An analysis of two campaigns that went viral in Nigeria.



At my first real job, there was always a standard thing. Every time we convened to discuss campaigns ideas towards cracking a client’s brief; our ideas always needed to be towards virality. Nothing less.

The idea behind this (outside bragging rights, of course), is the same idea behind viral marketing; having people spread your message for you will have much more impact than when you have to share it yourself. 

Now, the million dollar question is; with the exceptionally high amount of content uploaded and shared on the internet every day, what are the chances of creating a campaign with such compelling content that can literally stop people in their tracks and cause them to do something?

While a number of people who would say that a lot viral content are random occurrences. Saying it’s probably out of baby luck, and they would be right. There’s also an undeniable element of strategic planning and implementation that you can see in many viral campaigns, that brings the realization that there’s a lot more going on than luck. These are 2 campaign proofs:

I Don Port

 The amount of views on this video does no justice to how viral this campaign went at the time. This was a 2013 campaign MTN ran when the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) approved the mobile number portability.

The first underlying element to this campaign was the pro activeness that came with it. NCC launched the portability service on the 22nd of April, 2013 and that morning, we were served with this awesomeness from MTN. Next, was the beautiful element of surprise in it – seeing Saka (the guy with the funny leg dance), on an MTN ad. Little back story here; Saka  was on Etisalat’s campaigns prior to this ad. Then there was all the tiny elements; like his dress changing from green to yellow, the music, the humorous dance and the overall look and feel of the ad.

The virality of this campaign had cut across many sects; there were the advertising junkies who saw it as the best of brand wars we’d had in this market in ages. Then we had the music junkies who couldn’t stop the jingle from playing in their heads. And finally we had the wacky ones (my sect!) who tried hard to get the Saka dance. (Oh! We had the haters too, but they don’t count K).

All of these sects, went online and talked endlessly about this ad. And every talk on the new portability service was hinged on it.


I said I would blog about this campaign here , so yay, here we are! #Ikeepmyword! 😉

We know the Share A Coke initiative was a multinational campaign, so we cannot tie any rights to it being “Nigerian”. However, because it was just as successful in this market (trust me, it could have flopped), we shall assume – for the benefit of this post – that it was straight outta compton here.

Coca Cola basically replaced its iconic logo with all the popular Nigerian names on all its packaging. Giving consumers an opportunity to connect to the brand. They started by sending customized bottles packed in pretty boxes to as many celebrities as possible, and of course these ones took it to social to begin the #ShareACoke hashtag in Nigeria. This built anticipation in everyone before the customized bottles and cans eventually hit the stores (market).


When the customized bottles/cans hit the stores, we saw a seamless fusion of online and offline. The bottles were strategically placed in stores, it was literally the first thing you saw when you walked in. Then, we saw people excitedly take pictures and share it across platforms using the hashtag.

The Takeaways

There were too many viral touch points in this campaign. First, the backbone of the campaign. the emotional connection stemmed from finding you name on the bottles/cans; everyone was talking about that! Everyone was helping everyone else they knew to find their names. Everyone wanted everyone to know they had found their names. It was some sorta social chatter that no one got tired of. People even started sharing well crafted stories on the journey it took to finding their names or how long they intended to keep theirs. (I was one of the latter and I still have my can even though the coke in it is expired 😀 )

img_14092016_123042Next was the fact that this backbone nestled nicely on the impact User Generated Content (UGC) can have on any brand. Everyone knew the hashtag, everyone wanted to jump on it. Plus, Coca Cola went a step forward and gave people who could not find their names an opportunity to still have something to share online by sharing a link to a customized can generator where people could create virtual customized cans with their names and share online.

Finally, they pulled everyone in! They went to every neighborhood and made instant cans with desired names for everyone who walked up to their stand.

This campaign literally exploded.

According to Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On; “There is a science behind why people share. It’s not chance, and it’s not random, if you understand the underlying science of human behavior, you can predict what people are going to pass on, and you can craft your own contagious content–whether it’s messages, products or ideas–that people are more likely to spread.”

Know any other campaigns that went viral in Nigeria? Drop me a comment in the comment box below