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Viral Success Stories: How These 8 Brands Went Viral

By Growth Kolony Blog, Content Marketing, Growth Hacking, Growth Marketing Agency Toronto, Social Media, Startups No Comments

Viral Marketing Success Stories: How These 8 Brands Went Viral

By: Growth Kolony

You’ve likely heard the phrase “go viral” before and it’s something every online brand or business hopes to accomplish one day.

However, there is no simple formula to make a campaign go mega-viral all the time.

Many online brands are blindsided and believe simply adding bells and whistles to low-quality content on a trend will help them reach virality, but there’s more to it.

The truth is most viral marketing success stories are based on many years of long hard work or in exceptional cases a lucky guess on what can lure people’s attention.

And if you ask the businesses who’ve gone viral, like the ones below, oftentimes they’ll tell you that it wasn’t planned and that it felt like hitting a home run on your very first attempt.

Surely, going viral can be an incredible way to propel your brand into overnight stardom.

But we caution you from trying to build your company solely on virality because it isn’t easy for many companies and it isn’t sustainable.

Instead, we suggest brands consistently create content that is either:


  1. informational;
  2. educational;
  3. entertaining
  4. or all three at the same time if possible.

That way new fans and existing ones engage with your brand on a consistent basis and ultimately develop a relationship with you.

Then after building a decent strong loyal audience, the chances of you going viral on any given day increases.


Why Do Brands Want Virality?

If done right, viral marketing can have all sorts of benefits including increased brand awareness and credibility.

At its core, it’s an advertising strategy that’s relatively inexpensive when compared to traditional strategies and paid media.

You’ll see in this list of the most viral videos ever that viral content production can be done without a team of professional videographers and producers — DIY creators go viral all the time.

But considering we’re growth marketing professionals, in this article, we look at some of the most original viral marketing examples in business and highlight the marketing strategies used by each campaign.

Let’s get right into it!


Viral Success Story 1: Purple’s Video Marketing

Purple decided to produce a series of short videos showing how their comfort-tech mattresses are better than the mattresses created with regular memory foam.

Using video content as their medium, Purple gradually became well-known for creating videos that were informative and funny, so naturally, when these videos came out, they were a huge hit!

Their videos consistently hit the multi-million mark and the video below has over 183 million views on YouTube and all of this is because of their series of consistent witty content.

They show in about 4 minutes how the raw egg test is done by none other than, Goldilocks!

They decided to carry it out in a manner that would include the character from a fairy tale with three bears.

They featured an incredible product that was engineered from a unique material and that makes everything easier.

However, just having an excellent product was not going to do the trick, they needed to go the extra mile and create an online advertisement that went the extra mile and appealed to the digital audience.

If you’re a growth marketer online, you know “How-To” pieces perform well.


Because they’re informative and educational and sometimes entertaining.

And Purple’s viral marketing example shades all the boxes.

The viral title “How To Use A Raw Egg To Determine If Your Mattress Is Awful” instantly grabs the attention of viewers with beds, which is a large demographic.

And it wasn’t only the copywriting that stood out, they also coupled it with video content, which also performs well online.

They showed 4 eggs intact after being attached to a heavy glass panel that was then dropped onto their Purple mattress.

It was a great use of all elements and it earned them the fame it deserved.

Viral Success Story 2: Beardbrand Authority Content

This is one amazing example where good content marketing can get you the exposure you want at a low cost.

Since beards and men’s grooming became a trend over the last decade, this was just what the founders of Beardbrand needed.

They created a platform and online shop called Beardbrand, an online community where anyone can share stories and find all sorts of useful educational material on men’s grooming.

But putting their informative and educational articles aside, their presence and the interest in their site grew mostly because of their look and branding.

One of the founders was featured as a “beard expert” and from there the site took off.

They took the site even further and created more products and made an entire lifestyle around it becoming a high-authority source for beard culture and men’s grooming.

They understood the assignment and soon after it was not only beards and styling they were talking about but also hobbies for men and literature too.

With consistent content that targeted their ideal buyer personas, they positioned their site for viral success and from there created a path that moved into other relevant niche products for growth.

Consistent informational, educational and entertaining content is the key for community growth.

It is considered one of the most powerful and effective tools that attract people.

Because it lures in your target audience without forcing them to buy anything.

Free content helps you position your products or services in front of your ideal customer.

And chances are, after a while, they will turn to buy something from your site.

Viral Success Story 3: Dove Inspires Women With Experiment

If you shower and hopefully you do, you’re probably familiar with the company Dove and their products, so no introduction is necessary.

In this video, they documented a social experiment that featured women and a forensic sketch artist.

It was simple.

Each woman was told to describe themselves to Gil Zamora, an FBI trained forensic sketch artist behind a wall.

The forensic artist would then draw them as each woman described themselves.

Then a second portrait was sketched of the same woman through the eyes of another person, which showed to be more attractive then the self-described photos.

And since it was a video filled with raw emotions, it quickly turned into one of the most viewed videos of all time, creating much more fame around the products.

Since Dove is already a well-known company, they have had all of the resources and professionals they wanted to finish the project.

But even then, any brand can create this low-budget “reality-tv” piece of content.

The brilliance of the social experiment proved women wrong about what they initially thought of their looks, and that they were more attractive than how they saw themselves.

It was simplified and was created in a very light way.

And again, the targeted piece of content was informative, educational and entertaining.

Viral Success Story 4: Tommy Hilfiger Goes Outrageous

The ridiculous campaign that went out in 1985 was just the twist Tommy Hilfiger needed.

It was considered outrageous in the era where there was no viral marketing like the ones we are used to today, but, it still made the impact it was intended.

Back then, Tommy Hilfiger was an unknown struggling designer.

But when advertising genius Georg Louis suggested Tommy Hilfiger present his name on a large billboard next to some big household designer names, he was in shock.

Even though at the time he was a nobody, he still decided to do it.

The billboard was hung at Times Square in New York, with his name among the likes of Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, etc. and it worked perfectly for him!

The campaign was a success and immediately started a create buzz around the Tommy Hilfiger brand.

People wanted to get to know the brand and understand how it worked and what it offered.

The marketing strategy they decided to go with here was a word-of-mouth strategy.

The billboard created a sense of mystery around the fourth American designer.

After the brand was recognized after the campaign, Tommy Hilfiger decided to work even harder on reaching the goal of being one of the top 4 American designers.

The ad itself was a perfect place to start.

They had heads turn for their company and their products, but it would not have been as successful as it was if the products were not good themselves.

So in this case, taking a risk is always considered to be a good thing.

However, you always have to make sure you deliver once you take the step into going big or going home.

It turned out good for Tommy Hilfiger.


His brand is a recognizable fashion statement and well-known all over the world.


Viral Success Story #5: Old Spice’s Once-In-A-Lifetime Ad

When one thinks of men’s body deodorant, the first thing that comes to mind of many is Old Spice.

The reason for this is because of their incredible campaign that captured the dreamy vision that society has when it comes to men.

It is considered to be one of the most successful campaigns of all time and it earned them the reputation of being a world-famous company.

Their sales went through the roof after the campaign was released to the public and it received excellent feedback and reviews.

Their ad shows a man who claims that when he uses Old Spice, anything in the world can be made possible.

It is a single-shot video where the main character of the video is seen riding a horse, then on a sailboat, all the while his bathroom was his starting point.

Old Spice saw that the campaign was very successful, they made some more ads that similarly appealed to the public eye.

When the reviews were in, Old Spice was in too.

The campaign was big business!

Relatability is key.

If you have a product that needs to be placed in the market or want to improve an already existing product, then the focus should go on making it a more relatable product for your target audience.

The people who were behind the campaign for Old Spice did a very good job investigating the market, what is already placed out there (and how), and determining the right target group designed specifically for Old Spice.

This is what made things easier for them and created a feeling of connection between the campaign and the viewers – resulting in sky-high sales.

They did everything right.

Viral Success Story #6: Skittles Taste The Rainbow

When one thinks of a rainbow, the first thing that pops into the minds of people is not an actual rainbow but other things like rain, LGBTQ+, or rather the incredible burst of the taste and colour found in a bag of Skittles.

This campaign was not a new one, but their approach surely was.

The original slogan “taste the rainbow” was created in 1994, however, it is still being used today.

There is a catchy undertone to the entire expression and it does not take a genius to see that this is the type of campaign that will stick for a long time.

In the original ad that was released in 1994, it showed that you can make quite a few combinations from the various Skittles flavours and in each case, you would taste the rainbow in your mouth.

Even if you decided to take the Skittles one at a time, the effect would be the same as you would still taste the rainbow!

And through the years that followed, Skittles had made some variations of the original slogan that sounded like “Find the rainbow” or “Harvest the rainbow” but in the end, it all boiled down to tasting the rainbow every single time.

Since their target audience was teenagers and children, the success after releasing this campaign was imminent.

The campaign was spot-on, that it is what made it so popular and made Skittles’s sales rocket!

Viral Success Story #7: Greenpeace And Iceland Make An Impact

Throughout its history, Greenpeace has always been very well known for creating a voice of its own and standing its ground with its marketing.

Their campaigns mostly include controversial material and can be made political too.

However, the case for their campaign that we are going to dissect today went viral for neither of the reasons above.

The campaign was called “Rang-tan in my bedroom” and as soon as it was released, it went viral, and within a few days, millions of people from all over the world were watching it.

The campaign made companies sign the Greenpeace petition that pledged to use only sustainable ingredients in their products.

Such a case was the one with Iceland, the British supermarket, that signed with Greenpeace and managed to remove all products that contained unsustainably sourced palm oil.

According to the Financial Times, this move and the campaign overall helped Greenpeace make quite an impact.

It received a whopping $70 million and is considered to be one of the most successful Christmas campaigns of all time.

The success is measured not by the funds that it received, or for the ability to go viral for such as short period of time, but for the peak that was noticed in the sales of the said British supermarket.

The numbers went through the roof.

The key to this particular campaign was understanding the current issues the world is dealing with and how to connect it with buyers or your target group and make an impact all the while increasing sales.

This was the perfect opportunity for them and they seized it at the right moment.

Solving the problems and servicing the needs of customers should be a top priority for everyone involved in the business.

Viral Success Story #8: Barilla’s How To Make Al Dente Pasta

Barilla is well known around the globe for being one of the leading pasta manufacturers in the world and their products are connected to high-quality taste.

Since Barilla had been fond of traditional media, they suddenly surprised all of their loyal customers (and everybody, really) by creating a Spotify playlist for cooking different types of pasta.

The aim of this is to achieve the perfect al dente pasta while listening to great music.

To be honest, the approach was perfect.

Because when you’re cooking, you want to set the atmosphere with cooking music.

The world loves pasta, whether it is cooking it or eating it, and Barilla led their minds into a completely different setting.

Now when you’re searching for cooking music, you think of Barilla.

They created 8 different playlists for 8 different types of pasta and let the audience enjoy themselves.


The music they included was filled with joy and was the perfect excuse for anyone to come home, put it on and make their favourite pasta dish that evening or any other evening for that matter.

This is how Barilla used music content to attract new customers from a new medium.

Their incredible playlists have been played thousands of times and they have gained plenty of new followers.

Food brings friends and family closer together and music creates an environment for good times!


And of course, what better way to learn how to properly cook pasta than with some Barilla pasta, right?




And there you have it fellow growth hackers: 8 examples of viral marketing success stories.

When you create consistent content that’s informational, educational, entertaining or all three in one for a target audience, you’ll drive consistent eyeballs to your products and services and become an authoritative voice and trusted resource in your niche industry.

After building a consistent following, the chances of going viral for each campaign increase.

If you have any questions about growing your online business and attracting new customers feel free to call us at 1.888.593.4159 or chat with us in real-time on Twitter.



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11 Growth Marketing Stories From Successful Startups

By Growth Hacking, Growth Kolony Blog, Startups No Comments

11 Growth Marketing Stories From Successful Startups

By: Growth Kolony

9 out 10 startups fail.

It’s a tough pill to swallow if you’re a new startup founder but research concludes that 21.5% of startups fail in the first year, 30% in the second year, 50% in the fifth year, and 70% in their 10th year.

And really, growth hacking and marketing play a huge role in whether or not a startup fails or succeeds because a growth marketing agency (like ours) helps determine your product-market fit.

So if you’re struggling with growth, below, we highlight 11 growth marketing success stories that you can use for inspiration which may help you survive the law of 9 out of 10.

Let’s get right into it.

Growth Marketing Success Story #1: Instagram

In 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion.

During this time, it had 35 million users with no revenue. 10 months later, it grew to 100 million users and in 2018, it touched over 1 billion.

So, how did Facebook grow Instagram at such a fast rate?

The concept is very simple.

Facebook integrated its products with Instagram to cross-promote its users to use the app.

Cross-promotion is not anything new.

A lot of companies have been using cross-promotion as a growth hack to grow at an amazingly fast rate.

In today’s marketing world, there are tools like Madneto which allow you to discover potential brand partners and cross-promote with other brands.

Growth Marketing Success Story #2: Dollar Shave Club

Using videos for a marketing tactic is extremely effective but Dollar Shave Club incredibly changed how effective it can be.

The company took a boring topic and spun it into something entertaining and humourous worth sharing with friends.

The video went viral with over 20 million views and Dollar Shave Club grew to 1.1 million subscribers and eventually sold off to Unilever for a whopping $1 billion all-cash deal.

Growth Marketing Success Story #3: PayPal

PayPal’s big challenge was to get new customers.

Advertising was too expensive.

They needed organic viral growth.

So they started to give people money.

New customers got $10 for signing up and existing ones got $10 for referrals.

Growth went exponential and PayPal wound up paying $20 for each new customer.

Eventually, PayPal decided that the referral programs costs were too high but it certainly brought them a lot of customers early on, and possibly helped them cross the tipping point to growing exponentially.

growth marketing success story paypal

Growth Marketing Success Story #4: Groupon

Here’s a perfect example of applied social psychology.

By creating a sense of urgency Groupon puts users in a buy or else you’d miss out on a time-sensitive deal.

If you ever noticed an e-commerce website displaying how many items they have left in stock or how soon a deal would expire, they are creating a sense of urgency. 

In its early days, Groupon used this growth hack amazingly well but took it a step further.

Groupon needed a minimum number of people to buy the deal but they also had a limited quantity available.

Not only did it create a sense of urgency, but in order to take advantage of the deal, you had to spread the word about the deal and about Groupon.

Growth Marketing Success Story #5: The Sumo Group

Content upgrades are an increasingly popular growth hack to collect email subscribers.

Think of a 1,000-word informative blog post on a topic you’re interested in.

At the end of the post, you realize that whatever you read was just a trailer, and there was much more to it.

All users had to do was download a more detailed PDF to learn more.

A popup would appear to collect your email and a shiny new book (for free) would be sent to your inbox.

Sumo tried various content upgrades including downloadable spreadsheets, infographics, videos, cheat sheets and e-books.

Additionally, they created a 12,000-word guide to social sharing and published an e-book of the article.

They believed people were too lazy to read the entire article at once and that they’d rather download the e-book and read it later.

The e-book resulted in a whopping 21.2% conversion rate.

Growth Marketing Success Story #6: HubSpot

When HubSpot wasn’t as famous as it is today, it tried a lot of different things to acquire customers but none of them really worked.

Content marketing is great but almost everyone out there has a content marketing strategy in place. 

HubSpot’s founder built a small tool to grade websites on performance and SEO.

It was an incredible success and millions of people used the free tool to grade their websites.

It helped build an awareness of HubSpot and helped grow its email list.

The company’s founder credited the tool for its initial success and has since been revamping the tool and also launching others to acquire customers.

growth marketing success story hubspot

Growth Marketing Success Story #7: Gmail

In today’s world, the fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful growth hack and if you have a product that offers value to the masses, this tactic can be instrumental to your growth.

When Google launched its email service Gmail, it used an invite-only system to drive growth and it was a an instant hit.

It worked so well that people were running eBay auctions to sell invites.

However, use this strategy very carefully. Google has used this strategy for their Google+, Buzz, and Wave products that failed.

Also FOMO can be tricky for closed communities.

For example, using Gmail doesn’t require the email recipient or sender to also use the Gmail service.

But that’s not the case for Google+.

With closed communities, it’s best to ensure that you choose a small but connected community to send exclusive invites.

Facebook did this in its early days by sending exclusive invites to Harvard students.

Growth Marketing Success Story #8: Dropbox

We’ve all seen call-to-action prompts like “Like us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Twitter”.

Some brands go as far as running contests or announcing special rewards, like a free T-shirt, to incentivize users to spread the word on social media for overall growth.

Dropbox decided to go in a different direction.

With each follow or linking of social accounts, Dropbox would give 125 MB of storage space.

This growth hack was incredibly powerful.

Not only do users spread the word but they also were given more reasons to keep using the product.

Today, Dropbox has over 3.8 million Twitter followers and most of their growth success goes to this powerful growth hack.

Growth Marketing Success Story #10: Netflix

Back when Netflix was into DVD rentals, it struck partnerships with DVD player manufacturers like Panasonic, Philips, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, and others to include a Netflix coupon inside the DVD player box sold to customers. 

This solved a critical problem faced by DVD manufacturers.

Customers didn’t want to buy DVD players since they found it difficult to buy DVDs, which were at the time weren’t widely available in stores.

By including a Netflix coupon in the box, the DVD manufacturers could showcase a library of more than one thousand titles to customers.

At the same time, Netflix benefited because they could easily target customers who owned a DVD player. Within a year, Netflix’s subscriber base doubled to 500,000 customers.

Growth Marketing Success Story #10: Hotmail

Freemium is a popular way to onboard customers today, especially for SaaS products.

Get your target audience to use your products and once their usage goes beyond a certain limit, or they need extra features, start charging them.

Super easy and efficient. 

But going freemium isn’t a growth hack.

Sure, it helps you, onboard customers, faster since they don’t need to pay, but it doesn’t get customers to your website in the first place.

But if you couple the freemium model with advertisements, it can really blossom into a great growth hack that’ll help spread the word.

Hotmail used this model to spread the word. Every email sent by Hotmail had a “Get your free email at” signature at the end.

That one line made the sender an advertisement to the recipient.

And the word spread fast.

Heck, an iPhone isn’t even free but Apple adopted the same strategy for an email with a “Sent from my iPhone” signature in the end.

However, tread easily if you’re planning to use this for your paid product.

Customers may not welcome it as much as they do Apple unless you’re a premium brand.

Growth Marketing Success Story #11: Airbnb

In its early days, Airbnb used an extremely bizarre way to grow.

They provided a feature on Airbnb to simultaneously post on their biggest competitor Craigslist. 

If you think about it, it was a genius growth hack at the time for Airbnb.

Craigslist had a massive customer base and Airbnb was new.

So, they gave their users the chance to post on Craigslist at the same time, and in fact, encouraged them to do so.

The Craigslist users that viewed the property were allowed to contact the owners only if they joined Airbnb.

They also noticed that Airbnb listings were far more superior than the other – nicer photographs, better descriptions, and more personal.

The rest is pretty much history.

Many claims that this single hack was responsible for Airbnb’s success.

Today, Airbnb has raised more than $4 billion and a valuation in excess of $30 billion.

If you have any questions about growth marketing and growing your online business feel free to call us at 1.888.593.4159 or chat with us in real-time on Twitter.