The biggest shock in October did not come from some Halloween prank or a horror movie scene, it came from the young stars of a highly controversial ad from clothing retailer FCKH8 to promote its line of feminist T-shirts.
Released on October 21, “Potty-Mouthed Princesses” whipped up a storm in pink on social media last month due to its no-nonsense message. It features a handful of young girls dolled up like feisty Disney princesses swearing their heads off as they call out gender injustices, including cultural misogyny, and wide-spread sexual assault.
The hook behind the campaign is cheekily determining what’s more offensive: children swearing or the aforementioned social imbalances? It’s a message that been picked up across the web loud and clear. Love it or hate (and a lot of people hate it) – the ad went viral last month, attracting almost 800,000 shares in its first week alone, making it by far the most shared ad of the month.
That’s despite the YouTube version of the video being temporarily withdrawn by the Google site for ‘a breach of terms and conditions’. Although, interestingly, the Facebook video wasn’t, driving the lion’s share of its success.
In second spot is BBC Music’s latest heart-warming homage to itself, a cover of The Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’.
We’ve seen a lot of brands this year achieve social video success by blurring the line between advertising and music videos (“trackvertising”), and the BBC has created a video that will stick in your head for a few days after watching (even if it’s just humming the song). With Brian Wilson himself there to lend some kind of credulity, agency Karmarama really lets their freak flag fly. Elton John covered in butterflies? Why not!
One place below after attracting 496,110 shares last month is a commercial from luxury cosmetics brand Chanel. ‘Not another pretentious perfume ad’, we hear you cry, but the good news is by perfume advertising’s high standards of nonsensicality and incongruous imagery, Chanel’s ‘The One That I Want’ is remarkably easy to summarise. Charting the relationship ups and downs of Gisele Bundchen and her broody beau, it’s the closest perfume ads have come to a kitchen sink drama.
Underplayed by a spaced-out version of ‘The One That I Want’ from ‘Grease’, the tension begins with Gisele and her man staring intensely at each other, even as she surfs waves on a Chanel-branded board. Eventually he flees and though his motives are unexplained, I assumed it was jealousy derived from her surfing pretty much constantly. After a frankly weird separation period, they end up reuniting in the very club where that ‘The One That I Want’ cover is being played – go figure! Hooray for a beginning, middle and end.
Another brand that deserves applause is Air New Zealand, which played up to the Antipodean nation’s close association with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies to deliver an air safety video with a difference. “The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made” is proof that even the most mundane content can be magical with the right ideas and imagination behind it. Of course, it’s not the first time the air carrier has tried to spice up its air safety videos.
Air New Zealand has done quite a few of these over the years, including fun collaborations with Bear Grylls and Richard Simmons – both of which performed very well. It’s also not the first time they have traded on New Zealand’s association with the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Back in 2012, they took advantage of the buzz around the first Hobbit movie by releasing “An Unexpected Briefing”, one of the biggest ad campaigns of the year.
A few places further down in eighth is a future-gazing video from Adobe. Now, we’ve all heard that the future is bright, but how bright are we talking? Well, according to Adobe’s prescient peak into the tech of tomorrow, the future is eye-meltingly, supernova-level bright. And that’s just the apps. Despite the slightly dry title (“The future of Adobe creative applications on Microsoft devices”), Adobe and Microsoft’s display of handheld advances is so outlandishly forward-looking that Robert Downey Jr. might feel compelled to explain them in an Iron Man film. There’s magical tablet scanners, an app that somehow pours digital paint between your devices and even a programme that lets you doctor the position of objects in a video. I could write a book about how little sense that makes to me.
Speaking of making no sense, in 15th place is a Snickers ad that sees Mr Bean star alongside a group of ancient Chinese warriors. Not seen since 2012’s surprisingly-pretty-good Olympics opening ceremony, the spot finds actor Rowan Atkinson’s bumbling character repeatedly spoiling the efforts of a crack team of Chinese warriors.
A few places further down is a shocking new PSA from children’s charity UNICEF, ‘A Vaccine For Violence’ which dramatises the hopelessness and fear inherent in the lives of such vulnerable children. Beginning with the face of a young boy bruised by gang violence, the ad’s otherworldly pharmacy offers a solution: a literal vaccine for curing gang violence. On the shelf, we see similar formulas for ‘Rape’, ‘Murder’ and ‘War’. The boy snatches the bottle, but soon the fantasy breaks apart. According to the ad, a child dies every five minutes as the result of some kind of violence. Prompting viewers to visit UNICEF’s website, ‘A Vaccine For Violence’ tackles a harrowing topic in a sensitive but arresting fashion.
Other ads to appear in this month’s top 20 include a Diet Coke commercial starring Taylor Swift and a lot of cute kittens, an illuminating ad promoting GE’s cutting-edge LED bulb featuring Hollywood star Jeff Goodblum and a whiskey advert in which David Beckham somehow manages to keep his clothes on for the duration of the video.
Top 20 Most Shared Online Video Ads – October 2014
- FCKH8: Potty-mouthed Princesses – 768,815 shares
- BBC: God Only Knows – 685,780 shares
- Chanel No.5: The One That I Want – 496,110 shares
- Air New Zealand: The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made – 384,547 shares
- Diet Coke: Taylor Swift Kittens – 142,201 shares
- adidas: Wear It Or Fear It – 125,743 shares
- Volkswagen: Eyes On The road – 117,654 shares
- Adobe: The future of Adobe creative applications on Microsoft devices – 113,412 Shares
- Peugeot: The Legend Returns – 113,340 shares
- KLM: Lost & Found service – 102,877 shares
- Walt Disney Studios: FROZEN – Let It Go Sing-along – 87,845 shares
- Friskies: Dear Kitten: Regarding The Dog – 86,852 shares
- General Electric: Enhance Your Lighting – 85,282 shares
- Activia: Shakira – La La La (Brazil 2014) ft. Carlinhos Brown – 74,567 shares
- Snickers: Mr Bean – 66,356 shares
- Fiat: Official Fiat 500X teaser – blue pill – 64,293 shares
- Haig Club: David Beckham’s Extended Cut – 49,648 shares
- Unicef UK: A Vaccine for Violence – 44,887 shares
- Always: #LikeAGirl – 43,590 shares
- GEICO: Ickey Shuffle – 41,229 shares