The Top 10 Branded Viral Videos from 2012

by Jason Keath on Jan 09, 2013

Article contributed to by Nick Cicero (@nickcicero)

Ok, let’s get something out of the way right now.

We love PSY and Gangnam Style. It is clearly one of the biggest viral videos of all time. Even the most Youtube views ever, sorry Bieber.

But for this 2012 list we wanted to take a look at the biggest “branded” viral videos of the year. Videos that were pushing a brand or product of some sort and still got shared. That is a little harder than getting a music video out there.

But yeah we still love PSY.

So let’s get to the popcorn making (relevant reference as you will see below). Let’s everyone get our KONY posters out, extend our DollarShaveClub memberships, and “push this button for drama.”

Or in other words, let’s relive some of top branded viral videos of the year and rejoice in a hearty round of “why didn’t I think of that.”

1. KONY 2012

This short film (or long Viral Video?), created by Invisible Children, is an example of how longer form content can still go viral. Shares from top celebrities and a massive existing email list earned this highly-produced video, which urges support for their organization’s mission in Africa, nearly 100 Million views on Youtube alone. The rebroadcast value from news organizations picking up the story made this spread across the world.

Kony was by far the most shared viral video

2. Dollar Shave Club

Thsi $4,500 short and simple video took a new “shave tech” company and launched it out of the blocks like a rocket. With 8 million views in the 10 months since it first aired in March, 2012, the DollarShaveClub formula should not be ignored. Their budget may have been small, but the talent behind the video knew what they were doing with years of comedy improv and video production under their belts.

The results were 12,000 new members in the first 48 hours alone. And in November 2012, they raised almost $10 million in Series A funding, allowing them to expand the business internationally.

3. TNT – “Push for Drama”

Everyone likes pressing buttons. I mean, we all know you are going to press the Like button on this article for instance. No, seriously, go ahead. I will wait here…

In the quiet main street that is a dry day on the internet, viral videos bring a little mayhem in our lives. And so, in that same spirit, TNT Belgium put a “Push To Add Drama” button in a quiet town square. And since we all like buttons, everyone walks up, presses it, and instantly becomes part of a brilliant scene of chaos and crime and, well, drama.

Who knows if the live action of this video is real or not, I don’t really care. The end product is brilliant and made it all around the world.

4. The Popinator — Popcorn Indiana

Popcorn Indiana went to viral video shop ThinkModo to get a PR lift and they were not disappointed. You probably saw this new tech gadget called the Popinator on your local TV news, on Facebook, or even on CNN back in September 2012. The Popinator was a voice activated Popcorn delivery system that would launch a single kernel of popcorn at your mouth when you said the word “Pop.”

The video racked up a couple million views, but bigger than that, it got a ton of real world press mentions from Jimmy Fallon to Fox News to Engadget, and hundreds more. The gadget was not really a fully functional device. But the video was so successful the brand is said to be considering making it a reality.

5. Muscle Music – Old Spice

Old Spice viral videos have of course been on our radar before. This one is on the list more because of innovation than viral views. Old Spice took their current commercial campaign to Vimeo and created an interactive music video that is as addictive as it is entertaining. After the one minute video you can control the music. Press a key to play an instrument once, hold a key to let it repeat, press it again to stop.

Record your creation and share it with a loved one this Valentine’s day. Or burn it, your call.

6. Getty Images: From Love to Bingo

We have seen plenty of stop animation videos, but I am not sure if we have seen a Stock Image animation video before. Stock image seller, Getty Images, pulled together over 800 images, all unrelated to one another, to tell the story of a couple meeting, loving, living, a loss, and more. Very clever and very well done.

7. Children’s Theatre Workshop: Cookie Monster, Call Me Maybe

The Call Me Maybe parody video was in full force this year. And Sesame Street could hardly refuse Cookie Monster when he asked if he could record his own unique version.

8. Melbourne Metro Trains: Dumb Ways to Die

What do you do if you want to remind the public how dangerous trains are? Easy, kill off a bunch of singing cartoon characters in a lighthearted and very dark song and dance number. 36 million views as of today. It is hard to get past how ODD this video is, but you have to think at least a few lives will be saved along the way.

9. Fiat: Motherhood

Fiat UK targeted hip moms everywhere with their ‘Motherhoo’ rap. The lyrics pull no punches and it is likely NSFW, but the entertainment quality is unquestionable.

10. Pepsi Max: Uncle Drew

A simple basketball court, where an unsuspecting pick-up game gets schooled by the older, grey-haired “Uncle Drew.” After missing a few shots, and some shots of the crowd enjoying their refreshing Pepsi Max, Uncle Drew begins to outplay everyone on the court. Of course Uncle Drew is really Cavs rookie Kyrie Irving with a lot of makeup, some padding, and a bit of limp added on for good measure.


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As the CEO and founder of Social Fresh, Jason is the lead analyst and consultant for all Social Fresh brand clients. Jason has 15+ years of experience as a marketing leader and focuses on how to help brands be more...