Trigger Happy Series: The Most Shared Ads of 2012

05.12.2012 by David Waterhouse
Olympics, Best Job, Olympic Ad, P&G,

Each week the Trigger Happy Series studies the hottest social video ads of the week, analysing what is it about their content that gets users sharing.

This week, following the launch of Unruly’s most shared ads of 2012, we look at the hottest ads of the year in more detail. But what makes an ad popular across the web?

Well, recent research, carried out in conjunction with our research partners the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, has found that the ads that attract the most shares are the ones that elicit the strongest emotions, from the rib-ticklingly funny and heart-warmingly cute to the knee-knockingly terrifying.

In other words, online audiences don’t just share the things that interest them, they share the things that move them.

After all, it’s not just enough to gently guide a viewer to your product, advertisers have to take their audiences on an epic rollercoaster ride of emotional highs or lows. It’s these ads that illicit the emotional reactions that drive audiences to share content.

So let’s take a look at 2012’s most shared ads and examine whether they had audiences grinning from ear to ear, wiping their eyes or tearing their hair out.

10. PBS Studios: Mister Rogers Remixed


Shares: 1,045,039

Nostalgia: A loving remix that celebrates the TV shows of Mister Rogers. While many of the sharing audience won’t have grown up watching Rogers, the remix makes the stock footage accessible to all, becoming a tribute to whatever educational programmes that we do have fond memories of.



9. Volkswagen: The Bark Side


Shares: 1,127,479

Warmth: Unquestionably cool, this pre-Super Bowl teaser was supposed to whet viewers’ appetite for a longer Star Wars-themed ad on game day. Instead the simple cuteness of this ad’s doggy choir ‘singing’ the iconic Imperial March was the clip that set tails wagging.



8. Chevrolet: OK Go - Needing/Getting


Shares: 1,140,769

Inspirational: The sheer originality of the performance blew audiences away as the band find increasingly elaborate ways to use the car as an instrument. The stunts keep pace with the music, creating a toe-tapping adrenaline rush. Unruly’s research shows that this is a departure for the autos industry, a market that usually relies heavily on humour.



7. Melbourne Metro: Dumb Ways To Die


Shares: 1,217,751

Amusement: Cartoon critters meet their messy ends in another musical clip that mixes horrendous violence with Mr Men-like characters and a cutesy-indie soundtrack. The clip is actually a safety message, warning viewers about the dangers surrounding railways. The undeniably dense creatures find hilariously horrific ways to kill themselves without ever losing their big silly grins. We recommend watching it a few times to catch all the jokes.



6. Dancesport Studio: Two-Year-Old Dancing The Jive


Shares: 2,094,766

Warmth: Also hitting the cute button, but thankfully without any injuries, tiny William Stokkebroe strutted his stuff to Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock. Filmed on a mobile phone by his parents, their decision to use the footage to advertise their dance studio certainly paid off thanks to the youngster’s incredible skill and broad appeal. Stokkebroe is clearly enjoying himself, imitating the grown-up performers. He might only be little, but he’s become a massive star.



5. P&G: Best Job


Shares: 2,227,528

Happiness: P&G’s ode to motherly love hit the web in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics, becoming a universal anthem that transcended national boundaries. The heart-warming clip continues a theme set by the brand at the 2010 Winter Olympics, in which they proclaim themselves “proud sponsors of mums”. Stimulating happiness by inviting viewers to share the success of fictional athletes, the ad also elicited high levels of inspiration and warmth.



4. DC Shoes: Gymkhana 5


Shares: 2,292,354

Exhilaration: The fifth instalment of Ken Block’s ever-popular, high-octane stunt showcase, the clip sees the rally driver tearing up the streets of San Francisco with a routine of ever-more impressive and daring stunts that will have viewers holding onto their screens in white-knuckled terror.



3. Abercrombie & Fitch: Call Me Maybe


Shares: 2,435,774

Sexual Arousal: The fashion retail giant cut together footage filmed by their models around the world. Shirtless, perfectly-chiselled male models strut around their respective cities miming along to the oft-covered pop hit Call Me Maybe. The lads’ adonis-like bodies aren’t paired with musical talent, but the parade of muscles and winning smiles raised eyebrows, pulses and share numbers.



2. TNT: A Dramatic Surprise On A Quiet Square


Shares: 4,352,283

Surprise: The clue might be in the title, but watching a sleepy Belgian town explode into life at the touch of a big red button does grab viewers’ attention. It’s not just the vehicle crashes, the gun battle or the lingerie-clad bikers that will leave your head spinning, it’s the eerie silence that marks the ending as everything returns to normal.



1. Invisible Children: Kony 2012


Shares: 10,068,928

Inspiration: The biggest social video ad of 2012, there is no doubt that Kony broke the mould.  At nearly 30 minutes in length, the clip is part ad and part documentary, presenting its case with cool clarity and waiting until near the end to call users to action. With Kony 2012’s epic length, Invisible Children, the organisation behind it, recognised that every second had to be compelling. As a result, the clip is an emotional rollercoaster that turns a message of tragedy and despair into an empowering one of inspiration and hope.

Using Warmth and Happiness in an opening which stars Invisible Children founder Jason Russell introducing his young son, the film provides a contrast to the heart-breaking tales of suffering that follow to stimulate both Shock and Sadness. Carefully limiting the horrific stories to avoid leaving the audience numb, Kony 2012 explains the causes of the trouble in Uganda.

By introducing Joseph Kony after the human cost of his crimes, the clip manages to stimulate Anger while also delivering some easily digestible Knowledge about the international community’s response.

Kony 2012 returns to the positive it started on, with messages of hope and Inspiration, calling viewers to join the already influential ranks of Invisible Children supporters and help improve the lives of young people in Uganda.

It’s been an emotional year for advertisers, with lots of strong examples of emotive content driving users to share ads. There’s plenty brands can learn from 2012 in planning the coming year’s campaigns. To see what the right content can do for you check out Unruly’s Social Video Lab and book a tour to get yours tested. 

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