February 5, 2014 E3

(Some of) The Biggest Viral Ads Of 2013

Now that we’re well into the first quarter of 2014, we can look back on the previous year and take stock of some of the best brand videos 2013 had to offer.  We laughed, we cried, we marveled at the lengths to which some brands were willing to go. These viral ads illustrate what it means to create quality content. Not just good commercials, but view-worthy content.

These viral ads are listed in descending order based on YouTube views. Some are older than others and that could skew the viewing data just a bit, but it’s a straightforward way of listing them. Some of these ads also ran as television commercials, while others were generated for online audiences only. But no matter where they originated, they gained a lot of traction on YouTube.

My Inner Baby And Me

The latest installment in Evian’s baby-based commercials, this video shows us what happens when we get in touch with our (adorable) inner children.

Volvo Trucks, Van Damme, And The Epic Split

According to VisibleMeasures, this was the most viral, non-Super Bowl ad campaign ever created and it comes in second only to Volkswagen’s “The Force” ad as the most viewed auto campaign of all time. The premise is simple. Jean-Claude Van Damme. Two trucks. A split.  And it’s real. Yes, they took safety precautions but Van Damme actually performed the stunt. In one take. For once, the “epic” modifier isn’t just hyperbole.

Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise (And A Fake Prank Video)

This prank video was produced to promote 2013’s reboot of Stephen King’s Carrie. Pranks are always fun to watch. And if you’ve ever seen the show Scare Tactics, you know how fun it can be to terrify your friends. So it’s no surprise that this viral ad was so popular.

And let’s make a quick comparison. If you remember the Jeff Gordon prank video, “Test Drive,” you’ll see what happens when you try to make a fake prank work. It, in fact, is a viral ad. It got a lot of attention online. But it became very obvious very quickly that the commercial was fake. Though honestly, it shouldn’t have taken in-depth analysis to prove it. Common sense and bad acting should have really been the first clues that the video was staged.

WestJet’s Christmas Miracle

This Canadian carrier is no stranger to viral ads. They have a history of creating content that viewers love and share. They filmed this commercial using real flights with real passengers. The shopping and wrapping actually took place in the allotted time. And the result was a delightful, feel-good holiday spot that is worth the run time.  And socks and underwear guy probably wishes he’d have aimed a little higher…

Girls and Poo Humor

Bathroom humor can go one of two ways (no pun intended). It can either fail miserably or get real laughs. This video falls into the latter category. It seems juxtaposing a proper British gal with poo humor means viral ad gold.

The Shipping Of One’s Pants

Speaking of bathroom humor, discount retailer Kmart found a way to tickle the funny bones of kids from ages one to ninety-two with this viral ad.

What Day Is It?

What turned this television commercial into a viral ad? Is it the adorable camel? Is it that anyone who works Monday through Friday knows someone who loves to talk about Hump Day week after week after week? Is it because we all hate that guy (or gal)? Is it all of the above? We don’t know. But everything about this commercial seems to have resonated across the internet.


And Now For The Tear Jerker

This viral ad was produced in Thailand, and oddly enough, was created by a telecommunications company. But it tells a beautiful story. And it’s so well done that it, according to Gawker, puts Hollywood movies to shame. If you haven’t seen this viral ad and you’re prone to tears, have a tissue handy as you view.

This Isn’t Every Viral Ad…

This list isn’t a complete list of great viral ad content for 2013, but they are some of the most popular. The eye-opening Dove “Real Beauty” sketch video and the Microsoft “Child of the Nineties” trip down memory lane deserve mentions, to be sure.

Advertising tells a story. The story of the brand, of course, but when we study advertising as a whole, we get a story about the broader culture. What do these viral ads say about 2013? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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