In 2013, online video continued to play an increasingly key role in brand communications. A report from the Pew Research Center found that 78% of internet users 18 and older watched or downloaded videos in 2013. The figure jumps to 95% for those aged 18 to 29.
Faced with such increased growth in online video consumption, many brands took to YouTube to drive brand awareness and social media success. Throughout 2013, brands delivered a steady stream of content in the hopes of creating the next viral video. In our eyes, these are the four that did it best:
WestJet Christmas Miracle: real time giving: The number one spot goes to WestJet Airlines for its real-time giving holiday video. This video, which went live on December 8th, has reached more than 31 million views. For the sake of comparison, the company’s 2012 Christmas Miracle flash mob video has received about 1 million views since premiering last year.
The reason for this unparalleled success? WestJet created a timely and emotional tie to the audience. The holiday season means travel for many of us, and this Canadian airliner made its name very well-known virtually overnight by producing a video about giving back during the holidays. The viral success and media coverage since the video premiered has endeared the WestJet brand across the internet and with consumers who had never previously heard of the airline. And by involving employees in the process, the company bolstered its brand internally during a time of year when many of those same individuals are working long and daunting hours.
By combining creativity, generosity, employee engagement and seasonal cheer, WestJet created a viral video which many brands can emulate as an example of successful branded content.
Dove Real Beauty Sketches: Dove’s company vision states that it is “committed to building positive self-esteem and inspiring all women and girls to reach their full potential.” Dove stayed true to this vision throughout this video, which examines just how self-critical people can be. In the video, a forensic sketch artist draws two sketches of women without ever laying eyes on them. For the first sketch, he draws the women as they describe themselves. For the second sketch, he draws the women as described by people who had recently engaged with them in pleasant conversation.
At the end of the video, the women are presented with both sketches. The images resulting from input from others appear warmer, happier, and do a much better job capturing the natural beauty of the women. The video is a brilliant embodiment of Dove’s company vision as the emotional video reminds people that they are more beautiful than they believe. Since its releas on YouTube on April 14th, the video has received nearly 61 million hits, making it one of the most successful branded videos of 2013.
Volvo Trucks – The Epic Split featuring Van Damme: Volvo’s video demonstrates the power of both absurd humor and spectacle in brand marketing. The video, set against music by Enya, features action star Jean Claude Van Damme performing “the most epic of splits” while perched upon the side mirrors of two Volvo trucks driving in reverse. While that description may seem ludicrous, it pales in comparison to the visual itself.
Volvo says the “test was set up to demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo Dynamic Steering.” Seeing as how Van Damme survived the test unharmed and the video has become a viral phenomenon, it is fair to say the company’s test was a success. The video received almost seven million views on its first day alone, and has since tallied more than 62 million views, becoming the most viewed automotive commercial ever to appear on YouTube. In addition, the video has been the subject of, according to Volvo, approximately 20,000 editorial pieces online. By giving viewers a spectacle worth being shared across social media networks, Volvo cemented itself as one of the most talked about brands of 2013.
Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise: While most viral videos striking an emotional chord seek to make viewers happy, this video sought to scare us. The coffee shop surprise video, released as a promotion for the remake of the horror movie “Carrie,” utilized stunts and special effects to create the idea of a telekinetic woman running amok in a public space. Innocent bystanders were terrorized on camera, their every reaction recorded for the world to see on YouTube.
While the film “Carrie” received mixed reviews from critics and underperformed at the box office, the video was a viral success for Sony. Released on October 8th, the prank video received over 3 million views in 24 hours and has since drawn more than 51 million views.
We’re curious to know — what were your favorite viral videos of 2013? Share your thoughts in the comments.