This is a post related to “Viral Marketing”, the topic for week 5 of the “Digital Marketing” course that I’m currently undertaking at RMIT.
I created this Spotify Playlist while writing this article, feel free to give it a go while you read the following lines:)
Imagine that you are a marketer and you are required to implement a potentially successful viral marketing action on Facebook: I’m pretty sure that one of the last things that you’d be aiming to would be to get your campaign deleted from the social media platform. Today I’d like to share with you how the German creative agency DDB Berlin turned that idea upside down by deliberately designing a campaign that was meant to be censored by Facebook.
The action was created for Pink Ribbon Germany, a charity organisation whose primary objective is to raise awareness on breast cancer. On the International Women’s Day back in 2016, they posted a set of pictures on Facebook and Instagram which featured several women showing a naked breast along with a link to the landing page of the campaign: they wanted to encourage women to check their breasts regularly. Being also aware of Facebook’s censorship rules regarding the display of nipples, they wittingly used the caption “check it before it’s removed”, which encouraged people to post and share the images as much as possible before the platforms started removing them.
The content moderators of the tech giant did start removing the pictures from Pink Ribbon Germany’s campaign. However, as that was taking place, mainstream media began to write about the action, and many people criticised Facebook for censoring it. The buzz that was generated converted it into a widely shared campaign and Facebook eventually stopped deleting the pictures. The following video sums it all up very well:
As it is shown in the previous video, the campaign turned out to be a massive success, but perhaps the same idea applied on a different context could have been a complete failure. Therefore, which are the factors that contributed to make it successful?
Taking into account Jonah Berger’s “six steps to virality” theoretical framework we’ve seen in class, it’s pretty amazing to discover that the campaign follows most of the principles from the STEPPS model:
- Social Currency – as sharing the post would show to your network that you care about the issue.
- Triggers – as it was published on the International Women’s Day.
- Emotion – as cancer is a topic that many people feel emotionally attached to.
- Practical Value – as the posts redirected to a landing page that provided information on how women could check their breasts properly.
- Stories – as the fact that Facebook would remove their posts was a potentially shareable story.
In my opinion, this campaign is not only a great example of an innovative idea –which also fits in the mentioned theoretical framework– that lead to a successful viral campaign, but also the proof that we, as social media users, can have a huge impact on the decisions that social networks take –as Facebook stopped removing the pictures due to people’s pressure–. As I mentioned in this previous post: “it’s our responsibility to call out on the companies behind these tools [social media platforms] every time there’s something we think that might have an undesired impact in our lives”.
What do you think about this campaign? Do you think it was a smart move to go against Facebook’s censorship rules or you consider it was too risky? As marketers, would you dare to launch a similar action? Please, do not hesitate to comment below, it’s free!
~ by Elies Delgado Tamarit