Viral video marketing case studies: the 25 best virals of 2015

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From mystery X-rays to disobedient dogs, 2015 was another big year for video viral marketing case studies. Marketing stunts, long-form storytelling and cute animals (naturally) featured heavily this year. Perhaps more telling was the number of ads seeded on Facebook rather than YouTube, as the social network becomes the go-to place for sharing videos. To round off the year, we’ve assembled our 25 favourite virals from around the world for your viewing pleasure…

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Video viral case study: Love Has No Labels: How mystery X-rays caused an internet phenomenon

(55m YouTube views)

Winner of 8 Cannes Lions, this public service announcement challenges us to open our eyes to our bias and prejudice. The ad, created by the Ad Council, R/GA, Unilever and other corporate and non-profit partners, shows that when advertising gets a message right, it can spread like wildfire. The poignant three-minute YouTube video set up a giant X-ray screen in Santa Monica, California, on Valentine’s Day. It found real people of different genders, abilities and sexual orientations and had them perform little dances behind the screen. The ad helped people realise that everyone holds biases, even if they aren’t aware of them.

Video viral case study: Android ‘Friends Furever’ becomes most shared viral ever

(20m YouTube views)

In February 2015, Google’s Android ramped up the cuteness overload for its follow up ad to ‘Be Together, Not The Same’. But by pairing unlikely animals, the mobile operating system drove home a powerful message that helped it become the most shared ad ever. Directed by Agency Droga5, each clip in the montage features unconventional pairs of animals: dogs and elephants, chimps and horses, even tigers and bears. Besides the obvious 'aww' value, where Android succeeds is in producing a spot that exists simultaneously as a charming, shareable piece of content and an extension of its brand messaging.

Video viral case study: Loctite gambles entire year’s budget on one Super Bowl ad

(1m YouTube views)

Straight out of left field, Loctite's first-ever Super Bowl ad succeeded in getting people to talk about the brand. The 52-year old glue brand spent its entire annual budget on one Super Bowl commercial- priced at $4.5m for a 30 second slot. The ad managed to win big on Twitter by playing to the Internet's collective fondness for all things offbeat. By November 2015, the short and long versions of the ad had been viewed a million times on YouTube in total.

Video viral case study: Coke removes labels from cans in Ramadan campaign

(18m YouTube views)

Coca-Cola cans in the Middle East were stripped of their labels during Ramadan, as part of a campaign to 'combat prejudice'. The accompanying YouTube video showed the misconceptions that can arise from prejudice. A group of strangers were invited to bond with each other over dinner, but in the dark, filmed (with infrared cameras) discussing their lives, hobbies and interests, and when the lights go up express their surprise at the people they were talking to.

Video viral case study: Game of Thrones- The Musical gets 15m views

(15m YouTube views)

“Wildling/ You make my heart sing!” With its copious measures of sex, violence and bad language, you’d think Game of Thrones wasn’t suited to a Broadway musical format. And you’d be right. But this spoof video in aid of USA Comic Relief, that paired Coldplay’s Chris Martin with the cast of the hit HBO fantasy series, proved a massive hit on the internet, getting 15 million views.

Video viral case study: Viral prank surprises shoppers by showing their 'Disney side'

(5m YouTube views)

What happens when Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Ana, Elsa, Olaf, Cinderella, Buzz Lightyear and other Disney Characters magically surprise unsuspecting shoppers? This viral video from Disney caused a huge buzz in February 2015, getting 5 million YouTube views in the process.

Video viral case study: McDonald's ‘Pay With Lovin’ and Twitter ad break giveaways

(200,000 YouTube views)

At the 2015 Super Bowl, McDonald's certainly took the prize for most innovative digital aspect of a campaign, with a two-pronged social media strategy to get people engaging with the brand while watching the game. The fast food chain used its 2015 ad to announce that it will let random customers pay with funny and heart-warming gestures rather than cash. This was followed up with tweets that pledged to giveaway all other products advertised during each ad break- from Toyota cars to superglue.

Video viral case study: Barbie targets young parents with new campaign

(16m YouTube views)

Barbie is already hugely popular with young girls everywhere, but for their new ad campaign toy manufacturer Mattel is targeting young parents. Mattel has created a yearlong ad campaign aimed at young parent, launched with the “Imagine the possibilities” video which has gone viral. amassing over 16 million views on YouTube.

Video viral case study: Durex #connect promotes digital ‘off button’

(38m YouTube views)

In March 2015, Durex launched a new social media campaign that encouraged couples to spice up their love lives by switching off their smartphones. In the video, couples are shown a this brand new solution that can help them pay more attention to their partners and reconnect with them. After much hype the innovation is revealed to simply be the off button. The #Connect campaign was one of the biggest of the year, getting 38m YouTube views.

Video viral case study: Geico wins top prize for ‘unskippable’ pre-roll ads

(8m YouTube views)

All too often, YouTube ads are not tailored to pre-roll, meaning that viewers are likely to skip because they are given little incentive to continue watching. Turning this on it shead, US car insurance firm Geico generated 725,000 unaided YouTube views in one day by playing on the format, winning the 2015 Canes Lions Grand Prix in the process.

Video viral case study: Controversial ‘Slap Her’ experiment tackles domestic violence (and gets 30m views)

(30m YouTube views)

One of the most viewed videos of 2015, this Italian ad from Facebook page Fanpage certainly provoked discussion in its attempts to tackle domestic violence through a controversial social media experiment. Boys are told to slap a girl, but all refuse to hit her. The ad has faced criticism for oversimplifying the problem of domestic abuse, but it still contained a powerful anti-violence message.

Video viral case study: Pandora experiment shows unique connection between mother and child

(17m YouTube views)

How well do children know their own mothers? To celebrate Mother’s Day 2015, Pandora Jewelry launched a new spot that put this to the test in this heart-warming viral video that garnered 17 million YouTube views.

Video viral case study: Dirt bike surfing waves creates internet sensation for DC Shoes

(20m YouTube views)

DC Shoes' video of stunt rider Robbie Maddison riding giant waves in Tahiti on a converted dirt bike became one of the most shared video virals of the year, getting 20 million YouTube views.

Video viral case study: Cristiano Ronaldo surprises town square in ROC headphones stunt

(13m YouTube views)

Cristiano Ronaldo, the biggest athlete in the world is hiding in plain sight. Would you have noticed? This viral marketing prank for fashion headphones ROC Live Life Hard, became one of the most shared ads of the year as a mystery footballer dazzled a Spanish town square.

Video viral case study: Heart-wrenching Met Life ad shows sacrifices parents make

(33m YouTube and Facebook views)

This tear-jerking ad from MetLife Hong Kong is a tribute to the sacrifices parents make for their children on a daily basis. The ad became hugely popular on YouTube, getting 27 million YouTube and Facebook Video views for the life insurance firm.

Video viral case study: Purina gets puppy love with Buzzfeed powered campaign

(8m YouTube views)

In July 2015, Pet food brand Purina teamed up with Buzzfeed to show the unbreakable bond between man and puppy, earning 8 million YouTube views with a strong story-telling campaign. Shot inexpensively with an improv-heavy style, the spot follows a mustachioed protagonist learning to love his new puppy that he finds at the pet shop, creating create brand (and puppy) love.

Video viral case study: Provocative Adidas ‘haters’ ad gets 1.5m views on first day

(20m YouTube views)

Luis Suarez is a controversial footballer- so how do you sell a sports brand on his image? This new Adidas' takes a bold move to embrace the ‘haters'... which definately paid off. Featuring Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez, James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema, the video, titled 'There will be haters', got over 1.5 million views in a single day. The footballers ask their haters to 'bring it on' in the video which describes exactly what people hate about them.

Video viral case study: John Lewis Christmas ad premieres on YouTube

(18m YouTube views)

Now a staple of the UK festive calendar, this year's John Lewis annual Christmas ad premiered on YouTube, ahead of its first terrestrial showing, a sign that more brands are putting digital first. The UK retailer spent £7m on the moon-based tear-jearker, with a campaign that included a smartphone game and merchandise, The department store also used its profile to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for Age UK.

Video viral case study: Kleenex ‘Unlikely Best Friends’ creates Facebook buzz

(55m Facebook Video views)

This tale of a disabled puppy and his relationship with his owner, took the social web by storm, building a huge new Facebook following for Kleenex. The Kimberly-Clark tissues brand posted a Facebook video featuring Chance, a dog with a disability who is adopted by Michael, who like the dog had lost the use of his legs, and “Chance” became the unlikely best friends. The Facebook page has attracted over 26 million comments, many sharing similar stories.

Unlikely Best Friends

A man finds companionship in a dog that faces the same struggles as he does. By giving him a chance, the two overcome life’s obstacles together. Kleenex.com/messagesofcare

Posted by Kleenex on Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Video viral case study: Cadbury’s embarks on search for new Milk Tray man

(1m YouTube views)

To mark the 100th anniversary of the iconic chocolate selection box, Cadbury's ran a new social media camapign to find a new Milk Tray man. This spoof ‘boot camp’ series on social media, featuring Joey Essex, Made in Chelsea's Spencer Matthews, athlete Denise Lewis and Shaun Williamson (Also known as Barry from Eastenders) generated a huge amount of interest in the UK with its affectionate lampooning of the 60's brand icon.

Video viral case study: Toyota reunites Marty and Doc for 'Back to the Future' day

(9m combined YouTube views)

To co-incide with ‘Back to the Future Day’, Toyota reunited the stars of the film to discuss what the sequel got right (and wrong) about life in 2015. The promote the launch of Toyota’s Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the car maker put out a teaser video on YouTube featuring Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd discussing how the films futuristic predictions compared to the real 2015.

Video viral case study: Burger King to McDonald’s: Let’s make a ‘McWhopper’ for peace

(2m YouTube views)

In a novel marketing stunt, Burger King has invited McDonald's to put aside rivalries for just one day, and make a 'McWhopper' for World Peace Day. But all did not gone to plan as its larger rival refused to bite the bait. However, a group of chains including Denny’s, Krystal, Wayback Burgers, and Giraffas came forward to take up Burger King's idea of a mash-up burger for World Peace Day.

Video viral case study: Clash of the Clans wins Super Bowl with Liam Neeson Taken spoof

(80m YouTube Views)

One of the big Super Bowl ads to air during half-time was a hilarious bit featuring Liam Neeson spoofing his super-spy role in Taken, Bryan Mills. The ad went on to become a massive hit on YouTube, getting 80 million views for SuperCell’s Clash of the Clans mobile game.

Video viral case study: Sainsbury wakes up Mog the cat for Christmas Calamity

(18m YouTube views)

A year after its controversial advert showing a Christmas Day truce on the Western Front, Sainsbury's called upon the powers of children's writer Judith Kerr to create a heart-warming Christmas ad that rivaled John Lewis' festive campaign.

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