Qatar Airways scores a viral hit

Colm is the editor of MarketingTech, with a mission to bring the most important developments in technology to both businesses and consumers.

Qatar Airways has managed to go viral with its latest social media campaign, which has been viewed by a massive 54 million people.

As usual with this kind of campaigns, it is unlikely to be just the advertising message that has contributed to the widespread visibility of the campaign. The secret to viral success remains hard to pin down.

The ‘No Borders, Only Horizons’ video has so far been watched 50 million times on the company’s Facebook page, 800,000 times on Twitter, three million times on Instagram and over one million time on YouTube.

The campaign has also made headlines in more traditional media outlets like Bloomberg and CNN.

So what factors lie behind the success of the campaign?

Politics and exclusion

Marketing materials rarely achieve the kind of viral success that such mainstays as ‘dramatic hamster’ and ‘evolution of dance’, despite many campaigns attempting to emulate the ‘viral style’.

The reason behind this seems to be fairly self-explanatory. In a world where consumers are constantly being presented adverts and promotional materials, it is often the videos that show authenticity that go super nova.

So, what is the element that promotes the Qatar Airways campaign from the promotional to the viral?

The video features a combination of politics and a message of global inclusion.

In a press release, the airline states:

“The campaign highlights the common ground Qatar Airways shares with thousands of its supporters from all parts of the world, which affirms the belief that the sky has no limits. The ‘No Borders, Only Horizons’ campaign promotes the airline’s core philosophy: that the world is a better place when we explore it together.”

So far, so mundane. The message takes on an entirely different, far less blue-sky thinking, note when recent events are considered.

The state of Qatar has been under blockade since 5 June, and the international airline is facing a potential curtailment of its activities as a result.

Senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications, Ms, Salam Al Shawa highlights the unique blend of politics and inclusive messaging:

“Our brand message is ‘Going Places Together.’ We are together with our passengers in everything. To be forcibly separated from them is a violation of our fundamental purpose, which is to bring people together.”

It is clearly a message that has interested a lot of people around the world. What does this teach marketers about the unpredictable nature of viral success? Nothing new really, but this campaign is a particularly interesting example of messaging that gets people engaging. 

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