. This is one of the most viral ads in Vietnam recently.

In this digital age, people talk less about ads published on traditional media. What makes them remember is what their friends share and discuss on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Nowadays, virality is somewhat not only a “need” but also a “must” for advertisers.

However, why do some ads go viral while others remain invisible? What kind of content keeps viewers interested and motivated to share?

Content is the key to viralization. In an article about “Viral Ads’ characteristics”, Nogueira and Chimenti (2016, pp. 451-452) prove that Surprise and Engagement are two most essential elements for a viral content. This means viewers tend to share content which they find an emotional connection with and which they believe can bring some significant values to them and their friends. That’s why positive content is more likely to be shared than negative content because it boosts people’s mood (op. cit.). Besides, among six primary emotions (e.g. surprise, fear, anger, sadness, joy and disgust.), Surprise most stimulate sharing behavior. Sharing same idea, in her article for Harvard Business Review, Teixeira says people get bored easily. Therefore, viral ads need to tell stories which are like “emotional roller coasters” with twists and turns to surprise audiences.

The “Blue Electronic” ad is weird and it is definitely something that Vietnameses have never expected to come from an electronic retailer. We share it with our friends because we want to surprise them. That’s how it go viral.

Next, let’s see whether this ad surprises us.

While viral ads need to build an ’emotional roller coaster’ to lead audiences from surprise to greater surprise, Cheetos’ ad, instead, drives us from bore to confusion. That’s why 9 years after its release, this ad only gets 98,000 views on YouTube.

However, let’s remember we are using social media as channels for viral ads. Therefore, at least we need to show some respect to our distributors. In my opinion, content is key for viral ads, but advertisers still need to understand the social aspect of the social network and the behaviors of the users within the sites we are planning to use.  This is also mentioned in a study of Woerndl, Papagiannidis and Bourlakis (2008) named ‘Internet-induced marketing techniques: Critical factors of viral marketing’.

With these in mind, hope that next time we can welcome the born of a viral ad!


Nogueira, R., & Chimenti, P. (2016). Contagious Content: Viral Video Ads Identification of Content Characteristics that Help Online Video Advertisements Go Viral. REMark,15(4), N/a.

Teixeira, TS 2012, ‘The New Science of Viral Ads’, Harvard Business Review, accessed 8 May 2017, <https://hbr.org/2012/03/the-new-science-of-viral-ads?referral=00060&gt;.

Woerndl, M., Papagiannidis, S., Bourlakis, M. A., & Li, F. (2008). Internet-induced marketing techniques: Critical factors of viral marketing. International Journal of Business Science and Applied Management, 3(1), 33-45.


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