Our objective was to launch a nose cleansing set of the nasal spray brand Aqua Maris in Russia. We decided to create a new sport – Competitive Nose Cleansing, sponsored by Aqua Maris. First, we established the International Federation of Jala Neti in Lausanne (Jala Neti is a yoga name for nose cleansing). Then, we organized the World Championship Jala Neti in Amsterdam and put live coverage of the 5 litre Men’s Final on YouTube. Our campaign generated over 1.000.000 views, and the site of Aqua Maris received 46% more visitors. Watch the campaign video and read the full story below.
Our aim was to create a viral effect and reach hundreds of thousands of people. To increase credibility of our story, we established the International Federation of Jala Neti (IFJN) in Lausanne and filled its website with articles about re-election of the Executive Committee, the Jala Neti Athlete of the Year contest, signing the World Anti-Doping Code etc. Then, we created a fan-club of Fedor Konyukhov, the reigning world champion in the 5 litre class from Russia. The site included a Q&A session with Fedor and his nose cleansing tips. And finally, Aqua Maris became the main official sponsor of IFJN.
In order to launch the campaign, we sent an official press release by IFJN to Russian news agencies – “Fedor Konyukhov has become the world champion Jala Neti for the 3rd time”. The press release was published by Russian regional news sites (Fedor is from Novosibirsk, Siberia) and by sites about sports and yoga. After Google and Yandex had indexed these articles, we sent a video to the leading Russian entertainment portals, such as Fishki.net, Yaplakal.com, Webpark.ru etc.
The viral was made as a tribute by a Russian fan to the King of Jala Neti Fedor Konyukhov. The video got about 400.000 views from Russia in its 1st month. Then, it was discovered by international media, such as Sports Illustrated and The Huffington Post, and the view count of the Russian and the international versions of the viral went to 1.000.000. The viral got to the Top 10 Most Viewed This Month in the Sports category in Russia, and to the Top 100 Sports Globally. The website of Aqua Maris received 46% more visitors during the campaign, the unaided brand awareness of Aqua Maris grew from 27% to 36% (source: Synovate Comcon).
We were very excited whether viewers would discover the connection between the World Championship Nose Cleansing and the Aqua Maris products. Fortunately they did. Their first reaction was quite predictable and could be summarised as WTF:-) Some viewers found additional information on Google and Yandex and believed that the event was real. We received invitations for radio and TV interviews with Jala Neti athletes via the site of IFJN, and even an official request to establish the Jala Neti Federation in India. Other viewers discovered that it was a viral ad and connected it to Aqua Maris.
These are examples of online comments in Russian and international media:
- “Help us readers. We don’t know what is real and what is lies any more. Witness this ‘sporting event’, sponsored by Aqua Maris, a nasal spray manufacturer” (BitterWallet),
- “There’s nothing quite as exciting as watching men in singlets squirt saline solution through their sinuses” (The Huffington Post),
- “Now, I have no idea whether this is a real ‘sport’ or some meticulously orchestrated joke by those rascally Ruskies whose sole purpose is to fool gullible Americans. But whatever the heck is going on in the video, it is a sight to behold” (Sportress of Blogitude),
- “Probably the weirdest sport on earth. Please tell me this is Russian viral advertising at work, and not actually a real thing?” // “Don’t be so quick to turn your nose up at this. Looks legit” (BuzzFeed),
- “A competitive event that includes both a pool and a pot? Has Michael Phelps been notified?” (Break.com),
- “I knew what a neti pot was & what it’s for, but I never in a hundred years would have thought I’d ever see something like this. LOL!!!” (YouTube),
- “I was planning to send my son to an ice hockey school, but have to reconsider this decision” (Fishki),
- “Your move, Japan!” (YouTube).
And Japan has made the move. Our viral was aired by two Japanese TV stations – TV Asahi and NTV. Frankly speaking, we enjoy the Japanese version even more than the original.
The campaign strategy was developed by Novocortex, the viral was produced by Wefilm, the video was seeded by Novocortex & Red Graphic. The Aqua Maris viral was awarded:
1) on the digital festival SpinAwards in Amsterdam, where the World Championship Nose Cleansing took place,
2) on the Russian ad festival IDEA in Novosibirsk, where the Jala Neti legend Fedor Konyukhov was born,
3) and, of course, on the Asian festival Ad Stars in Korea, where people love weird sports and videos.
Read about other viral campaigns created by Novocortex – the mobile marketing campaign Endless Racing and the guerrilla marketing campaign Scratches on Your Car.