Commercials are excellent means of advertising. But, they only reach audiences watching TV at that one moment that they are playing. Unless, they were good enough to go viral. If your commercial becomes viral, now you are reaching audiences across the Internet, on social sites like Facebook, YouTube, blogs, etc. So what makes a commercial good enough to be shared online and spread like wildfire? There's a few key ingredients to make a commercial viral. I have made a list of the top five factors below.
For a commercial to become viral, it almost always has to be funny. Humor is the number one key ingredient. But, it has to be the right kind of humor. Humor for five-year-olds is not the same as Family Guy humor. You also need to think about your target audience, and who's going to be doing the social sharing of the commercial. For the most part it will be Digital Natives, aka Gen Ys, so targeting their age group and type of humor is your best game plan. Wacky humor is a great tactic, where it's original and kind of random, in such a way that it's hilarious. Take this Holiday Inn commercial for example; it's extremely random and kind of weird, but that's what makes it really funny. One of my favorite funny commercials is this Snickers commercial, where a football player suffers an injury and is now convinced he is Batman.
2. Goes Over the Line
Which brings us onto the next factor, which is content that steps over the line, as slightly shocking, raunchy, politically incorrect, adult-themed, etc. Now, you don't want to go too far and offend a bunch of people, but if it's inappropriate in a hilarious way, you are on your way to viral success. People don't share commercials about $1 cheeseburgers, people share commercials that are funny, out of the ordinary, and what makes a commercial even more viral is adult humor. Take Axe commercials for example, which have a fantastic use of creativity, raunchiness and humor to create funny, extremely viral commercials.
3. Has a Twist
Commercials that appear to be ordinary at first but end in a hilariously unpredictable way really get people's attention. Even if it starts off weird, getting weirder at the end makes the commercial that much better. Take this Cadbury commercial for example; a random gorilla feeling the music listening to a Phil Collins song... it's definitely odd... then suddenly it starts playing the drums with extreme passion. And then the commercial ends. It's weird as heck, memorable, and it's funny. Another good example of a commercial with a twist is this John West Salmon ad, as well as the "That's Why I Chose Yale" commercial on this page of Best College Commercials.
4. Rides on the Coattails of a Popular Trend
There's nothing more sharable than content that alludes to a popular trend or current fad that Digital Natives recognize and relate to. A commercial that incorporates something like this, such as an expression, song, word, dance, style, etc that is currently sweeping the youth, can be pure genius. When a digital native sees something that caters specifically to their generation and humor, they usually love it, share it with their friends, their friends share it with their friends, and from there it spreads like wildfire. For example, the expression "YOLO" is currently a huge fad, meaning "You only live once." Yes, it sounds stupid, but it's popular, and if a commercial were to incorporate this expression it's almost a guarantee it would become viral. Or for example, the current Ray-Ban trend; even Rihanna is singing about wearing them. Another idea is riding on the colossal trend of UGG boots, which would get a lot of attention, especially among females, who make up the majority of social media users on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Coming up with your own brilliant ideas can be hard, so riding on the coattails of existing trends and popular fads is an alternatively sure way to viral success.
5. Isn't Too Intellectual
Commercials need to be made for, let's face it, idiots. The lowest common denominator. This is what commercials need to be targeting, because that is the majority of your audience. Most highly intellectual people mute the commercials while watching TV, if they watch TV at all. And the fact remains that if a commercial has a joke that is very intellectual, it won't be understood by many of its viewers, and therefore won't be shared as much as it could've been if it was less intellectual. Highly sharable content is not content for geniuses, but for the average to low IQ. Raunchy and inappropriate or wacky and odd humor is what goes viral, for the most part. Take these funny diamond commercials, for example -- they all target an audience with lower IQs, which is key.
All of these factors are what can make a commercial go viral, shared via social media, blogs, articles, word of mouth, etc. All it takes is thinking about who your audience is, who's going to be sharing the video, where, and what will make that audience want to share the video. And these five key ingredients can help your commercial achieve viral success!