Followers of the Unruly Viral Video Chart were certainly put through the emotional wringer last month. Rather than just laughing out loud at the usual glut of funny commercials, September’s chart served up more drama and suspense than an Oscar-winning movie. A big factor in an ad’s viral success is the strength of emotion it elicits from its audience – and that was certainly the case last month. From cruel pranks to ads that will leave you with a lump in your throat – the top 10 alone should probably come with its own health warning. But don’t worry – there are some truly hilarious ads in there too to cheer you up.
Setting the pace for this emotional rollercoaster of a month is a commercial for a Thai telecoms company that some have even branded the ‘saddest ad of all time’. The commercial, for TrueMove, somehow manages to pack more emotional punch in just three minutes than films like Titanic managed in 15 hours (or however long it actually was). So much so, it has already had the vast majority of the 13 million people who have seen it so far not only reaching for their tear-drenched hankies, but also the share button. Since its launch on September 12, the video has racked up a staggering 1.61million shares, which means 1 in every 13 people who have seen it have been moved enough to share it with their social networks.
But what's it about? OK, hankies at the ready. The film begins with a small boy being caught stealing pills for his sick mum. He is saved by a man from a nearby cafe, who comes over and pays the pharmacy owner for the stolen items, as well as giving the boy some soup. Fast forward 30 years on and the cafe owner is taken ill. Stuck with a huge medical bill, his daughter is forced to put their house up for sale. However, when the final bill from the doctor arrives, she finds everything has been paid for with a note that explains that "all expenses have been paid, with three packs of painkillers and a bag of veggie soup". For those of you still scratching your heads, the little boy is now the doctor treating the kind old man. The ad closes with: "Giving is the best communication".
Not far behind is a brilliant, heart-warming campaign from Guinness which manages to capture more about friendship in just 60 seconds than your average Hollywood buddy movie does in two hours. Created by BBDO, New York, it features a group of men playing a match of wheelchair basketball. They then head off for a drink after the game. However, not everything is as it seems. There is a twist in the tale which is almost guaranteed to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Part of its "Made of More" campaign, the ad also made a lot of friends on the web last month. Since its launch on September 3, it has attracted more than half a million shares, making it the sixth most shared ad during September.
But don’t put the hankies away just yet. Another ad, this time from Mexican fast food chain Chipotle, also made a dramatic entrance onto the Unruly Viral Video Chart last month. “The Scarecrow” is a stunning animated video that would not look out of place at any cinema. It tells the story of a scarecrow who becomes so disillusioned working for a company which uses factory farming he decides to set up his own food stand using ingredients grown on his own farm. It’s not only a brilliant piece of art and storytelling, but also a very clever way of marketing Chipotle’s commitment to using far more in the way of sustainably-grown ingredients than most other fast-food chains. And the message has certainly struck a chord. The video was the eighth most shared ad during September, attracting an incredible 377,985 shares.
Another to make it onto the top 10 is an ad campaign from LG which pushes the latest trend of so-called ‘prankverts’ to frightening new limits. If you thought scaring people in an elevator half to death just to show off the clarity of its HD TV screens was harsh, then the tech brand’s latest campaign, Meteor Prank, beggars belief. The video begins by showing LG technicians installing a super wide-screen monitor to make it look like a normal office window. They then invite applicants in to an interview for a (seemingly imaginary) job in the (seemingly ordinary) office. The skyline is peaceful outside and all is well – until, of course, an asteroid zooms into the city, exploding in a fireball that wouldn't look out of place in a Roland Emmerich film. The applicants, understandably, freak out and the viewer gets to imagine how they would react in such a situation. Things are put back to normal when LG explains that what seemed like the end of days was merely a demonstration of its TVs’ superior image quality. The controversial ad unsurprisingly attracted a lot of attention last month, racking up 700,015 shares, to put it in third position.
But it was not the only ad to make us laugh out loud during September. Mercedes’ hilarious video to promote its new “Magic Body Control” feature gives a new meaning to the phrase ‘funny chicken’, while Poo-Pourri (it’s a real brand, honest) somehow manages to turn a bland product into comedy gold.
Budweiser’s poignant 2002 tribute to the victims of 9/11 also made a return to the Unruly Viral Video Chart during September.
Meanwhile, Geico’s Hump Day commercial – at number three – is showing no signs of slowing down, and at its current rate is on course to overtake Dove’s Beauty Sketches as the number one ad of 2013 next month.
Top 20 Most Shared, Branded Video Ads During September 2013
1. TrueMove – Giving Shares: 1.16million
2. Phonebloks – Phonebloks Shares: 973,454
3. LG – Meteor Prank Shares: 700,015
4. PooPourri.com – Girls Don’t Poop Shares: 695,763
5. GEICO – Hump Day Shares: 608,502
6. Guinness – Wheelchair basketball commercial Shares: 539,909
7. Samsung: Introducing Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Shares: 433,876
8. Chiptotle – The Scarecrow Shares: 377,985
9. Mercedes-Benz – Chicken Shares: 322,273
10. Samsung: Galaxy Note 3, Official First Hands-On Shares: 321,727
11. EA: We are FIFA 14 Shares: 227,656
12. Evian: Baby&Me Shares: 172,622
13. Dior Homme – Uncensored Directors’ Cut Shares: 179,593
14. Budweiser: 9/11 Tribute Shares: 144,775
15. Qatar Airways and FC Barcelona: A Team That Unites The World Shares: 135,450
16. Chanel: Gabrielle Chanel Shares: 116,252
17. Melbourne Metro: Dumb Ways To Die Shares: 97,930
18. Head and Shoulders: Joel Santana Shares: 93,943
19. Kia: Soul Hamster Commercial Shares: 69,426
20. Red Bull: Danny MacAskill’s Imaginate Shares: 50,141