Important lessons from B2B viral campaigns done right

min read

It’s not only possible for a B2B ad campaign to go viral, but successful campaigns share recognizable elements. We take a look at two we hold in high esteem.

Important Lessons from B2B Viral Campaigns Done Right

B2B ad campaigns are often run as an afterthought, because a lot of companies think that they can’t be as effective as B2C campaigns. This idea is wrong, but it’s enduring. Even after numerous viral B2B campaign successes, many ask if it’s even possible for this to happen. For B2B companies looking for exposure, there’s good news: it’s possible to get people excited about your B2B firm.

It’s not only possible for a B2B ad campaign to go viral, but successful campaigns share recognizable elements. This means that there’s a clear science to it, which you can follow. Even if your firm isn’t a global company with enormous resources, you can get your hands on the basic strategies for free, simply by observing successfully viral B2B campaigns. Take a look at two we hold in high esteem:

#1 Volvo: Jean Claude Van Damme “Split” Ad

Despite what many might think, a B2B marketing campaign has the potential to not only go viral, but also to become the kind of pop culture phenomenon that has A-list stars like Channing Tatum performing parodies.

This B2B ad for Volvo’s Dynamic Steering System is already one of the most-viewed ads of all time. There’s a good chance you’ve watched it yourself, since it has over 75 million views on YouTube. According to a press statement from Volvo, “‘The Epic Split’ proves that an unconventional take on B2B marketing works. The commercial…is already the most watched automotive commercial on Youtube ever.”

According to PR Director for Volvo trucks Per Nilsson, Volvo’s innovation was marrying the creative brilliance and technical skill of a successful B2C marketing campaign to a B2B product. The physical feat is remarkable enough to impress viewers and compel them to share. Plus, it was a masterstroke to build the campaign around Jean Claude Van Damme, an actor who has name recognition, the physical skill to pull off an amazing stunt, and a track record of playing with his public persona through films like JCVD and ads for Coors Light.

Of course, while viewers are marveling at and sharing Volvo’s ads, the other stars of the ad are Volvo’s trucks, unmistakably a B2B product. Had Volvo’s creative team wanted to appeal to customers directly, they could have chosen a more affordable consumer vehicle. They chose their trucks, however, and crafted a hybrid campaign.

To viewers, the enormous freight-hauling semi-trailers seem to literally hold Van Damme’s life in the balance, silently illustrating more than a million words of copy ever could. Their precision breathes confidence, even to those of use who aren’t freight drivers, boosting the brand’s reputation all-around.

Lesson: Just like B2C campaigns, B2B campaigns need to appeal to people first and foremost.

#2 General Electric (GE): “Brilliant Machines” Ads

As important as Big Data is, it can be a little dry. GE didn’t let this obstacle stand in the way of promoting its latest hardware and software with its “Brilliant Machines” campaign, and their secret it our second most important lesson.

Despite the fact that GE was promoting equipment and software with primarily medical applications, it created an ad campaign that was fun and widely popular. GE has a good track record with its B2B marketing—we’ve highlighted their work before—and they did similarly well with this campaign.

Not only did GE get cast members from the Star Trek franchise to reprise their roles for the campaign, but they resurrected “Agent Smith” from the Matrix films. The character is one of the most popular villains in cinema, and he hadn’t been seen onscreen in over a decade when GE brought him back for their B2B “Brilliant Machines” campaign.

By connecting their campaign to popular characters from science fiction movies, GE made their software and hardware seem fun and futuristic. They also gave genre fans something to talk about. The campaign both created a positive aura around their product and plugged it in to an already existing, tech-savvy fanbase.

Lesson: Connect your B2B campaign to something people are passionate about.

Your firm probably isn’t as big as GE or Volvo, but you’ll find that you have the tools to make a B2B campaign compelling and shareable at your fingertips. Of course, having an ad go viral is a dream for anyone, but your company shouldn’t build up expectations. Focus on a great campaign that includes elements that work, and let the online audience share it of their own accord, if they so choose. Just incorporate these two lessons from GE and Volvo, and you will have the ingredients for a successful campaign.

What are your favorite successful B2B campaigns? Let us know via social.