Here’s the top 20 in all its YouTube embedded glory:
1. Dove: Real Beauty Sketches: 4.24m
Dove transformed its marketing strategy to a more socially conscious approach; building self-esteem and celebrating real women through its advertising, instead of featuring ageless spectres like Andie McDowell.
This 6m35s long video bends all the rules of traditional virality. It’s long, has a measured paced with relatively few edits, there’s nobody getting hurt or pranked. Instead it carries a positive message and it makes you feel good about yourself.
That’s why it’s the most shared video of 2013.
2. GEICO: Hump Day: 4.03m
This one may have gotten old pretty quickly, but its only 30 seconds long and never fails to provoke a guilty grin despite your cynical self.
It’s like your dad telling a particularly crappy joke but persisting with it until you find it funny.
3. Evian: Baby & Me: 3.34m
Baffling and upsetting. I don’t know who this is meant to appeal to, nor do I wish to find out.
4. Kmart: Ship My Pants: 3.05m
This, on the other hand, NEVER gets old.
I’m gonna watch it again.
Alright, one more time.
5. Cornetto: Yalin: 2.9m
Pitched somewhere between a Wes Anderson movie and a Eurovision song contest entry, this beautifully shot Turkish viral smash is a perfect example of why storytelling works.
What this has to do with Cornetto? I can’t tell. Maybe it could have shoe-horned in an awkward shot of the young couple running past an ice-cream van.
6. Budweiser: Brotherhood: 2.72m
Now I want a beer AND a horse. I can see Friday night ending badly.
7. Pepsi Max: Test Drive: 2.69m
The highest viewed advert to emerge from the controversial world of ‘prankvertising’.
A rudimentary Google search reveals that Jeff Gordon is an American stock-car racing driver. His insistence at the end of the video that ‘this is fun’ seems like a shaky defense for the poor car dealer not to call the police.
8. MGM/Carrie: Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise: 2.17m
Look at the screaming, terrified people. Look at them!
The morally ambiguous art of prankvertising now has two entries in the top 10.
9. Ram Trucks (Chrysler): Farmer: 1.88m
The advert equivalent of listening to a Garth Brooks CD and drinking a Budweiser.
10. Volvo: The Epic Split feat. Van Damme: 1.82m
This was only uploaded on 15 November, so it’s impressive that this ad has already appeared at number 10. Here Jean Claude Van Damme achieves the seemingly impossible: career resuscitation.
Who knows if the same can be achieved for Enya.
11. Neft Vodka: Biting Elbows: 1.32m
Nobody ever went broke appealing to 15 year-old boys.
This is resolutely NSFW.
12. TrueMove: Giving: 1.26m
At the opposite end of the spectrum from Neft Vodka is this moving tale of hope and serendipity. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that some videos appear on the same platform together.
13. PooPourri: Girls Don’t Poop: 1.24m
Like Kmart earlier (ha ha ha, I just watched it again), PooPourri shows an increasing comfort with companies diving into the scatological toliet of human experience.
14. GoPro: Fireman Saves Kitten: 1.23m
I’m not crying. Shut up. You’re crying! Leave me alone.
15. Phonebloks: Phonebloks: 1.08m
It’s ugly and it may be the stuff of technological fantasy, but my goodness it’s a brilliant idea.
16. Three: The Pony #DancePonyDance: 1.06m
Combining the twin might of 2013’s most inexplicably favoured cultural references: Fleetwood Mac and tiny horses (also see Budweiser), this is Three playing to the trendiest common denominator.
17. H&M: David Beckham: 928,272
It’s just nice to see something directed by Guy Ritchie that doesn’t feature characters called Jimmy Five Legs and Stabby Nigel punching each other through a wall.
18. Rockstar: Grand Theft Auto V gameplay: 841, 528
Play some golf, indulge in parasailing, take your favourite lady to the bowling alley, shoot an innocent bystander in the face. GTAV has it all!
19. Sony: Used Game Instructional Video: 764, 857
Following the controversial revelation that Xbox One would not allow players to swap or play previously owned games, Sony released the most wilfully sarcastic advert ever produced by a major corporation.
20. Code.org: What Most Schools Don’t Teach: 754,119
If Will-I-Am claiming that ‘coders are today’s rock-stars’ doesn’t get you fired up for a future sat in front of a computer learning CSS than nothing will.
Ah, ‘Ship My Pants’. I wish I’d found you sooner so I could’ve lived with you for longer.