Believe it or not, one of the most successful viral marketing campaigns in history occurred years before YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and most modern conceptions of the Internet even existed. Prior to the wide adoption of the web (1977), the original Star Wars used viral marketing in the SF specialty magazines, which caused enough of a buzz to get picked up by the mainstream media, which actually covered the opening of the movie as a news event.
With the growing tendency of viral marketing campaigners to offer financial incentives to those who are willing to pass their message on, there seems to be an ever growing possibility that what advertisers consider to be legitimate marketing will, to the unwilling consumer, soon start to seem like just more SPAM.
Incidentally, the site originally linked to a then-blank MySpace page that was likely going to be another part of the marketing scheme…until a few posters from 420chan’s wrestling board managed to get access to the page and defaced it. The link was removed less than 48 hours later.
All I Want for Christmas is a PSP provides an excellent example of how not to engage in Viral Marketing: pretending to be a normal person, insulting to the audience in a bad way and, if you’ll forgive the marketing speak, being more interested in selling the product than building the brand.
The goal of marketers interested in creating successful viral marketing programs is to identify individuals with high Social Networking Potential (SNP) and create Viral Messages that appeal to this segment of the population and have a high probability of being passed along.