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Viral ads have ripple effect

Marketing is all about getting noticed and Hi-Tec’s latest campaign has certainly caused a splash.

Sports brand Hi-Tec kicked off a viral marketing campaign a few weeks ago with an anonymously posted clip on YouTube.

The video, called Walk on Water (Liquid Mountaineering), came with the following description: “Liquid mountaineering is a new sport which is attempting to achieve what man has tried to do for centuries: walk on water. Or to be more precise: running on water. We are developing the sport from scratch. By accident we found out that with the right water-repellent equipment you can run across bodies of water, just like a stone skimming the surface.”

The “right water-repellent equipment” is in fact the latest Hi-Tec footwear, which is subtly shown in the video clip. Clever video editing makes the ‘sportsmen’ look like they really are running on water. This brought an instant reaction from viewers, who speculated whether it was possible or a fake.

Hi-Tec let the speculation build over two weeks before announcing that the clip was “a well-intended hoax”. By this stage it had been viewed more than 4 million times on YouTube.

The clip now also has an added description stating: “We would like to thank the people at Hi-Tec for their support” and includes the link www.hi-tec.com/liquid-mountaineering, which takes users directly to the brand’s transactional website.

Hi-Tec has shown just how successful a viral marketing campaign can be when done well. The aim for Hi-Tec was to create something different that gave the brand global exposure, and this campaign has done just that.

The use of YouTube introduced the brand to a completely new global audience and by using a video that caused such a reaction, the brand engaged a number of potential new customers.

The clip was in keeping with the brand’s ethos, using ‘special’ footwear as the topic of the clip without making it look like an obvious sales tool for the new Hi-Tec collection.

While this campaign was not a sales initiative for Hi-Tec, it has no doubt created great brand awareness. This can only result in more customers and therefore more sales.

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