20 ads that went viral on YouTube

Social media has changed the nature of advertising. Companies target consumers through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Going viral used to be an organic process, now it’s part of a product’s campaign goals from the start.

Every now and then, though, an advert will completely surpass the expectations of the people behind it. The place where most of the videos are viewed, shared, commented on and viewed again is YouTube.

With this in mind, Memebeurn decided to have a look at 20 of the most popular adverts on the video-sharing platform.

  1. Volkswagen: The Force (43 107 313 views)

    A perfect storm of cuteness, product relevance and pop culture references, this ad first appeared in the halftime break of the 2011 Superbowl. Tiny Darth Vader certainly made me want to buy a Passat.

  2. Old Spice: The Man (36 163 048 Views)

    Ladies. Look at your keyboard. Now look at your screen. You’re watching a video. Of Isaiah Mustafa. The man your man could be (If he used Old Spice). Now the advert’s finished. Watch it again. I’m on a horse.

  3. T-Mobile: Liverpool Street Flashmob (31 330 000 Views)

    For anyone unfamiliar with London, Liverpool Street is one of the city’s biggest train stations. UK mobile carrier T-Mobile took it over and filmed one of the most dance-tastic adverts in history.

  4. Pepsi: Asian Monks (28 924 999 views)

    A Western child makes his way to a monastery in the mountains of Asia. Over the years he trains hard and learns the monks’ martial art secrets. All except the one behind the mysterious marks on their forehead. He passes his final exams and is ready to learn the final secret (They smash Pepsi cans with their heads). I don’t know about you but I love a little Western consumerism with my mystical experiences.

  5. Zazoo: Banned Condom Commercial (26 640 518 views)

    Your reaction to a child throwing a temper tantrum in a supermarket largely depends on whether or not you have any of your own. This ad is targeted at the kind of person who thanks any deities present for the existence of contraceptives. For the rest, like the father in the ad, it’s too late.

  6. Soesman Language Training: Learn English (26 289 895 views)

    Be warned — don’t play this out loud with your boss near. Unless they have a sense of humour and are okay with a fair amount of swearing. This ad confirms what we’ve always suspected: If you’re going to learn a new language, nail down the dirty bits first.

  7. Viagra: Dancing Old Man (24 506 562 views)

    These days commercials for “performance enhancing medication” tend to show happy, reinvigorated mature couples enjoying long walks in the park, or enjoying dinner with only the man’s knowing smirk telling you that something’s going to happen later. This advert comes from a simpler time when Viagra apparently allowed geriatrics to get down and break dance.

  8. Levi’s: Banned Jeans Commercial (24 187 854 views)

    Levi’s jeans have always been associated with a certain sense of rebellion. This ad takes that rebellion and runs with it. A woman, possibly criminal, definitely sexy hides in a men’s bathroom and changes clothes in a bid to hide her identity. A man, wearing dark glasses, taps his cane in the corner. The woman walks up to him and buttons up the fly on her Levis. If you know anything about dramatic irony you realised the guy in the glasses wasn’t blind the moment I mentioned him.

  9. The T-Mobile Royal Wedding (23 932 316 views)

    The second entry from T-Mobile took advantage of a meme and the most watched wedding in history. You’ve got to admit they hired some pretty good Royal Family lookalikes to dance down that aisle. T-Mobile’s overall message seems to be something along the lines of: Change to the super-fun dancing network now!

  10. Vodafone Live: Man on a Plane (23 797 312 views)

    Ladies, picture the man you’d least like to have next to you on a plane. Now imagine he snuck up and sat next to you while you were sleeping and started taking pictures on his camera phone. Imagine those photos were taken so as to suggest the two of you were a couple. This is, apparently, how you advertise an MMS service.

  11. Skin on Skin: Flavoured condom commercial (21 388 065 views)

    Flavoured condoms are good for a lot of things…so I’ve heard. Being able to pretend that it’s bubble gum when your girlfriend’s authoritarian parents walk in on you probably is not among the more well-known of them.

  12. Centraal Beheer Insurance: Adam and Eve (20 966 699 views)

    This is another banned ad. It’s easy to see why too. Eve wanders through a biblical Eden to be met by a muscle-bound Adam, who turns out to be gay. Actually that’s understating it somewhat. He turns out to be a walking, talking stereotype of campiness. It’s difficult to decide who this offended more. Christians who believe in the biblical account of creation or the gay community.

  13. Budweiser Beer: 2007 Super Bowl ad (15 980 215 views)

    Ah, what could be better than ending of a night of romance than a skinny dip in a hotel pool, with no one else around? If the fine people at Budweiser are to be believed—being the people behind the window at the bottom of the pool, suddenly confronted by a skinny-dipping couple.

  14. Nike: Good vs. Evil Soccer (14 775 676 views)

    The Colleseum is transformed into a football field for a match of supernatural proportions. A group of football superstars from the 90s take on a horde of Satan’s best players. Who all look rather like a cross between Vinnie Jones and Hannibal Lecter.

  15. Kenwood Sound: Staying Alive (14 344 534 views)

    Ever used your car’s pumping audio system to try and deter a hearse driver from flirting with you? Well the woman in this ad did and she ended up with a reanimated corpse in her car. Brings a new meaning to the phrase “Loud enough to wake the dead”, doesn’t it?

  16. TAC Campaign: 20 Year Anniversary retrospective montage (13 236 325 views)

    An advert doesn’t always have to be funny to be popular. Released in 2009, this is a look back at 20 years of adverts from the Transport Accident Commission dealing with drunk driving. Set to REM’s “Everybody Hurts“, this ad is a sobering reminder of our responsibilities as drivers. Be warned though, some of the clips are pretty graphic.

  17. Chrysler: Eminem Super Bowl ad (12 876 768 views)

    Watch enough Michael Moore documentaries and you’ll believe that Detroit is a once glorious city gone to ruin. If the good people at Chrysler are to be believed this is completely wrong. The Detroit they see, it seems, is one with very little traffic, choirs singing in abandoned theatres an omnipresent Eminem soundtrack.

  18. Nissan Pathfinder (11 833 069 views)

    Nissan demonstrates the independent front end suspension of its Pathfinder SUV with um…breasts. Guess the company decided to be incredibly particular with its target market for this particular vehicle.

  19. Heineken: The man closet (11 191 362 views)

    A woman is giving her friends a tour of her new house, they’re all duly impressed. The real excitement, though comes when she unveils her walk in closet. Their screams of excitement are suddenly drowned out by those of a group of men. Cut to the men, in a walk in fridge filled with Heineken. Stereotypes are great.

  20. Rejoice: Hair Conditioner (11 056 722 views)

    A man lovingly strokes his girlfriend’s hair. One problem though, her hair’s so smooth that his hands end up sliding onto her breasts. Where they stay… for a really long time. Apparently the only force capable of removing them is a slap to the face. What is Rejoice putting in its products? I’m intrigued.



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