Viral marketing is a chancy game. The best made plans have blown up on companies like Wal-Mart and
TBS . When the public discovers what seems real is just a marketing ploy, it’s not just ineffective, it’s damaging to the brand.
BMW rolled the dice with a mocumentary film about a Bavarian town attempting to launch a car off a ramp and have it land in the the United States. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) Even though its corporate roots became known, the film was still a success. It has been copied and distributed widely> Merchandise for the fictitious ramp jump is even being sold online.
So, why did BMW succeed where others didn’t? Wal-Mart posed as RV’ers crossing the country; it was fake and drew RV’ers in one dimension. TBS stunted timers all over Boston only to have them mistaken as terrorist devices. BMW, in comparison, made good-hearted fun WITH the Bavarian lifestyle and sought to promote something as innately Bavarian as beer.
Viral works when it affirms something the viewer can easily believe and embrace. Authenticity again is the draws the line in viral marketing between success and powder burns.
Continue reading to see an excerpt of the film.