Kissing - it’s just plain gross, right? Well, that’s what I thought until I saw “First Kiss”, which tops this month’s Global Ads Chart round-up. Splitting a group of (photogenic) strangers off into pairs, the teams were asked to kiss for the first time on camera. At first bemused, then hesitant, the pairs finally accept their fate, eventually succumbing. If this sounds like a more couple-friendly version of Saw, then you’re not far off the money.

The one thing that did not cross my mind, however, while watching Tatia Pilieva’s short film is what a great ad. Not because it’s not ‘great’ – the numbers do not lie, after all. Since it was uploaded on March 11, the video has had its own love affair with the internet, the experiment in human tenderness grossing more than 1.44 million shares across Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere during March alone. The perfect kiss, if you will.

It’s the ‘ad’ part I struggled with – and I’m not the only one. Having watched the video when it first came out I had no idea it was an advert for fashion brand, Wren Clothing. After all, there were no logos, no mentions of Wren itself, apart from a blink-and-you-will-miss-it mention in the credit under ‘styling’ – just three-and-a-half minutes of awkward kissing.

However, after some research into the background of the film the fuzzy polka dots were soon connected. It was revealed the video was actually created using paid models to showcase clothing company Wren's fall 2014 collection, prompting collective gasps, sighs and total indifference across the web. Which begs the question: why not just brand it in the first place? Why not just stick your logo on it? As Dr Karen Nelson-Field’s revealed in her recent book ‘Viral Marketing: The Science of Sharing’, using poorly branded advertising is like throwing away your marketing budget as there is no correlation between how much sharing a video attracts and the level of branding. As for the video itself, while I appreciate the soft lighting and twinkly music of ‘First Kiss’, I can’t help but feel that if you want to see people who don’t know each other’s names snog each other’s faces off, literally any club on a Friday night will do.

New ads for various charities and non-profits dominate the rest of the chart. Leading the way in second spot with a highly-respectable 866,365 shares last month is a video from Save The Children UK called “Most Shocking Second A Day Video”.

Now, we’ve all seen plenty of ‘Second A Day’ videos online and have grown used to their tropes: sometimes they’re mundane, sometimes they’re life-affirming, most often, beards grow and recede like the turning of the tide. Save The Children’s spot smartly takes the Second A Day video (our foremost celebration of Everydayness) and turns it to a completely unfamiliar and unsettling scene: the plight of dislocated children in Syria. The results are, as you might expect, rather shocking. The video’s success is a little bit more predictable, however.

One place below with 718,900 shares is a spot from Italian non-profit Coordown, created to raise awareness of World Down’s Syndrome Day (March 21st). While charity adverts can verge on the condescending, “Dear Future Mom” is a sweetly empowering video about living a full and happy life, whatever the circumstances. Having people with Down’s Syndrome confidently reassuring an expectant mother about their condition nicely inverts the usual PSA fare.

Released with the hashtag #DearFutureMom, this is a spot with an inspiringly simple message. Empathy and support, Coordown says, needn’t always be sensationalist; sometimes it’s enough to affirm what we all have in common.

A few places down in 19th place is a campaign which encourages young girls to pursue leadership roles without fear of discrimination. The campaign, titled “Ban Bossy”, features interviews with successful women discussing their history of being belittled for their ambitions. Words like ‘pushy’, ‘stubborn’ and, of course, ‘bossy’ abound. There’s a fairly all-star cast on hand to support the cause: names like Condoleeza Rice, Jennifer Garner and ‘Lean In’ writer Sheryl Sandberg. For the purposes of Celeb Bingo, Beyoncé is of course the main attraction, giving a fiery reading of the titular quote.

A video from UK animal charity The Mayhew Animal Home also makes it on to the top 20. Rather than the usual heart-breaking animal charity film showing a dog with sad eyes trembling in a cage, “Unloved” instead shows why animals should be celebrated rather than pitied. It shows us a glimpse of the lives of some very weary souls. We have a football ref harangued after the match, a club bouncer threatened by some bushy-tailed young partygoers and a charity worker totally invisible to passing shoppers on the high street. Thanks heavens then that they all have a fluffy bundle of love waiting at home to woof away the pains of human society.

Other new ads to make it on to this month’s top 20 include a series of videos from Samsung showcasing the new Galaxy S5, Gear 2 and Gear Fit, a commercial from Durex supporting Earth Day, a travel company campaign urging Danes to have sex on holiday to boost the country’s flagging birth rate and a Pepsi prankvert which adds a little magic to the doldrums of the daily bus commute.

Top 20 Most Shared, Branded Video Ads During March 2014

  1. Wren Clothing: First Kiss: Shares: 1.44 million shares
  2. Save The Children: Most Shocking Second A Day Video: Shares: 866,365
  3. Coordown: Dear Future Mom: Shares: 718,900
  4. Pepsi Max: Test Drive 2Shares: 423,204
  5. Samsung: Galaxy S5 – Official Hands-OnShares: 384,551
  6. Samsung: Galaxy S5 – Official IntroductionShares: 342,962
  7. FailteIrelandTV: St Patrick’s Day - #IrelandInspiresShares: 224,495
  8. Chanel: Coco Mademoiselle – She’s Not ThereShares: 214,089
  9. Edeka: SupergeilShares: 152,017
  10. Durex: #TurnOffToTurnOnShares: 131,471
  11. Coca-Cola: Social Media GuardShares: 127,862
  12. Samsung: Gear 2, Gear Fit – Official Hands-onShares: 120,694
  13. Three: #SingItKittyShares: 116,809
  14. Disney: FROZEN – Let It GoShares: 116,464
  15. Pepsi Max: Unbelievable Bus ShelterShares: 104,393
  16. Kuka: Timo Boll v Kuka RobotShares: 101,253
  17. Spies Travels: Do It For DenmarkShares: 93,723
  18. Samsung: What’s Your Problem? Sport Doesn’t CareShares: 91,444
  19. Lifetime and Ban Bossy: Beyonce - I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss: Shares: 89,952
  20. Mayhew Animal Home: Unloved: Shares: 87,854
  • Jenny Block

    Hi David - the budget for the wren video was 1300, the people in the video were not paid and it starts out with wren presents. Read the new york times business section article on this / get your facts straight please