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  • Writer's pictureDavid Reavis

5 elements of a viral campaign: case study

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

Have you heard about the Twitter account MuseumBums?

It has enabled formal, sometimes stodgy, art museums across Great Britain to rebrand themselves as edgy, fun, maybe even a little “cheeky.” Bear with me as the following backstory sets the stage for a few best practices if your goal is to take your marketing campaign viral. 

The brainchild of two English gents, both of whom work in the museum business, MuseumBums features an annual contest, “The Big Museum Bum Count,” that ranks art museums across the U.K. by the number of “bums” (naked bottoms) displayed. Both men travel the country annually to visit museums, counting statues, paintings, sculptures, and other works featuring the backsides of both men and women.  In just a few short years, the Twitter account and contest have taken on a viral life of their own, garnering the attention of veteran museum goers, as well as a younger audience new to the art world.

Previously viewed by some as uptight and a bit formal, art museums across Britain, thanks to the viral power of social media, have been rebranded as more approachable, down-to-earth and self-effacing, unafraid to poke fun at themselves. 

What made this contest go viral? The contest featured these important elements: Fun – The curator of last year’s winning museum, The Museum of Classical Archaeology, proudly proclaimed “It’s a good giggle and before the guys arrived [to review our collection], we had exchanged our favourite (sic) museum bums over Twitter.” Something tells me this was not in her original job description. Memorable – Not much elaboration needed. The contest is unique, different, and hard to forget. Engaging – The contest’s magic is the audience’s ability to actively participate by posting their own entries of butts in art, resulting in a Twitter feed full of funny comments, snarky retorts, and creative memes. Educational – According to the curator, looking at the backside of a statue can help one identify the period in which it was created. Why? During the changeover from the archaic period to the classical period, circa AD 480, sculptors starting using a new pose in their work. Called the “contrapposto,” it features the subject with their weight on one leg and their hip and backside extended. Who knew? And finally, Influential – The museum contest and Twitter feed made art cool, funny, and whimsical, influencing and attracting a new generation of art enthusiasts who view social media as their primary source of entertainment and information. Want a chuckle? Check out MuseumBums and #bestmuseumbums. You will laugh, learn something memorable and best of all, have a great topic to share at your next cocktail party. Sources: Cambridge Independent (UK); NPR

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