The season of lists continues and YouTube has just released their Top 20 Ads People Choose list for 2012. That’s an important distinction: these are advertisements that people wanted to watch.  And that’s what brands need to do when they create online content.  Because as we keep seeing, traditional ads are tough to get shared and talked about.

In this year-end list there are some usual suspects (Old Spice, Volkwagen), some surprises, many YouTube ads buoyed by the Super Bowl, and I suppose Red Bull’s Felix Baumgartner skydive wasn’t eligible because it wasn’t an “ad” per se, but these ads are definitely worth watching.

The 2012 YouTube Ads Leaderboard

Here they are in reverse order, for the fun of it… Skip to #1 here –>

#20. Old Spice “Vending Machine”

The hilarious, big-muscled, classic Old Spice spokesperson Terry Crews lights up this ad, which has a little over 3.8 million views:

#19. Old Spice “Bed”

Joining the Old Spice team this year with some craziness of his own is Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings, who starred in this video that went on to collect 4.2 million views:

#18. FIAT 500 Abarth Commercial – Charlie Sheen “House Arrest”

Also getting over 4.2 million views is FIAT’s Abarth commercial which stars Charlie Sheen, still being bad even though he’s confined to house arrest:

#17. Hot Wheels World Record: Corkscrew Jump

Another great YouTube presence, Hot Wheels has been using YouTube to the fullest with a lot of nifty stunts using bigger versions of the toy cars a kid would love to get his/her hands on.  This one clocks in at 4.6 million views

#16. Toyota Camry 2012 Big Game :60 Commercial – It’s Reinvented

Probably my favorite of the Super Bowl ads that came out, Toyota re-invents now just the car, but everything else, too:

#15. Sauza Tequila – Make it with a Fireman

Sauza Tequila took the tack that “Rethink Breast Cancer” did with attractive guys, and put a hot, hot fireman in their video to get the attention of those who are inclined, and it’s educational, too:

#14. Old Spice “Bounce”

This ad came out around the Super Bowl, but wasn’t an actual Super Bowl ad.  With 5.6 million views, Old Spice makes it on the list again, as does Terry Crews, with this whacked-out double-product ad:

#13. Old Spice “Blown Mind”

Terry Crews and Old Spice just make an outstanding combination, don’t they?  Here, hitting the list for the third time together, and for Old Spice, 4th overall, is this ad where Crews’ mind is blown:

#12. Hot Pockets: Pocket Like It’s Hot – Snoop, DeStorm, & Andy Milonakis

Snoop Doog (now Snoop Lion) just joined Maker Studios and YouTube this year, and Hot Pockets teamed him up with YouTube stars DeStorm and Andy Milonakis for this ad, which parodies Snoop’s own “Drop It Like Its Hot,” and has an impressive 6.7 million views in just a couple of months:

#11. Chevrolet: Chevy Silverado 2012 – Super Bowl XLVI Ads – Chevrolet Commercial

Chevy’s Super Bowl ad shows the Silverado surviving in a world of ruin, or the apocalypse.  Even Twinkies survived!  At 7.6 million views, this one was just outside the top 10:

#10. Audi: Audi 2012 Game Day Commercial – Vampire Party

Audi’s “Vampire Party” was one of the most memorable ads of the Super Bowl, and one of the most hilarious.  It comes into the top 10 with 7.8 million views

#9. Nike: Nike Football: Mercurial Vapor VIII: Cristiano Ronaldo vs Rafa Nadal

Showing that YouTube is a global network, this commercial stars two superstar athletes, Portugal’s soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo and Spain’s tennis champ, Rafael Nadal, playing a tennis match using their skills.  Nike’s ad collected over 10 million views:

#8. Chrysler: Halftime in America: OFFICIAL Chrysler Super Bowl 2012 Commercial

This ad, starring Clint Eastwood, who became an Internet sensation for a variety of reasons this year, was a much-buzzed about halftime ad during the Super Bowl this year, gathering over 11 million views:

#7. GoPro: GoPro HERO3: Black Edition – Smaller, Lighter and 2X More Powerful

No surprise here.  GoPro kills it when it comes to YouTube, mainly because they sell an awesome camera and can take breathtaking video, usually of people doing things normal people can’t in areas they’ll never see up close.  This video was seen an astounding 12.8 million times:

#6. Volkswagen: The Dog Strikes Back: 2012 Volkswagen Game Day Commercial

Volkswagen, which conquered the ad world in last year’s Super Bowl ad (The Force), got a huge 16 million views from their new ad, starring a dog who wants to get in shape to chase cars, especially the VW Bug.  Oh, and a new chapter of Star Wars tacked on:

#5. Honda: Official 2012 Honda CR-V Game Day Commercial – “Matthew’s Day Off” Extended Version

The commercial that really kicked off the Super Bowl extravaganza when they were being released online, beginning with a teaser with Matthew Broderick, and then Broderick basically reprising his Ferris Bueller character as a much older, supposedly responsible adult.  This one collected over 16 million views:

#4. Samsung Mobile USA: The Next Big Thing is Already Here – Samsung Galaxy S III

One of the biggest salvos in the communications battle this year was Samsung torching Apple and their followers.  This ad was watched 17 million times.

#3. Volkswagen: The Bark Side: 2012 Volkswagen Game Day Commercial Teaser

When Volkswagen merely teased what their new Super Bowl ad was going to be, they just kept raking in views to the tune of 17.7 million.  This one has dogs barking the Vader theme:

#2. Pepsi: Pepsi MAX & Kyrie Irving Present: “Uncle Drew”

This Pepsi ad starring the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving disguised as an “old-school” ballplayer and beating a bunch of younger guys came in with 18 million views:

#1 Most-Viewed Ad on YouTube = NIKE FOOTBALL: MY TIME IS NOW

Some soccer games can’t be held by the field.  Or be played by just 22 guys.  This Nike ad clocks in at over 20 million views and is the top ad of the year:

This is a fantastic collection of content.  I can’t wait until next year.