The evolution of viral advertising

In the age of experience-based marketing, some brands want us to do more than just buy their products. They want us to interact with them, to love them. Dan Wieden, legendary adman, described this desire for active participation when he said: “Brands are verbs. Nike exhorts. IBM solves. Sony dreams.” But there are few verbs more active and inspiring than “love.”

In a recent survey by APCO Worldwide, analysts worked out how that love is expressed. They measured eight ways we interact with brands: understanding, approachability, relevance, admiration, curiosity, identification, empowerment, and pride. It’s hard to imagine a brand conveying all these things at once, though the world’s most beloved brand—Walt Disney—probably comes close for a lot of people.

While the same survey reveals that a third of the top 20 most-loved brands were born after the Internet came along, there are also plenty of brands like Heinz and Campbell’s Soup that started the love fest in the 19th century.

Below is a look back at some of the iconic moments in brand love that paved the way for our current landscape of always-on, high engagement Digital Marketing.