Every week, Ad Age and Visible Measures bring you the top 10 most-viewed brand videos, and once a year, we get to honor the best of the best.
At the third-annual Ad Age Viral Video Awards Tuesday night hosted by Shira Lazar of "What's Trending," brands ranging from Honda to Samsung to Dollar Shave Club picked up trophies for rising to the top of the heap. The event followed the first day of Ad Age's Digital Conference, which will continue in New York through Wednesday.
Our winners' list isn't exactly quantitative -- just landing on the Viral Video Chart means each campaign did well -- but, rather, a selection of spots that surprised and fascinated, and helped shake up branded online-video entertainment. Check out the full list below, and click on the images to watch the spots.
Advertiser Achievement Award For Totally Owning Youtube
Google: The Web Is What You Make Of It
Total campaign Views: 106,234,304
There's no question Google was king of the Viral Video Chart this year, and above is one reason why. To market its Chrome browser, Google took advantage of using web-browsing as a narrative tool, and used it to tell the stories of what the web can make possible. From sharing life stories as part of the "It Gets Better" project to a father chronicling his daughter's childhood in "Dear Sophie"
to capturing the phenomenal rise of pop superstar Justin Bieber
, it turns out Google has made a difference in a lot of lives -- and the smartest thing it's done as a marketer is to show exactly how.
Best Use Of Music At The Grammys
Chipotle: "Back To The Start"
Agency: CAA Marketing
This two-minute spot featured Willie Nelson covering Coldplay's "the Scientist," and was the chain's first national TV ad (though Chipotle did release the ad online in late August). The ad takes viewers through one farmer's journey, from a huge industrialized farming compound to one with more sustainable and humane practices. Chipotle encouraged viewers to download the song at iTunes, with proceeds going to the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation.
Best Celebrity M-F Spokes-CEO
K-Swiss: "M-F CEO Kenny Powers"
K-Swiss played right into its audience's heart by integrating "Eastbound & Down"'s Kenny Powers into the premise of this viral campaign. Most brands wouldn't dream of building an entire marketing push around such a polarizing character (a sexist, bullying, foul-mouthed ego maniac), but we loved the risky spots and applaud K-Swiss for daring to keep entertainment at the forefront of its online strategy. F*** the FCC!
Best Apple Fanboy Hating
Samsung set it sights on rabid, cult-like Apple worshipers in its marketing for the Galaxy S II phone, which spoofs the hysteria surrounding the release of an Apple product. A cheap shot? Maybe, but it worked. Its message was clear and essential to marketing any non-Apple smartphone: the iPhone isn't the only way or even the best way to mobile enlightenment.
Best 'Good Times' Beer Ad That Actually Looks Like A Good Time
Heineken: "The Entrance"
Now that's how you arrive at a party. "The Entrance" was the colorful 90-second cornerstone of Heineken's lush web campaign from Weiden & Kennedy that topped the Viral Chart last year. It was accompanied by a handful of other videos that explored characters and backstories hinted at in the main spot, and it had us wishing for the weekend.
Best Celebrity Wedding Hack
T-Mobile: "Royal Wedding"
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Taking full advantage of Royal Wedding fever last spring, T-Mobile's uncanny spot featured an eerily recognizable wedding party, including Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles (plus the soon-to-be-newlyweds themselves, Prince Charles and Kate Middleton), dancing down the aisles of Westminster Abbey. The spot kept to T-Mobile's impressive history of matching branded entertainment with zeitgeisty, flash-mob-style dance videos.
Best Use Of Facebook Fan Power
Intel/Toshiba: "The Inside Experience"
It was only a matter of time before Hollywood used the social web for more than just marketing. Last summer, Intel and Toshiba cracked the code of "social film," casting actress Emmy Rossum in the experimental film project called "Inside." In real time over the next two weeks, the project played out through a combination of eight filmed episodes and live interactions with the audience and other characters on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Fans weren't the only ones who loved it -- "Inside" drew critical acclaim and made a big impression on us for its innovative approach to branded online entertainment.
Best Campaign That Made Ad Age Staffers Cry
Agency: Universal Mccann
As part of its "Where Will Happiness Strike Next?" campaign, Coca-Cola Philippines brought some of the 11 million Overseas Filipino Worker (or OFWs) -- some of whom work outside their homeland and live away from their families and friends for years on end -- home for the holidays and captured it in an inspiring film that left us reaching for a tissue.
Best Use Of Alec Baldwin To Sell Stuff
New Era: "Trash Talking"
Here's a novel idea: take two of fans' favorite characters from two of TV's favorite shows and engage them in a sports-debate royale. Though "30 Rock" star Alec Baldwin is best known for his cheeky Capital One
spots, it's New Era's use of him and "The Office"'s John Krasinski that stuck with us. Why? John: "Being a Yankees fan is like being a huge fan of fascism." Alec: "No, it's like being a huge fan of winning. Which we do. Relentlessly." Cosign.
Best Out-of-nowhere Video Campaign
Dollar Shave Club: "Our Blades Are F***ing Great"
You didn't see it coming, but you haven't forgotten it since. Mail-order razor company Dollar Shave Club's quirky ad starring its founder and co-CEO, Michael Dubin, racked up 4 million views in its first month. More importantly, it got people talking about Dollar Shave Club, which didn't even exist two years ago. We loved its memorable lines, many of which took direct aim at the company's much larger competitors: "Do you think your razor needs a vibrating handle, a flashlight, a back-scratcher and 10 blades? Your handsome-ass grandfather had one blade...and polio."
Best Super Bowl Ad Before The Super Bowl
Honda: "Matthew's Day Off"
In a risky move, Honda released first a 10-second teaser and then a two-and-a-half-minute version of what would be a 60-second Super Bowl spot featuring Matthew Broderick paying homage to his Ferris Bueller roots. Though the spot fired up some fans who were hoping the teaser predicated a sequel to the hit 1986 film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," releasing the spots early generated plenty of buzz for Honda, and the spot was still one of the most talked-about (and viewed
) of Super Bowl XLVI.