Viral marketing is marketing that is spread by others. It could be the main steam media, bloggers, social advocates, radicals, cultural subgroups, community leaders, protesters and/or politicians.
The attraction of viral marketing is that it spreads quickly and almost effortlessly. The viral marketer only needs to flick the spark and fan the flames. The danger of viral marketing is that once you create it, it takes on a life of its own. You can’t control the direction or the acceleration. Viral marketing is like a forest fire or viral outbreak efficient at spreading and difficult to control.
Read the book, “The Tipping Point” to see how a marketing virus can work as a powerful marketing tool. Paul Revere’s viral message, “The British are coming” is one example.
A recent example of viral marketing in action is the teen-targeted campaign launched by Mac’s Convenience Stores in Ontario to sell new flavoured ice-drinks (called Frosters). The new flavours are “WTF” and “OMG” which most teens know mean “What the F**k” and “Oh my Gawd”. In addition to using vulgar product names Mac’s promoted the new flavours with a provocative poster featuring a nun and a goat bowing in the presence of the cup of WTF.
Many adults didn’t know the meaning. But as they are learning some are pissed. (Some folks are easily annoyed.) Emotional support and protests are two contributing elements of a viral marketing campaign.
To be successful this virus only needs to drive one summer of ice drink sales. Last year it was Bloody Zit. This year it is WTF.
So who else is spreading the WTF virus?
Dropping the f-bomb
From Friday's Globe and Mail
May 18, 2007 at 9:06 AM EDT
The purple brew is called "WTF" - a common acronym for "what the fuck" used in instant-messaging chats and text messages - and it's causing a stir in communities across the country. Earlier this week, residents in Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins, Ont., threatened to boycott Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., the parent company of Mac's, about what they see as an offensive advertising campaign.
Read “Dropping the f-bomb” at the Globe and Mail (Notice the long list of comments posted.)
Teen tells premier 'FLICK OFF' poor choice
Timmons Daily Press
Editorial - Thursday, May 10, 2007 @ 10:00
(Editor's note: The following is an open letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty from 14-year-old Timmins teen Jesse Fontaine.)
I am a home-schooled Christian, living in Timmins. I am currently completing Grade 8, have an interest in politics and last year won the Short Story Category at The Daily Press Literary Awards. According to a Mac's convenience stores representative, the "WTF" is supposed to stand for "WHAT'S THE FLAVOUR" but we all know that the "WTF" on the cup implies the vulgar phrase "WHAT THE FLICK" (I used "Flick" because I don't use the "F" word that Mac's, M&M Meats and Subway intentionally, or otherwise, represent with the "F" in the "WTF" so proudly posted at their stores.)
Read this article in The Timmons Daily Press
OMG. Mac's Froster campaign leaves bad taste in some mouths
Sault St Maire Sault Star
Local News - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 Updated @ 7:28:28 AM
Mac’s Convenience has included popular acronyms used online that have foul language in its latest promotion to market its Froster fountain drink. Signs posted above the beverage machine read WTF, OMGWTF, RUNTSOMGWTF for small, medium and large sizes. The website, www.urbandictonary.com, describes OMGWTF as “the commonly accepted Internet abbreviation for Oh my God, what the f---” while the acronym WTF “generally stands for” What the f---. RUNTS means Are you nuts?
Read the rest of OMG article in the Sault Star.
Mac's Talks Dirty
May 10, 2007
By CSD Staff
Frozen drink's promotional campaign takes heat for interpreted vulgarity.
Along with the negative attention the poster is getting for its interpreted blasphemy, Mac's Froster drinks are also raising controversy for the "WTF" printed across the cups. WTF is a frequently used abbreviation made popular by instant and text messaging. Some imagination may be required to figure out the acronym.
Mac's has protested that the "F" stands for "Flavour," instead of the four-letter expletive, however, the names given to the medium- and large-variety of Frosters--titled with the abbreviations "OMGWTF" and "RUNTSOMGWTF" respectively--imply otherwise. "OMG" is text message slang for "Oh My God," and "RUNTS" is short for "Are you nuts?"
Read the rest of Mac’s Talks Dirty at Convenience Store Decisions
League protests 'blasphemous’ TV program milk ad
By Deborah Gyapong5/17/2007
Canadian Catholic News (www.cathnews.net/)
OTTAWA, Canada (CCN)
The Catholic Civil Rights League has been successful in getting the Mac’s Milk convenience store chain to withdraw “offensive” posters for its Froster’s campaign.
“The poster features a goat and a model dressed in traditional nuns’ clothing, appearing to gaze heavenward at the drink, which is festooned with the letters: “W.T.F.” (The company’s official line is that this stands for “what’s the flavor.”)
Read the rest of this article at Canadian Catholic News
What the Huh? Mac's Convenience Stores Running Offensive Froster Ads
By John-Henry Westen
LAVAL, QC, May 9, 2007
Mac's Convenience Stores, the most popular convenience stores in Canada, with a strong presence in the United States as well, have launched what many are seeing as a highly offensive advertising campaign for their frosted carbonated drink - froster.Posters seen in Mac's store windows feature a nun kneeling with her arms raised and a sheep at her side. Above the nun, to which she looks adoringly, is a shining froster with the initials WTF below.
Read the rest of What the Huh? at LifeSiteNews.com
Looks to me like the WTF virus is spreading fast.
Co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing