Along with the Harlem Shakes, singing astronauts and twerking fails, 2013 was another big year for viral video marketing case studies. From the emotionally powerful (Dove’s ‘Sketches’ and Skype’s ‘Born Friends’ ) to the very risky (Durex’s ‘Fundawear’ and Kmart’s ‘Ship My Pants’) there’s been a wealth of great online marketing ads that got many people sharing. This year also saw the introduction of Twitter’s Vine videos - with Lowes and Tide leading the 6-second format with smart and engaging ads. To round off the year, we’ve put together our 25 favourite virals for your viewing pleasure…
Unilever's Dove campaign, ‘Real Beauty Sketches’, was one of the viral success stories of the year, attracting over 60 million views so far with its emotionally powerful message. The film features a police sketch artist drawing pictures by listening to how women to portray themselves. He then draws the same person from another person's description, and the two images are compared. It’s a brilliantly simple idea, with the most impactful of outcomes. Led by Ogilvy Brazil São Paulo, the ad impressed judges at the 2013 Cannes Lions festival, winning two Gold Lions for Best Use of Social Media and Best Integrated Campaign Led by PR.
Sometimes juvenile humour is the key to consumer’s hearts- as shown by this ad for US retailer Kmart, getting tens of millions of viewers within weeks with an ad that repeats the phrase “Ship My Pants”… to promote its delivery service obviously. Featuring a series of shoppers exclaiming “Ship My Pants” to promote Kmart’s Shop Your Way rewards program and its ship to store free shipping feature. The ad was successful enough to spawn a follow up, extolling the virtues of ‘Big Gas Savings’…
Lowe's released eight amazingly simple Vine videos of cool home improvement tips and lifehacks. The short videos strike a perfect balance between brand promotion and consumer usefulness. The Lowe's campaign, dubbed #lowesfixinsix, is one of the best uses of the social medium as a marketing tool we've seen yet. #lowesfixinsix uses stop-motion animation to give handy DIY lessons — unscrewing a stripped screw, taking off a stubborn sticker, cleaning a dirty cookie sheet. To ensure some quality, the brand and its ad agency, BBDO, contracted Meagan Cignoli, a photographer and Vine user who had two shortlisted entries in the inaugural #6secfilms. Based on a hugely positive Twitter response, we think it's safe to call this particular campaign successful.
Move over sexting… this risqué new viral ad from Durex Australia puts a new spin on long distance relationship with a new way by combining sex and technology. The condom manufacturer developed Fundawear, a high-tech vibrating underwear that stimulates at the touch of a button, meaning long-distance relationships have never been easier (or more fun). Fundawear is still being developed and is not yet on the market. If you fancy testing one out go to their Facebook page (but this is one device you definitely do not want hacked.)
This Coca-Cola ad took Cannes by storm, featuring a ‘Small World Machine’, linking Indians and Pakistanis via a live communications portal- getting 2.5 million YouTube views in the process. The viral, created by Leo Burnett Sydney for Coca-Cola, placed two camera equipped Coke vending machines set up in Lahore and Delhi. The film features Indians and Pakistanis interacting with each other, via the machine. Despite sharing historical and cultural links, the borders of India and Pakistan are divided by barbed wire with both nations sharing mutual hostility and suspicion. This ad from Coca-Cola aimed to break down these barriers with new technology to share common interests in a fun way.
This PS4 ad was easily the cheapest to produce on the list, but also the most cost-effective. As this year’s next-gen console wars heated up, Sony issued a cheeky 'Official PlayStation Used Game Instructional Video' on YouTube showing how simple it is to swap games compared to XBox One. The video featured the firms' President Shuhei Yoshida handing his game disc to publishing boss Adam Boyes. The video was watched over 14 million times- helping cement Sony’s position as ‘on the side of gamers’ and helped push Microsoft into a dramatic U-turn on its used-game policy. The strategy seems to have payed off for Sony, with current PS4 sales piping Xbox One globally.
Ad agency Mccann’s Dumb Ways to Die became the most awarded ad in the history of the Cannes advertising festival, with its offbeat public service announcement for Metro Trains Melbourne finishing the festival with 32 Lions, including five Grand Prix awards, 18 gold, three silver and six bronze. The Australian-made advertisement featured animated characters being mauled, electrocuted, murdered and run over by trains, to educate young people about rail safety. John Hegarty, Film Lions jury president and founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, said the campaign "moved beyond advertising" and became part of the "social fabric. I think it's actually a very interesting new way of using television," Hegarty said. "Instead of relying upon a conventional 30-second spot to create something that is truly imaginative, Dumb Ways to Die captures people's imagination, and they in turn pass it on and become part of your media. It's a very cost-effective way of getting 70 million people." The campaign even spawned a GTA V parody here.
Evian refreshed its hugely successful ‘Evian babies’ campaign, with a new viral video that matches dancing adults to their toddler counterparts. Supported by baby face-changing app, the ad has notched up over 45 million views on YouTube.The new ‘Baby & Me’ ad campaign from agency BETC was shot by We Are From LA through production company Iconoclast. This latest video saw Evian’s babies repeat the formula of previous babies videos to represent “your gleeful inner child,” but this time they want to dance with you.
As part of its hugely successful ‘Volvo Trucks’ stunt series on YouTube, the Swedish auto maker hired the ‘Muscles from Brussels’ himself- Jean Claude Van Damme- to perform an eye-watering stunt between two moving heavy vehicles. Volvo has been running a new series on YouTube to promote its Truck range all year, with previous death-defying entries featuring a bull run in Spain and the company CEO Claes Nilsson standing on a truck dangling from a crane by just its front hook. The latest advert, which aims to promote Volvo Trucks’ new dynamic steering system and has become a YouTube hit, garnering over 56m views since its launch.
As Halloween approached, Procter and Gamble’s detergent brand Tide featured a series on horror movie parodies using Twitter’s 6-second Vine video format. The Halloween-themed Vine spots feature in digital out-of-home ads in 11 markets; running through October 31st. Working with US ad agency Digitas, Tide originally planned to create seven Vines that spoof horror films leading up to Halloween. The Twitter ads revolved around Halloween-based keywords. However, after positive reception on social media, the brand decided to increase the output to one video every two days.
(13% sales uplift)
This clever little marketing campaign created a 13% sales boost for a small book shop in Switzerland. With more travel research being conducted online, the Travel Book Shop highlighted the limits of the internet with a video showing a crashed Google Streetview car- generating plenty of buzz in the process. The hoax went viral, and got coverage on some of Switzerland's biggest news publications, where it was read by 200,000 people. A Flickr account also posted seemingly genuine photos of the team next to the car, wearing a 'Travel Book Shop' T-Shirt. The video linked back to the Travel Book Shop, and traffic boomed by 300%, resulting in a sales uplift of 13% compared to the previous year.
View the latest ad here:
With the latest John Lewis' Christmas ad ‘The Bare and the Hare’ hitting both TV and YouTube this Christmas, just how did the retailer manage to achieve such high-profile anticipation and social media comment for a seasonal campaign? This case study from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) interviews some to the people behind the previous festive campaigns to see how the department store chain managed to eclipse rivals such as Marks and Spencer and Debenhams to position itself as the premier shopping destination for Christmas in the UK.
(45m views- campaign total)
Pepsi is running a YouTube series capturing the life of an old man with seemingly supernatural basketball skills, attracting nearly 40 million views with brand engagement that extends far beyond a 30-second TV commercial. The campaign, which first launched back in May 2012, centres around ‘ Uncle Drew’, a seemingly old-school grizzled basketball veteran. Unbeknownst to his real-life basketball opponents, Drew is actually Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving, who was named NBA’s 2012 Rookie of the Year. The stories focus on ‘Drew’ being pitted against opponents who are unaware of his real identity, capturing their astonishment as the 65-year old blazes past defenders, delivers colossal dunks, and shoots three pointers.
What would a viral list be without some cute animals? Purina’s dog food brand Beneful created a canine-based Rube Goldberg machine, creating a buzz online with 2 million YouTube views just 2 weeks after launch. A Border Collie puts a ball through a basketball net, an American Bulldog-mix wags his tail while eating which unknowingly opens a bin of tennis balls, a Border Terrier walks on a spinning wheel that releases a Frisbee into the air, and much more. With the tagline “Play. It’s good for you” in mind, and ultimately spelled out with dominos at the end, a number of dogs are featured as part of a deliberately over-engineered series of small obstacles that trigger a chain reaction to accomplish a simple task, in classic Rube Goldberg style.
To promote its remake of horror classic ‘Carrie’, Sony Pictures and MGM created an elaborate (and rather terrifying) hidden camera prank which has gone viral big time, getting over 4 million YouTube views. To build buzz around the upcoming film, billed as a "re-imagining" of the classic horror novel by Stephen King, Sony's marketing team staged a fake display of telekinetic rage in a New York cafe. When a clumsy customer knocks over a woman's drink, she loses her temper and appears to pin him to the wall telekinetically, before angrily scattering tables using her supposed "powers". The video, titled 'Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise', shows how the prank was set up as well as how it plays out and frightens real-life customers. It's already racked up over a staggering 50m views on YouTube.
This Sodastream commercial became a hit on YouTube, after being banned from a Super Bowl spot by broadcaster CBS for mocking rivals Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The banned version appeared on YouTube, and has amassed around 5 million views to date. CBS rejected the company's initial attempt at a Super Bowl spot, reportedly, because the content of the spot took a direct swipe at two other Super bowl participants - Coke and Pepsi. After the ban, Sodastream submitted a revised version featuring no brand names. It also released the spot that was rejected by CBS. The original ad featured Pepsi and Coca-Cola delivery men jostling for position in a store parking lot, who are soaked when their respective products begin to explode thanks to the "SodaStream effect." The ad touted how environmentally friendly the product is, as compared to the major soft drink manufacturers who get through plenty of plastic packaging each day.
Viral video case study: Snickers ‘misspelling’ search keyword campaign reaches 500,000 people in 3 days.
(500,000 searches in 3 days)
Although not strictly a video viral, the case study for this Snickers search campaign is compelling enough. Targeting fat-fingered typists across the UK, this clever campaign from the chocolate brand Snickers used misspelled words in Google keywords to capture hungry office workers’ attention during the working day. This case study outlines how the chocolate bar brand managed to reach 500,000 people within just three days of launch, without any seeding and for less cost than bidding on brand keywords. Snickers worked with AMV BBDO & Mediacom to produce a search campaign that tied in with their ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ campaign. The concept was to bid on commonly misspelt words with an advert reading “Grab yourself a Snikkers” as “Yu cant spel properlie wen hungrie”.
Viral video case study: Royal baby and online marketing: How 10 brands newsjacked the birth of Prince George
Back in July, the world's media focused on one couple and one baby - attracting hundreds of millions of consumers, to thousands of high traffic pieces of content. Smart brands leapt at the opportunity creating branded content and tactical media buys. From Magnum to Oreo, Pampers to Coke, this case study shows how social media can ‘newsjack’ any big cultural event to share your brand's point of view.
Viral video case study: British Airways ‘look up’ outdoor campaign identifies real planes in the sky
In November, British Airways unveiled new interactive digital billboards that can identify real planes as they fly overhead, courtesy of some technical wizardry. The campaign, developed in partnership with Ogilvy 12th Floor and Storm, placed billboards in Chiswick and Piccadilly to track British Airways' aircraft. As planes fly overhead, they interrupt the digital display to reveal an image of a child pointing at the plane accompanied by its flight number and its route. The billboard on the opposite side displays information about where the flight has departed from or its ultimate destination as well as providing the viewer with the BA website and the campaign's hash tag #lookup. The campaign forms part of the airlines new Magic of Flying campaign.
As part of its ‘Stay Together’ series, this video from Skype tugs at the heart strings, telling the story of a long-distance friendship between two teenage girls, from the US and New Zealand, who were both born with one arm. The emotional impact of the ad has led to over 2 million views so far. Skype asked its users to send in stories of how they've stayed connected with friends and family using the video chat software, where Sarah and Paige's story featured. Friends for eight years, Sarah and Paige originally bonded over the fact that each had to grow up without an arm. But their friendship is about more than that now and they tell each other everything - all that without ever meeting in real life.
With the help of an innovative laser-print technique, Fyffes managed to print six different comics on banana skins. This case study looks at how the fruit brand managed to get kids to ditch sweets for bananas. Children in industrialized nations are eating too much fast food and sweets. The result: diabetes and adiposity. To change this FYFFES initiated a global campaign: The “Banana Comic Week 2013”. In collaboration with the famous CARLSEN Comics the comic-hero “FYFE” was developed – a boy who turned into a superhero by eating a banana. The “Banana Comic Week 2013” were a great success in each of the 9 countries and every school and convinced children and parents how delicious and powerful bananas are.
Virgin Mobile USA launched an interactive video campaign where a viewer can control simply by blinking- provided they are using a webcam. The 'Blinkwashed' YouTube ad, created by Mother New York, is the final instalment of the mobile network’s 'Retrain Your Brain' campaign. It begins as a fairly straightforward ad explaining why it's a good idea for you to switch your phone contract to Virgin Mobile, but every time you blink, the scene on screen changes, getting more and more ridiculous as time goes on. The technology in the spot works by scanning each viewer's eyes via their webcam so that the computer picks up the action every time they blink. The film is then designed to switch scenes with every blink. Virgin Mobile USA created 25 different YouTube adverts which can be skipped through during the commericals duration.
Swapping electronic Apples for edible ones, this commercial from Carlsberg brand Somersby Cider has become a YouTube hit, racking up over 1.5 million views within a week and plenty of social media shares. The ad created by agency Fold7, London pokes fun at Apple product launches, starting with excited fans and the cheering and high fiving of customers as they enter the store. The “The Somersby Store” ad takes places in a store that is designed just like Apple Stores, complete with Geniuses wowing customers with the features of Somersby Cider, using puns that reference the technology the ad is spoofing, including “dual-core,” “in-to-face” (interface), “16-pit” and “32-pit” options, and more.
Following its successful ‘Art of the Trench campaign, luxury fashion brand Burberry has teamed up with Google to let people capture their kisses by direct contact with their touch screen device, adding a personalised message and send on to friends across the globe. Kisses.Burberry.com lets Google Chrome and mobile users share “kisses” via a desktop camera or touchscreen device’. These ‘they can then personalise, by adding a Burberry Beauty lip colour’, before sending it on. The “journey’ of each kiss is then ‘brought to life’ via a 3D animation using Google Earth and Streetview. According to Burberry Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey, the experience is designed to give technology "a bit of heart and soul."
(231 million media impressions)
For its 100th birthday Oreo wanted to boost front of mind awareness, create buzz that would build brand equity, and extend their fan base further. The big idea was a massive PR and social media campaign to put an Oreo “twist” on daily events. This 100 day online campaign - called the ‘Daily Twist’ - saw Oreo create highly topical content based on the day’s biggest news story or key word trends, and release a new piece of content each day through its social channels. 100 pieces of content published across 100 days fuelled their owned digital media ecosystem. The topics ranged from turning the brand into pictures of iconic music stars to creating on-screen versions of iconic computer games – but putting the brand into the heart of the game. Oreo unlocked an explosion of social conversation. Facebook audiences rose by over 1 million and shares rose by 280%. This helped generated the equivalent of 231 million media impressions and gave the brand the highest overall buzz increase in 2012 (+49).
Yorkshire Tea took to YouTube, with an epic song celebrating the virtues of the old fashioned cuppa, incorporating zombies, brass bands and even the odd Skyrim reference. The advert imitates Old Spice's classic ‘The man your man could smell like’ ad, with an engaging walk through a myriad of scenes celebrating the fun and frivolous side of a good cup of tea, whilst showcasing the soothing effects of a proper brew. Yorkshire tea worked with agency Rubber Republic to produce the 3 minute ad, best suited to long-form YouTube viewing rather than a 30-second TV slot. It was also seeded by The Viral Ad Network.