My First Viral Marketing Campaign

I never knew I wanted to be in marketing.

But sometimes I look back and realize that I may have been made for this all along.

The first time I ever experienced virality was in High School in 2011.

I'll set the stage a little for you.

I was 17 years old.

I was a relatively well-known kid in my school of 4,000+ kids.

But don't read that as popular.

I decided at the end of my Junior year that I was going to run for Senior Class President.

I didn't have any prior experience in student government.

I didn't have any resources to make a campaign.

I didn't have any idea what a campaign even was.

I had to be scrappy.

I thought about the following questions:

  • What do people expect from me?
  • How can I stand out from the other candidates?
  • How can I make this campaign weird like me?

So here's what I did.

I based my campaign around issues that had nothing to do with school life.

The other kids were talking about making dances better, improving clubs, and adding cool new things to the school.

Not me.

I went the complete opposite direction.

I based my campaign around fighting childhood obesity.

And I used my own baby photo to do it.


I also decided not to put my ads where everyone else was (in the commons).

I put them in obscure hallways.

I put them on pillars.

I hung them in classrooms.

When the other candidates were making humongous posters, I only allowed myself regular old pieces of paper to put my ads on.

I also created T-Shirts with this design and gave them away for free.

Soon enough, I had advocates all over the school.

People were talking about my crazy campaign.

And then, voting day arrived.

I was nervous, but all I could do was wait.

Later that night, the results were posted.

98% of all students who voted had cast 1 of their allowed 3 votes for Blake Emal.

I won in a landslide.

There are lessons in this story that I look back on still to this day.

If this story resonated with you, feel free to donate to stop childhood obesity in its tracks.