The Oscars can be a strong platform for viral marketing.Last night was everyone’s favorite celebration of popular movie culture, The Academy Awards. We all know the Oscars as a platform to celebrate the achievements of motion picture over the past year. Some celebrities though have figured out how to turn that celebration of the past into a promotion of their future.

One celebrity who took full advantage of the red carpet spotlight was Sacha Baron Cohen, who showed up to the awards show dressed fully in character for his upcoming movie “The Dictator”. In a sea of celebrities, Baron Cohen found a way to make himself stand out.

At one point on the red carpet Baron Cohen even dumped a can of fake ashes out onto the tux of American Idol star Ryan Seacrest. When he did this Baron Cohen made more than a ridiculous scene: he made a viral video.

What does it mean to go “viral”?

Any video that gains widespread popularity over a short period of time is considered to be “viral”. It can be a powerful marketing technique if you can manage the creativity required to create such a buzzworthy moment.

Think of your favorite youtube videos. The ones you’ve watched several times and shared with your friends. Chances are the video you’re thinking of can be considered as viral.

Why does viral matter?

What makes viral marketing so effective is that it doesn’t require a monetary investment to get people to see it. It’s the people themselves that do the spreading and the more popular it gets the more impressions you get for your message.

For instance the video of Sacha Baron Cohen dumping ashes on the red carpet has been shared thousands of times since last night. Whether they know it or not, every single person that sees that video is now watching a small commercial for Baron Cohens new movie.

While his specific stunt might not be considered classy, it certainly was effective.

The catch with viral marketing.

The big problem with viral videos is that it’s hard to predict what content is capable of gaining mass popularity. This is especially true for a relatively small or unknown company.

So while it’s almost impossible to count on a certain piece of content going viral, the results of it doing so can be invaluable.

What are your favorite viral videos? What makes your more willing to share a video with others?

Scott Sundblom