1. Google Android: “Friends Furever”

Android’s “Friends Furever” video is simple, cute, totally curated — and was the most-shared video ad of 2015.

While the curation probably took a while, there wasn’t much original content creation going on here — it’s really just a series of clips of unlikely animals palling around together. Who doesn’t want to see a parrot feeding spaghetti to a husky? Or a monkey climbing onto (and promptly falling off of) a horse’s back? And yet, the video was shared more than 6.4 million times, according to video ad tech company Unruly.

Even the simplest of videos can be super shareable with the right subject matter. In this case, that subject matter is animals, which the folks at Android used to focus on shared experiences. By tapping into viewers’ emotions, the video has built-in broad appeal and sharability.


  1. Dove: “Choose Beautiful”

Dove does it again. While this video marketing campaign by Ogilvy & Mather Chicago received some mixed reviews when it was first released, there is no denying that Dove is adept at crafting stories and encouraging their community to participate in those stories.

By focusing less on their product and more on their mission, Dove has been successful in creating emotional viral videos that have helped them stay top-of-mind.

Think about tying your marketing to a larger mission to cultivate a loyal following. According to research conducted by Scott Magids, Alan Zorfas, and Daniel Leemon, customers who are “fully connected” emotionally to a brand spend twice as much on average than customers categorized as “highly satisfied.” Take advantage of this by committing to emotionally-charged marketing that makes customers feel recognized and important.

  1. Facebook: “Tips” Series

In this video marketing series, Facebook presents 12 different functions of the platform as they relate to real-life user scenarios, such as the need to turn notifications off, add a friend to a group, unfollow your oversharing friend, or use a sticker to express feelings that don’t quite translate into words.

While the tutorials are tied directly to Facebook’s product, they’re not pitchy. Instead, they aim to provide answers to users’ most common questions in an entertaining and lighthearted way. It doesn’t hurt that they’re also simple to follow and clock in at only 20 seconds long.

Understand your audience’s needs better than anyone else, and play to them in your videos. In addition, don’t mistake “longer” for “better” — if your message can be expressed in just a few seconds, don’t drag out the length of your video unnecessarily.


  1. Intel: “Meet the Makers” Series

Intel’s five-part “Meet the Makers” series looks more like the inspirational, uplifting stories you see on the news rather than videos created by a brand. Each video profiles a person around the world who uses Intel products to create amazing experiences and new technology.

In this video, for example, a 13-year-old named Shubham Banerjee tells the story of how he used Intel’s technology to prototype and build an affordable braille printer to help more people who are blind read.

The common denominator? The folks in these videos use technology to help people and make the world a better and more interesting place. By providing viewers with an inspirational look at how technology is changing our experiences, they were able to drum up interest in a way that a traditional, product-centric advertisement couldn’t.

Think in terms of macro and micro in your video marketing. Evaluate the macro effect that your product or service is having on your industry or the world as a whole, and then hone in on someone’s micro experience to deliver a relatable and compelling story.


  1. Artifact Uprising: “On Legacy”

Artifact Uprising is a company that helps you create custom photo books, albums, cards, and print photos. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of special meaning and emotion connected to each book — and that kind of emotion is hard to capture with just words.

That’s exactly why Artifact Uprising creates videos like this one: to showcase some of those touching, individual stories. In this case, it’s an elderly man who created a photo book to leave his children and grandchildren as part of his legacy. At one point, the man is moved to tears as he reads the book, saying, “I haven’t read it [in] a while.”

Find out how people are using your product or service to better their lives, and share their inspiring stories with the world through video. They’ll do a much better job of advocating for your product or service’s value than a piece of purely fact-based marketing content ever could.

6.     Virgin – Seize the Holiday

Live video has quickly become a trend in the digital world, and this ad from Virgin Holidays jumped on that trend with great effect.

The video is brilliantly choreographed with amazing activities from several global destinations shown in quick succession.

The live aspect isn’t a gimmick either; it demonstrates that there is a whole world out there, just waiting for you to “Seize the Holiday”. It also quickly shows off all the possibilities in the destinations serviced by Virgin Holidays.

7.     Pret A Manger – Little Veggie Shop

This ad might not seem as exciting and flashy as some of the others listed here, but I’ve chosen it for a very sound reason. Pret asked their customers for insight and acted on the answer.

The campaign started with an online poll asking if customers would support vegan stores. The results encouraged them to turn a central London store into a Little Veggie Pop-up.

A lot of brands say vote for a change, when they’ve already made up their mind. It is just lazy. If customers are good enough to give you their time, you need to listen.

The store ended up increasing profits and delivering on an idea that their customers wanted. In fact, it was so popular it went from a temporary to a permanent store, with popular recipes making their way into other Pret stores.

Image: Pret a Manger

1.     Under Armour – Rule Yourself

This ad focuses on its star rather than the brand. That’s easily done when you have Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time.

It’s beautifully shot, with only occasional flashes of the Under Armour logo as Phelps trains. It highlights the hard work and determination needed to be successful, with the implication being that if Under Armour is good enough for someone that puts this much effort into their training, it’s probably good enough for little old you.

2.     Airbnb/Art Institute of Chicago

Another visually stunning ad, this time a collaboration between Airbnb and The Art Institute of Chicago. They recreated Van Gogh’s famous bedroom to highlight an exhibition of all three versions of the painting.

It’s an innovative collaboration that saw great publicity for both the art gallery and the homestay network.

3.     OK Go & Morton Salt – One Moment

You may be familiar with Chicago-based indie-rock band OK Go. Their music videos are invariably brilliant concepts, designed for the digital, sharing age.

With 2016’s One Moment, the band released a 4.2-second music video, presented by Morton Salt. The seasoning sellers have decided to embrace cause marketing under the Walk Her Walk banner.

Once the video is replayed in super-slow-mo, the video lasts the entire length of the song and reflects the message that Morton wanted to portray.

“We want to show that a single moment can contain so much wonder, so much beauty, and so much change,” said OK Go vocalist Damian Kulash.

4.     Nike – Margot vs. Lily

In January, Nike released a series of ‘branded content’. Margot vs. Lily was an original series from Nike following the stories of competitive sisters Margot and Lily.

The long form ads were aimed at the millennial audience, and while it was a risk for the clothing giant to take, the data suggests the series was a big success.

5.     H&M – Come Together

In a crowded space, my favorite holiday ad was directed by Wes Anderson, echoing the style of his film The Darjeeling Limited.

It also features one of the stars of that movie, Adrian Brody. If you are familiar with Wes Anderson’s work you can instantly tell he is the director on this.

Product placement is also completely lacking, instead focusing on the beautiful visuals and heartwarming Christmas story.

6.     Hotels.com – Skippable Ads

The best marketing campaigns often play with the format, and this effort from Hotels.com has an amusing take on the ‘Skip Ad’ button found on YouTube videos.

When you hit the button on this ad, the same video is played, but every character in the video is now skipping. It’s in keeping with the tone of previous ads featuring Captain Obvious – we featured one in our Best Facebook Marketing Campaigns post which played with the silent video format.

7.     Spotify – Thanks 2016, It’s been weird.

One of the best marketing campaigns of 2016 was saved until the end. Spotify used the mountains of data they hold to produce a series of lighthearted ads that also played on the annushorribilis that was 2016.

The campaign, which will be rolled out across 14 markets, features localized messages that merge listener data and pop-culture references. It’s a lighthearted way to highlight the way Spotify has been able to harness data to deliver a better experience.

Image: Spotify

8.     Google – Year In Search 2016

How do you sum up a year like 2016? This video takes an emotional look at the year just gone, covering a wide range of events. Google’s end of year review is a fitting way to wrap up our review of the best marketing campaigns of the year.

Tugs on the heart strings that one. The design is great too, with the simple search bar seeming to say that Google is now our window to the world.

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