netmag

2011 in review: 10 killer YouTube campaigns

Matt Smith, co-founder and director of strategy at The Viral Factory, rounds up 10 of the best social marketing videos of the year. Sit back and enjoy!

2011 is the year when online video exploded. Or did it? Trawling the interwebs to come up with an entertaining best of 2011 list made us realise that actually there wasn’t that much great stuff. So kudos to the videos below for being awesome and cheering us up while they sell us stuff.

[Note: this is not science, it’s opinion. The ranking has nothing to do with the results of each campaign – there are a whole bunch of ranking lists, they are simply ordered by how much we like them]

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1. VW – The Force

Views: 45 million

Star Wars is always a win on the Internet, and so is cute. This Superbowl TV ad combines both to great effect, and won itself a whole heap of free media as a result. It’s hard to imagine anyone ever making a better ad for a family car.

2. DC Shoes – Gymkhana 4

Views: 13 million

A lot of people wondered how they’d follow up the monster that was Gymkhana 3. Here’s how: not-so-subtle film references, world-class driving, and stunt monkeys. Stunt monkeys! We love this film because it’s slick, it’s funny, and it’s absolutely epic.

3. Ojai Valley Taxidermy – Chuck Testa

Views: 8.5 million

Is this for real? Nope! It’s just Chuck Testa. Rhett and Link score big again with this ad for their show Commercial Kings. It openly embraces all that’s wrong about cheap advertising. The acting is awful, the script is diabolical and the camera work sucks, but all of it is done to perfection. Creating a meme/catch phrase is a very tall order, but Chuck Testa does it effortlessly.

4. Carlsberg – Cinema Biker Stunt

Views: 9.5 million

The feelgood online ad of the year. “Doing it for real” is a tricky proposition that requires the client to have guts and the agency to have balls. Props to both for a great idea and spot-on execution.

5. Go Pro – HD Hero 2

Views: 5 million

We’re in love with Go Pros, and have been pitching this film in one form or another to anyone who’d listen. Unfortunately for us and fortunately for everyone else the Go Pro themselves got there first. This film shows the product off in all its compact HD glory and it’s pure porn for adrenalin junkies and visual catnip for the rest of us.

6. Dermablend – Go Beyond The Cover

Views: 7 million views

Riffing off the Dove Real Beauty viral from a few years back, this film makes for rather uncomfortable viewing, but that’s its power. Love it or hate it, it certainly breaks out of online film convention and has bags of attitude.

7. Planet Of The Apes – Ape with AK47

Views: 18 million

Yes, this is a very first thought idea. And yes, subtly branded, apparently real, shaky hand held footage has been done to death. But this is done right and, frankly, what else were they going to do? Sometimes the first thought is the best thought.

8. Westfield – 100 Years/Style/East London

Views: 3.5 million

We made this, and we probably shouldn’t include our own work but this film was a real labour of love, and total ballache to make, and we’re proud of how it turned out. So there.

9. Harvey Nichols – Walk of Shame

Views: 400,000

A perfectly pitched film for the Christmas party season, this has far fewer views than all the others on this list, but it has only been out for a couple of weeks. Glossy yet funny is always a difficult trick to pull off, so we were impressed and irritated in pretty much equal measure that Harvey Nicks pulled it off so well.

10. T Mobile – Wedding Dance

Views: 24.5 million

There’s no denying that this film is a huge success. You can’t argue with 24 million views, but this viral divided opinion at The Viral Factory more than any other this year. Half of the office hated it because it nicked its idea off actual real people who had done something great for their actual real wedding. The other half reckoned it was timely, well executed and that frankly the naysayers could just relax, get over themselves, shut up and go away.

So there you go! Happy Christmas! Hopefully 2012 will offer up much much more of the good stuff, and we’ll welcome marketing into our lives instead of doing everything we possibly can to filter it out!

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