Monday, March 10, 2008


While talking about viral marketing examples, we should remember that viral marketing started much before the Internet era.
Let us see the examples about brands or trademarks.
As you know, 'Jeep' is a registered trademark of Chrysler. Not all 4x4 or off-road vehicles are to be called 'Jeep'. Still, as a matter of fact, you hear the word 'Jeep' in the meaning 'off-road vehicle', even if it is made in Japan or Korea. I heard it in Russia, Belarus & Israel.
Then, do you know that in Russia 'Pampers' means a disposable diaper? Not only diapers marketed by Procter & Gamble but all kinds of diapers.
More examples:
'Xerox' means 'copier' (= copying machine) of each kind and not only a copier of Xerox per se.
Tampax means a tampon, in spite of its being a brand of Procter & Gamble.
Thanks to Alexandr Blokhin for the above examples (in Russian).
A flush toilet (= Water Closet) is called in Russia 'Unitas', because of the Spanish company 'Unitas" in the beginning of 20th century.
Do you think those examples characterize Russia only? No, there are examples everywhere. In UK the popular word for a flush toilet is 'crapper'. Why? Thomas Crapper's company built such toilets in 1880s. After the company received a royal warrant, Crapper's name became synonymous with flush toilets.
In Israel 'pelephone' means a cellphone, because the Israeli-based telecommunications company "Pelephone" was the first to offer mobile phone services in the beginning of 1990s. Then the brand-name "Pelephone" became the ubiquitous term for mobile phones in Israel.
Some more examples from Israel: 'vespa' means a motorscooter, 'venta' means a fan, 'fluke' means an electrician's multimeter.
Now there is a fresh example about Google: some people say they "googled" something as a synonym for searching.
There is a special term for these cases: 'Genericized trademark', or 'generic trade mark', or 'proprietary eponym'.
Some classic examples are, as well: Scotch Tape, Jacuzzi (whirlpool bathtubs), Sellotape, Aspirin.

Be the first on the market and make your brand a generic trade mark.


  1. Jacob,
    I understand those examples about identification of brand and product.
    Still, why do you call them 'viral marketing'?

  2. Barbara,
    You mean that it doesn't look like a usual viral marketing campaign. No sending video to your friends, no widgets.
    Still the main point is: people transmit the name of the brand. Without any payment, just voluntarily people say 'Jacuzzi' and pass the company's name on, even when they don't mean this specific vendor.