Viral marketing is a style of promotion that uses social networks to spread information quickly and relies on an audience to generate the message of a product or service. Marketing would be considered ‘viral’ when it reaches a point where this audience is sharing on a grand scale, rather than just the initial target audience it was intended for. If done correctly it can result in thousands of shares and views but sometimes a message can unintentionally go viral also…. but what happens when these techniques are applied to UK Hip Hop?

The following are five great examples of UK Hip Hop that used viral marketing either intentionally or unintentionally and are collectively responsible for nearly 2.5 million views on YouTube, as well as countless likes and shares.

  1. Jehst is my Postmanwas a very clever campaign, where a video was apparently released showing Jehst going about his day delivering letters as a postie, absolutely nothing wrong with that but leading to some farily ‘interesting’ comments on YouTube. Part one was uploaded on 10th Feb 2011 by wwwdotnet, allowing ‘controvesy’ to build around this ukhh legend delivering people’s letters.

“Jehst is the man. Terrible that he still has to work. Most lyrically talented uk rapper ever.”

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Video showing Jehst delivering mail..

‘Jehst is my Postman’ (part one) generated nearly 33K views on YouTube (at the time of writing this article). Then a part two of the video was uploaded on 5th April 2011, a gap of nearly 2 months was left after publishing the first part, allowing for the video to be shared and commented on numerous times.

Video showing Jehst delivering mail again..but is it..

‘Jehst is DEFINATELY’ my postman !!’ aka the music video for ‘Starting Over’ shows Jehst once again going about his business delivering the post, when suddenly just as you think the person filming is going to open his door and have a word with one of his heroes, it actually opens onto Jehst’s brand new music video (at the time) for “Starting Over” taken from the ‘The Dragon of an Ordinary Family’ album. This video generated nearly 443K views on YouTube and has to be one of the first of a kind viral marketing Hip Hop videos seen in this country.

“one of the best marketing campaigns ever this, the videos of him delivering the post, posted to all the hip hop forums”

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2. Def D Fire’s Operation Zombie Nation‘ aka ‘OZN’ campaign was a live music event in London held on the 21st October 2011 at an undisclosed location on Great Eastern Street. It used the guise of an impending zombie apocalypse to promote the launch of DefDFires’s (DDF) new album (at the time) “O.Z.N.”. In the weeks leading up to the live music event a series of emails and videos were released which offered ‘sanctuary’ from the approaching chaos of the zombie virus, it asked for anyone seeking refuge to come to the ‘stronghold’, a ‘safehouse’ which had been secured by DefDFires, there would also be ‘morale boosting musical entertainment’ on the night.

You are in danger..

All potential survivors would need to do is simply contact DDF requesting a place in the bunker and for any additional places for loved ones but ‘space is limited, we only have so much tangfastics and tea’, it also requested that people bring torches. As well as videos and emails, a ‘real’ newspaper the Evening Slander bearing the headline “London to be Evacuated” was placed at various tube stations around the capital promoting the event, both referring to the zombie apocalypse as well as the live music.

“London is on the brink of chaos, a catastrophe approaches unlike any we have previously witnessed”

A few days before the event anyone who was lucky enough to secure their place in the bunker was contacted with it’s location. On the night of the 21st there were zombies walking around wearing ‘The End is Nigh’ billboards herding survivors into the venue for the night’s music and ultimately the survival of the species!

The combined series of apocalytpic videos were uploaded by defdfires and Emerging Species and have over 30K views on YouTube.

Footage from the event..

The videos, emails, newspaper, team of zombies and the actual music event made for a fantastic concept piece, a great example of viral marketing, probably one of the best in regards to a live UK Hip Hop event seen thus far.

“DESPITE OUR GOVERNMENT’S ATTEMPTS TO COVER IT UP, SIGNS OF THE UNDEAD VIRUS ARE NOW EVERYWHERE, THE FURTHER FINANCIAL CRASH, HUNDREDS OF CITIZENS REPORTED ‘MISSING’, DAPPY REACHING NUMBER 1 – THE END IS NIGH…”

IKEA furniture used to store Harry’s vinyl and sound equipment

3. Harry Love’s “Records” feature in an IKEA promotional advert and sees the legendary DJ talk about his love for vinyl, in particular some of the storage issues he has housing all of his sound equipment and records, even the toilet is not out of bounds! The challenge that is illustrated by the advert is the need for creating a separation between music and family in the home.

This is a charming video that sees various pieces of IKEA furniture used to store Harry’s equipment built to his own soundtrack and cuts, for instance they use shelving units for the vinyl, coat hooks for headphones, cutlery tray for disks and shoe racks for keyboards, it’s all very clever.

Although this video (uploaded by IRF Industries) only has a couple of thousand views, the advert was shown on British television in 2013, so the reach would’ve been fairly broad at the time and the discussions/social posts that followed would’ve pushed this into viral territory. There is also a series of beats produced by Harry Love especially for the Ikea advert, that you can listen to here.

“Make room for your life”

4. ‘Rapper proposes to girlfriend during rap battle‘ has a whopping 1.9 million views on YouTube and was uploaded by Don’t Flop Entertainment in 2013, Don’t Flop is the largest rap battle league in the UK. The video shows Mos Prob proposing to his rap (and life) partner Rapunsell during a doubles battle against Eek and Enigma, the full battle can be seen here but in comparison only has 65K views on YouTube. It just goes to show that the spectacle created whilst proposing during a battle can garner far more interest than the battle itself, not to take anything away from the Don’t Flop episode as 65 thousand views is nothing to sniff at.

Over the years we have seen similar gestures but never in a UK Hip Hop forum like this, so this is the first of a kind and a highly unlikely setting for a wedding proposal, it’s a lovely moment captured on film.

“I guess a simple “No” would’ve been the best rebuttle ever”

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Yumm, Yumm, Yuuummmmm

5. The ‘MysDiggi “Food Dancing” Sainsbury’s advert‘ was a FAB Award finalist and featured on British television in 2017, it shows Sainsbury’s workers and families dancing whilst making food against the highly energetic stylings of MysDiggi. This advert had massive exposure during it’s television run time and socials were constantly sharing this content, viewers happy to hear a ukhh legend on an advert for such a quintessentially British brand like Sainsbury’s.

MysDiggi also featured in Subway’s ‘Wrap Battle‘ where he raps his food order to Truemendous and Truemendous recently featured in Pepsi Max and McVitie’s commercials, so it’s good to finally see bigger brands notice and feature some of our beloved UK Hip Hop artists on such a mainstream platform. The stage is definitely set for more of this but MysDiggi seems to be the first to test the waters.

What were your favourite viral Hip Hop moments and did I miss any? Let me know if you have more examples where UK Hip Hop went viral and tweet me your thoughts.

Words by Theo Specone

Photography credits for header image: Mike Massaro