Just where is the line between music video and full-blown ad? If this month’s chart is anything to go by, it’s a question we are going to be asking more and more this year. Strutting its stuff in the number one spot is a video that could equally be argued as either. “La La La Brazil 2014”, starring features Colombian pop princess Shakira, was created by Danone to launch its new Activia range and School Meals initiative. Not that Danone has any doubts whether it’s a full-blown ad or not. It proudly announces the South American superstar’s support for the yoghurt brand’s new ‘Dare to Feel Good’ campaign, calling it a “commercial” and a “dance-themed creative”.
Of course, overt product placements are nothing new. Whether it’s celebs being 'caught out' in certain stores by those pesky paps to TV/movie scenes that incorporate a product’s new features, for decades we’ve seen A-listers flaunt their ‘tastes’ in return for hefty sponsors’ cheques. However, on the Unruly Viral Video Chart we’ve recently been seeing an increasing number of videos which could arguably be identified as both, including Fiat’s collaboration with Pitbull and Italian singer Arianna for “The FIAT Song” and Beyonce’s campaigns for H&M and Pepsi.
Such a move into so-called ‘trackvertising’ is not surprising for a growing horde of advertisers hungry to engage the social web. Music videos are by far the most shared video content on the web, after all, so it’s only natural that brands looking to embrace their roles as content creators are mixing the two. But, of course, there’s more to Danone’s success than just a catchy tune. Launched in more than 50 countries, its two core themes of football and music are capable of breaking down any geographical and cultural barriers. Featuring a cast of international footballers, samba dancers, cascades of world flags and football imagery, it’s easy to see the attraction for a worldwide audience eagerly awaiting the World Cup.
Music to the ears of advertisers, no doubt, and certainly Danone. The hits don’t lie, the video attracted 1.34 million shares last month, putting it well ahead of the ad in second place - Activision’s epic trailer for the latest chapter in its highly-successful Call of Duty franchise.
The commercial, which drew 568,520 shares last month, also boasts serious star power, this time casting Kevin Spacey as the main protagonist. Spacey is also evidently playing the exact same character he plays in the ever-popular TV show House of Cards (albeit dropping the ‘Foghorn Leghorn’ voice he applies for Frank Underwood) as he monologues about democracy, power and other evil guy things. For all its portent, our assumption is that the real game is less about American nation-building and adventurism in the 21st Century and probably more about blowing up bridges. And that’s fine too.
Two places down in fourth is another ad which taps into the globe’s current insatiable hunger for all things football. In the latest instalment of Samsung’s popular #GALAXY11 campaign, an alien invasion parallels the World Cup invading our television screens.
A fantasy team including soccer superstars Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo shows off its moves in a futuristic training montage that Rocky would be proud of ahead of a match against the space invaders. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how the campaign performs when all the talking is over and the action begins in earnest.
Messi also features in another football ad back in ninth, this time from official sponsor adidas. “The Dream”, created by TBWA LA, shows that even the best player on the planet endures a few sleepless nights worrying about work.
However, for all its star power (Manchester United star Robin Van Persie and Liverpool legend Luis Suarez also feature) the 110,602 shares it achieved last month was not enough to put it ahead of rival Nike, in fifth, or indeed yet another ‘prankvert’ in sixth place. Yep, just when you thought it was safe to go out once again, along comes another brand hoping to make members of the public look stupid. This time it’s Ubisoft in an amusing ad for its latest game WatchDogs. It shows customers looking for a quick phone repair getting a lot more than they bargained for, courtesy of a ‘special application’ from the vendor.
Those familiar with the action-adventure game, which features a hacker protagonist hijacking electronic devices with a smartphone, will get a serious kick seeing it’s innovative concept play out in real life. As the vendor demonstrates his application turning off streetlights, unlocking cars and emptying ATMs, his unsuspecting customers are prompted to give it a try - and nearly get themselves arrested in the process. The spot’s reveal nicely demonstrates the possibilities of the game, and as one prank victim remarks, ‘It would be nice to live in a world like that’. No argument there, but try telling that to the police...
Further down are two political videos which employed very different tactics to get younger voters across to vote in last month’s European elections. In 18th is a campaign from Sweden’s Social Democratic Youth League which delivers a thoughtful and emotional reminder of the power of democracy and the lingering vestiges of fascism.
It’s a far cry from the one pushed out by the Danish government, four places above it in 14th, which uses a NSFW cartoon to get the same message across to young voters.
Other new ads to feature in this month’s top 20 include a thought-provoking campaign from a UK charity which challenges the way we look at domestic violence and another Coke commercial which tries to spread a bit of happiness across the planet.
Top 20 Most Shared, Branded Video Ads During May 2014
- Activia: Shakira - La La La (Brazil 2014) - 1.34 million shares
- Activision: Call of Duty - Advanced Warfare Reveal Trailer - 568,520 shares
- Card Store: World’s Toughest Job - 476,246 shares
- Samsung: #GALAXY11 Training - 463,235 shares
- Nike: Winner Stays - 375,687 shares
- Ubisoft (Watchdogs): Amazing Street Hack - 207,631 shares
- P&G: What I See - 207,575 shares
- Spies Travel: Do It For Denmark - 143,108 shares
- adidas: The Dream - All In Or Nothing - 110,602 shares
- Disney (Frozen): Let It Go Sing-a-long - 104,113 shares
- Cornetto: Yalin - Yeniden - 94,140 shares
- Mankind: #ViolenceIsViolence - 80,369 shares
- Samsung: Smart Camera NX30 - Terrestrial Wonders Time-Lapse - 80,040 shares
- Danish Government: Voteman - 78,804 shares
- Chanel: The Colors - 70,833 shares
- GoPro: Lost In Peru - 73,824 shares
- Coca-Cola: Hello Happiness - 54,188 shares
- Swedish Social Democratic Youth League: Never Forget To Vote - 53,716 shares
- Thai Life Insurance: Unsung Hero - 53,029 shares
- CNA: Speaking Exchange - 52,726 shares
All date from Unruly's Global Ads Chart round-up