The 10 most innovative Viral Video Ads of 2009

"2009’s crop of top viral video advertisements show us that people are willing to embrace a host of creative approaches on the social video Web, from beguiling mini-films, to user-generated advocacy, to YouTube celebrity endorsers, to elaborate commercial-grade productions. That’s good news for creators. Regardless of the approach, the key for marketers is a solid understanding of what a brand is, who is the brand’s audience, and what moves them. Strangely enough, this formula sounds like traditional advertising. This year’s Top 10 is certainly a glimpse of how the viral video ad business is evolving, and as marketers, what we can learn from that evolution." – Josh Warner, Feed Company

1. Inspired Bicycles

Advertiser: Inspired Bicycles
Ad Agency: N/A
Why it works: Inspired Bicycles’ team rider Danny MacAskill scales fences in and around Edinburgh, Scotland. The video is as mesmerizing as its hypnotic soundtrack from music group Band of Horses. It’s a solid example of how a brand pursuing a niche market – mountain bike trailblazers – can reach the masses with a brilliant viral video execution.


Advertiser: Schweppes
Ad Agency: Publicis Mojo and @RadicalMedia
Why it works: A love story with few words, Signs compels you to watch until its poignant end. It conclusively dispels the myth that viral video executions must be short and gimmicky to grab your attention.

3. Piano Stairs

Advertiser: Volkswagen
Ad Agency: DDB Stockholm
Why it works: “Take the stairs instead of the escalator and feel better” is something we hear but didn’t often see until this sly video from Volkswagen appeared on the Web. It’s part of an inspiring campaign, The Fun Theory, that encourages people to come up with fun ways to “do good.” The video itself did well indeed, imbuing Volkswagen with a fun new ethos and racking up millions of views in the process.

4. BooneOakley.com

Advertiser: Boone Oakley
Ad Agency: Boone Oakley
Why it works: Boone Oakley, an ad agency from Charlotte, North Carolina, uses an interactive YouTube video to tell its story and showcase client work. Audacious and attention-getting, it puts the young company on the short list of ad agencies who get it.

5. Hosting Your Party

Advertiser: Microsoft
Ad Agency: N/A
Why it works: This is the ultimate anti-viral: a video that generates millions of views simply because of how profoundly it misses the mark. Comments have been disabled, but all you have to do is talk to someone you know who’s watched it to know why it was so generously passed around.

6. YouTube HD Camera Trick Challenge

Advertiser: Samsung
Ad Agency: Viral Factory
Why it works: One cunning way to get people talking about and sharing your video is to make them wonder how you shot it in the first place. Samsung went to great lengths to protect the “trick” in the video for their new HD camera phone, which got tech geeks riled up to try solving the puzzle. Geeks happen to be the audience most likely to buy the HD new camera phone, which is why this video makes our Top 10.

7. United Breaks Guitars

Advertiser: Dave Carroll
Ad Agency: N/A
Why it works: A traumatic experience for one flyer becomes a public relations disaster for United Airlines, when musician Dave Carroll uses a YouTube video to vent frustrations after his guitar is damaged at Chicago O’Hare airport. The takeaway: Viral video is a wonderful tool for consumer advocacy because chances are you’re not the only one who is upset. In this case, United was inundated with additional complaints after United Breaks Guitars.

8. All the Single Babies

Advertiser: singlebabies.com
Ad Agency: User Generated
Why it works: The huge popularity of this video, a baby dancing to a Beyonce song, is channeling ad revenue and donations into his college fund. This quick reaction to a YouTube hit shows us the toddler’s dad has moves of his own — something sluggish advertisers can learn from.

9. Guy Catches Laptop with His Butt

Advertiser: MSI Computers
Ad Agency: N/A
Why it works: In much the way Airplane parodies disaster films, this cheeseball video spoofs last year’s viral video hit Ray-Ban’s Guy Catches Glasses with Face. The inside joke is why we picked the video for this year’s Top 10. If you’re not on the web, you don’t get it. But for the millions who saw Ray-Ban’s video, it’s a wink and a nod, and an ironic sign that the viral video medium is maturing (or not).

10. JK Wedding Dance

Advertiser: Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz
Ad Agency: N/A
Why it works: A couple’s wedding entourage dances down the aisle to Chris Brown’s song “Forever,” springboarding this video into viral history (at least for ‘09). Instead of stripping the video of its music — something copyright owners are permitted to do on YouTube — Sony used its popularity to sell more Chris Brown albums



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