Viral Marketing: Old Becomes New Again

Ian Lurie

I was talking to a friend today about the upcoming big screen adaptation of War of the Worlds. I’m hoping it isn’t too horrifically bad…

Regardless, I started pondering the success of War of the Worlds. Most people think it’s a story told by Orson Welles. Of course, it was a book written by H.G. Wells (no relation) – it became notorious for a 1938 radio broadcast that convinced many Americans we were indeed being invaded by Martians.

It may be the single most successful viral marketing gimmick of the 20th century. Which means viral marketing isn’t such a new thing, right?

Then I started thinking back further in history: Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was passed from house to house, town to town by colonists, and was one of the sparks of the Revolution. Ever hear “Don’t Squeeze the Charmin”? How about “Are you ready for some footbaallllll”?

My point: Viral marketing is not some new, miraculous marketing method. Viral marketing is just another word for ‘successful marketing’. Food for thought…

Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at

Start call to action

See how Portent can help you own your piece of the web.

End call to action
Close search overlay