Digital Odyssey Blog. Digital Marketing and Webdesign Agency in Africa and Europe

Successful Viral Marketing Campaigns Out Of Africa


A digital presence is a necessity in 2019, especially for businesses. It spells relevance, connectivity, and tactical points of engagement. However, it comes with its own set of complications. One of them is hyper-awareness. Social media is literally social. With everyone having a public voice. Anyone can interact with your business, publicly, at any time, with a positive, negative, or neutral voice.


We can’t help but see every complication as an opportunity and a solution. Given the service or product you provide, one such opportunity is a viral marketing campaign. But the word “virus” doesn’t hold the same negative connotation within marketing as it does in an everyday scenario. Very similar to viruses, they depict rapid multiplication to explode your message to thousands, if not millions. It can be broken down further to “word-of-mouth,” “creating a buzz,” “network marketing,” or basic public relations (PR) and leveraging traditional and digital media. It has the power to come across as authentic and less constructed. An excellent example is Hotmail. It encourages free email sign-ups, and every email sent from that account says, “Get your private, free email at” Every time a friend or associate sees the message, they’re enticed to sign up for a free email service. Consequently, the message is propelled to a wider and ever-increasing circle of acquaintances.


Today, we look at three campaigns that had an impact on the African continent.


1. #WooliesWaterChallenge by Woolworths in South Africa


This video went viral in South Africa, with thousands of retweets and likes, and the creation of the #WooliesWaterChallenge.


Woolworths saw the opportunity that this presented, and they took it – they posted a tweet which referenced the #WooliesWaterChallenge, as well as another popular Twitter trend: the “summoning circle” meme. The summoning circle meme sees users create a circle out of emojis, around a line of text specifying something that they are hoping for, or ‘summoning’.


The text inside of the emoji circle, ‘exquisite, photosynthesis, amalgamate’, references the original video. By using a popular Twitter trend, Woolworths made sure that it was participating appropriately and using social media in the same way that its customers do – by participating in Twitter ‘culture’.


But Woolworths didn’t stop there: they directly, and publicly contacted the creators of the video in order to propose a collaboration, which indicated that they had a good attitude and approach, and were willing to give the creators of the video due credit. Woolworths made sure that they made the most of the opportunity presented to them.


2. One’s How well do you know Africa


In 2017, One released a report which identified the ten countries in the world in which women are most likely to be denied an education. Nine of those ten countries were in Africa. One developed a quiz that had participants choose the country highlighted on the map out of three given options. The nine countries included in the quiz were the 9 from the report. The campaign was part fun, part educational, and it encouraged participants to sign their name and share the campaign on social media.


One may have developed the campaign and the quiz, but it went viral on its own – the combination of a fun quiz and a meaningful movement proved to be a winning combination, and people were quick to share it far and wide. Within six days, more than 1.5 million people had completed the quiz. A quick Twitter search for the phrase “How well do you know your African geography?” showed at a glance how others had fared compared to your answers. Some users refused to share their scores, while others boasted about how well they did, and almost all encouraged others to take the quiz.


One got the formula right, but it’s not the only way to go global.


3. Castle Light’s #HoldMyBeer


Castle Light’s take on a viral campaign came about a little differently – unlike One’s campaign, which was a planned strategy which then took off exponentially; and Woolies, which made the most out of some free publicity courtesy of a few Twitter users, Castle Light took a potentially negative situation and used it as an opportunity to take responsibility.


The whole thing started when South African radio personality Dineo Ranaka posted a photo of a Castle Light on Twitter with the caption “After such a long day making magic, a cold beer is all that’s needed to unwind. #HoldMyBeer”. The tweet was met with some serious backlash, as men retweeted with comments on how drinking beer wasn’t very lady-like. Dineo used this as an opportunity to discuss the kind of everyday sexism that is still prevalent in our society, and the #HoldMyBeer conversation took off.


A few months later, Castle Light addressed the issue directly, using the #HoldMyBeer hashtag. Castle posted a video which acknowledged their role in shaping the sexist culture around beer drinking, using clips from their own adverts to make the point. This video was posted on International Women’s Day, and was all the more powerful for it – that, combined with the buzz generated by the #HoldMyBeer hashtag, made for a successful piece of viral marketing which made the most of a bad situation.


There’s more than one way to go viral


Viral marketing is a great way to get your message out to a large audience in a short amount of time, and the interactive element of consumers sharing that message themselves means that they end up feeling more connected to, and involved with, the brand. It is a fun, effective way to reach your audience. As we’ve seen from the examples above, there’s more than one way to go viral. Sometimes, like with Woolworths, a great opportunity will fall into your lap. One developed a campaign that had all of the right elements to go viral, and it paid off. Castle Light took a situation which started off negative and which had the potential to stay that way, but they took the opportunity and turned it around.


In the end, a good marketing strategy should include flexibility, and the opportunity to react well to any new developments thrown at it. The Digital Odyssey team is here to answer any questions you might have regarding viral marketing.


Contact Us to Learn How



Digital Odyssey
No Comments

Post a Comment