Celebrities Continue To Add Star Power To Viral Ad Strategies

The use of celebrities is a popular creative approach for brands looking for success in online video. With more than 600 campaigns employing famous faces last year -- and with those campaigns garnering more than 2.2 billion views -- this was among the most used tactics in 2013. Athletes like Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi topped our list of the most viral celebrity campaigns with their second campaign for Turkish Airlines, “The Selfie Shootout.” But it was musicians who were the most viral group in our Top 10 ranking, scoring four spots with names like Jay-Z, Usher and David Bowie.

Fast-forward to 2014 and we see this trend continuing, particularly with major campaigns affiliated with the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics. Of the 86 celebrity-driven campaigns launched as of this week, the majority were associated with these two seminal events. As in previous years, athletes continue to be a popular choice for brands seeking viral ad success. 

However, there are two interesting celebrity trends that are unique to 2014 thus far:

The Use of Multiple Celebrities

In general, some of the most popular celebrity campaigns of all time -- including YouTube’s end-of-the-year wrap-up videos from 2012 and 2013, Samsung’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail,” Turkish Airlines’ “The Selfie Shootout,” and Comic Relief’s “Red Nose Day” -- tend to feature more than one famous face. 

But in 2014, there seems to be an overwhelming trend of featuring multiple celebrities in a campaign. During the Super Bowl, Bud Light had five in its campaign, Jaguar had three, and Hyundai, Ford and Volkswagen each featured two in their campaigns. In some cases, the use of multiple celebrities is a ploy to reach different demographics all at once. In others, like Bud Light, it is also a way to create buzz around the campaign and make it feel epic. 

The Use of Nostalgic Celebrities

Last year, one of the biggest video hits was Volvo Trucks’ Live Test, featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Following that example, we are already seeing that most of the most viral celebrity campaigns of 2014 star celebrities that had their heyday back in the 1980s and 1990s.

This year, we’ve already seen two campaigns with Arnold Schwarzenegger, another action hero from yesteryear as well as spots with Richard Lewis, Carmen Electra, Sarah McLachlan and John Stamos, among others. And Radio Shack’s Super Bowl campaign featured a host of 1980s stars including Hulk Hogan, Erik Estrada, Dee Snider and ALF. 

The virality of these campaigns -- and the increase in spots using stars of yesteryear -- demonstrates how nostalgia plays to our deepest emotions.

Here is a look at the results of the top five viral ad campaigns of 2014 that feature celebrities:

  • Campaign: “The Perfect Beer For Whatever Happens”
  • Brand: Bud Light
  • Celebrities: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Reggie Watts, Don Cheadle, Minka Kelly, and OneRepublic
  • Views: 27,474,348
  • Campaign: “Trust Your Power”
  • Brand: Duracell
  • Celebrity: Derrick Coleman
  • Views: 22,877,692
  • Campaign: “Wings”
  • Brand: Volkswagen
  • Celebrities: Carmen Electra and Wang Chung
  • Views: 20,792,887
  • Campaign: “Arnold Works at Gold’s Gym”
  • Brand: After School All-Stars & Gold’s Gym
  • Celebrity: Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Release Date: Jan. 24, 2014
  • Campaign: “Better Bubbles Made by You”
  • Brand: SodaStream
  • Celebrity: Scarlet Johansson
  • Views: 16,965,970

We expect to see these trends continue throughout 2014, with celebrities leveraged in major World Cup, back-to-school and holiday campaigns.

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