Skip navigation


By Charlie Gill


Ever since Kim Kardashian graced Paper magazine with her rear end and coined the phrase ‘break the internet’, every brand has been trying to do just that.

So how do you do it? 

Standing out from the bigger name brands is becoming increasingly difficult, so launching a successful viral and disruptive campaign is, of course, a desirable achievement. However, there are some considerations to address before trying to make this happen.

1) Is the brand ready?

There’s no point in trying to ‘break the internet’ if that, in turn, might just break your website. If you are planning to drive a vast amount of traffic to your website then it’s sensible to be well prepared, and this means first and foremost having a properly developed website.

When you go viral you want to retain what you can in terms of long-term engagement and technical errors, or a poorly designed website will just cause frustration with users. Similarly, the rest of the brand should be in a good position in terms of having a cohesive strategy to have the strongest impact when it comes to launching.

If there is still a lot of work to do on the above then perhaps the time isn’t right to take your marketing activity to the next level.

2) Do you know your audience?

Knowing and understanding who your audience is and crafting relevant content that speaks to these groups is key to any campaign activity. This will help you to develop the right type of content, the most impactful visuals and have the best knowledge of when maximum reach can be achieved.

Keep an eye on what’s trending, and by spending time on audience research at the start you will hugely increase opportunities for your campaign to perform successfully online

3) Can you risk it?

If your brand sentiment desperately needs improving, it may not be the best time to look at launching a viral campaign. This could be associated with a lot of risks, the main one of course being causing further damage to your brand reputation.

Large scale campaigns often lead to opening the floodgates of coverage and commentary which can be hard to control once it has gone out, however, this is part of the risk - and when you win, you win big. There is also the opportunity to turn the bad noise in to good noise by changing perceptions of the brand through viral activity which focuses on positive PR

4) Is there an easier option?

A lot of brands will fall in to the trap of trying too hard to create theatrical, complicated campaigns and these so often end up losing the message and become transparent as an obvious marketing tactic.

Tapping into your owned resources may save your time, money and energy in the long run and it may be that you already have what you need to go viral. It is therefore important to look at how you can utilise these resources to develop a strategy which will capitalise on what you have and drive the best results.

A recipe for success

Finally, there are a few traits that every viral campaign typically possesses – it needs to be a simple idea that tells a strong story which will resonate with audiences. It needs to be optimised correctly and amplified on the right channels, through the right influencers, at the right time. Beyond this, there is little that can be done to completely manufacture a viral campaign, which is considered more of an art rather than a science.

It is also worth noting that there is a growing sense of ‘back to basics’ marketing, with some brands turning away from traditional big budget Christmas commercials, showing a slight reverse on favouring big bang tactics for a humbler approach. Consider the recent Iceland advert and the £50 advertisement created by videographer Phil Beastall which took over the internet this month. Brands have an opportunity to take advantage of this in their marketing efforts, looking to drive exposure through smarter strategies that tune in to people’s emotions.

Get in touch

Here at twentysix we recently won the award for the Best Large Integrated Search Agency of the Year at the 2018 UK Search Awards. Get in touch to find out how we can help you devise the best strategy to suit your digital marketing needs.


The Author

Charlie Gill

Charlie Gill

Insights & Planning Executive

Charlie is part of the Planning and Insights team here at twentysix. Using her BSc in Psychology, Charlie's work involves researching customer's behaviour and motivations, as well as their world around them. From going out and speaking to consumers in their natural habitats to conducting research in our in-house biometric lab, Charlie uses multiple techniques to become an expert on your customer.