A lesson in viral marketing from the French: Peugeot’s The Legend

The social media marketing world is full of people ready to tear down other marketing campaigns, tell them what they’re doing wrong, and generally act like a downer. Not today! This article will be highlighting the best of French automaker Peugeot’s “The Legend” viral video.

Analysis of their video strategy, their hashtag strategy, and how their website ties in will be discussed. Follow this positive roadmap when you starting planning your own viral video and online marketing campaign and you might one day reach the 13,000,000+ views that “The Legend” has received over the eight weeks it has been online.

A Lesson in Viral Marketing from the French- Peugeot's The Legend  pic 1

What is Peugeot’s “The Legend” viral video?

Peugeot’s “The Legend” builds on a 30 year old commercial for one of their original hot hatchbacks, the Peugeot 205. They literally start the video with footage from that commercial, and it is 1980s cheesey fantastic. The video then goes awesome with the 80s screen ratio expanding to today’s widescreen, and the new 208GTi comes screaming out:

Did you have fun watching that, or are you dead from the hairline down? Before you think about hashtags, linking to your website, creating a buzz, or any of that other marketing jargon first think about the feeling you got from watching this video just now. Now Peugeot didn’t just make a rock star of a video and leave it at that. They were sure to feature their brand prominently – the car is a big a star as the people. It’s marketing by product participation in a story, and it’s been happening since Michael Jordan first put on Nikes, dunked a ball, and said it wasn’t about the shoes.

How Peugeot made “The Legend” legendary

Viral marketing doesn’t just happen by accident. Peugeot’s success here wasn’t an accident as they built virality into this ad.
Once they had a great story, the first thing they did was give their viewers a reason to watch the ad again. A little bit of mystery can go a long way getting people to click the replay button:

A Lesson in Viral Marketing from the French- Peugeot's The Legend  pic 2

I, of course, had to watch it again and find that wolf! Where was it hiding, and what was he hiding behind that click?!? Here’s the wolf:

The wolf is a clickable link that takes you to Peugeot’s official tumblr. This is where you can watch “Making of” features, learn more about the car, and find links to all of their social media profiles. The page is always growing, so coming back pays off.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, the button which says “Discover more about 208” links directly to the part of their website which deals exclusively with the 208 GTi. It has all of the standard things that you would expect from a car manufacturer’s website – prices for all models, options available, lists of features, etc.

The tumblr and their website together let you learn everything about the 208 GTI. All of this is built right into the video as it was all planned to happen just like this from the beginning.

Peugeot’s social media plan gave their virality one last push

Peugeot have an extensive social profile collection. They took full use of them by creating a hashtag that you see in the first screengrab in the lower right hand corner, as well as in the video description. You can see that #Peugeot208GTi30th and #GTiLegend generated a lot of buzz on Twitter. One of my favorite tweets was this one from the Spanish Peugeot account:

This type of planning is going to build the social proof Devumi promotes as people will see that you really do plan to include them via social media. You’re not just pushing a video out to promote your product, you’re actively trying to build connections with your fans and followers. You know how Pinterest has this perception of being a ladies only social platform? Check out all the guys digging #Peugeot208GTi30th on Pinterest, showing you that if you have the resources, you can’t neglect any platform.

A Lesson in Viral Marketing from the French- Peugeot's The Legend  pic 3

Over on Facebook you can see how they built anticipation in advance by releasing a teaser trailer. Yes, even commercials have them now, but 12,777 views for a small chunk of something much bigger…worth it:

Hashtags are not big on Facebook, and the shrinking organic reach is also evident here. They made up for this with lots of sneak peeks, and a cover photo featuring the ad.

Everything you can learn from Peugeot’s “The Legend” video

Peugeot have created a nearly perfect viral ad campaign. It’s about more than the 13,000,000 views they got, it’s about how they:

● Created a very enjoyable piece of content that is easy to share, while still being on brand message.
● Inserted an incentive to watch it again, further driving home the brand message to all those who watched twice.
● Drove people to their website to keep them immersed in the brand story once the video was over.
● Created a special website on tumblr for those interested in the behind the scenes activity.
● Used hashtags on social media, and included them in both the video itself, and the video description.

If you’re not doing this for any ad campaign you hope to see going viral, you will only reach viral success if you’re lucky, or have really exceptional content. My only issue with “The Legend” was that there still isn’t enough of it for me. That is a sign of excellent storytelling via marketing.

I watched the video multiple times, saw the behind the scenes, played around on Twitter, and designed my dream 208 GTi on their webpage. All I have to say, in my poor French is: Peugeot , se il vous plaît nous donner plus de La Légende!
I’m picturing a web series, James Bond style in two-minute increments for the YouTube generation. Only this time, don’t take thirty years between installments:

If you can translate German, help out in the comment section below! Please share your other comments about The Legend video below as well. I’d love to respond to them.

Author bio: Matthew is the writer and social media critic over on the Devumi Social Media website’s blog. He is there every Friday talking about the latest in the world of social media marketing, or you can learn more about Devumi in this review website. If you need your updates a little bit more frequently, go bananas with the @Devumi Gorilla on Twitter. No, literally go with bananas to get on his good side!

A Lesson in Viral Marketing from the French- Peugeot's The Legend main pic