Commentary

Fairly Furry Ads Seem Best Way Toward Virality

It’s pretty much standard  Cynical-Journalism 101 that if you want to sell newspapers (back when you could), you can’t beat photos of cute dogs or cute kids, or if you’re Rupert Murdoch, half-naked women.

Unruly, the social sharing-bent ad tech firm, provides the digital version of that concept. Its list of the most shared ads of 2015 has been tabulated and it calculates Android’s “Friends Furever,” the cuddly pairing of unlikely animal friends (an elephant and a goat, a dog and a dolphin, that sort of thing).

It attracted 6,432,291 shares since February on social-sharing sites like Facebook and Twitter and other places people share sweet videos that usually have nothing much to do with the product ostensibly being advertised.

I doubt one person on the fence between an Apple and an Android decided based on this commercial. But these things speak to me. They say: “This company has enough money to blow on this totally irrelevant message. So this corporation is my best friend.”

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(The Android ad is, by Unruly’s reckoning, now the most shared ad ever, replacing Activia’s “La, La,La” the 2014 World Cup special from Activia, shared 6,094,762 times and occupying the half-naked woman part of the Old School How To Sell A Newspaper prescription. This ad featured Shakira and scantily clad Brazilian dancers, plus soccer players, cute little kids --and also an elephant, come to think of it. Like the Android ad, there’s nothing much here for Activia, but it hits all the sharing buttons.)

The Android animals bested “Disney’s Surprise Shoppers” with 3,943,997 shares, and that’s an ad that 1) shows Disney characters and is obviously aimed at selling consumers on Disneyware, Disneyland and Disney media. But 2) it is still heavy on animal attractions, though in this case the animals are animated mice and Goofy--a dog. And also, they’re Disney products.

Many of the top ten from Unruly follow the rules:  Dogs and pets, kids, sexy women. But while there are obviously some better ways than others to get advertising shared (the science of that is a part of the video business Unruly claims for itself) it’s fairly clear that most of all, it’s really a dog’s world.

The regal Clydesdale and the cute pup is here, and even in an Indian PSA-like commercial promoting love between neighbors, the money shot are two puppies being protected from the rain.  

At Number 10, Kleenex’s “Unlikely Best Friends” is a quite the tear jerker: the story of a wheel-chair bound husband and the crippled dog who became his best bud. Honest, if you’re making a commercial and you have any hopes for virality, my simple advice is that a dog really is your best friend.

(And be warned. Sarah Wood, Unruly's co-founder predicts next year those nice little doggies are likely to be replaced by. . . zombies. No kidding.)

Sit. Stay. Watch the most shared ads of 2015, ranked one to ten, with links, below:

  1. Android - “Friends Furever” - 6,432,921 shares

  2. Disney - “Disney Characters Surprise Shoppers” - 3,943,997

  3. Purina - “This Man Found His Soulmate In A Puppy And It’s Adorable” - 3,021,499

  4. Roc by Ronaldo / Monster - “Cristiano Ronaldo - People are going to think I’m crazy!” - 2,995,849

  5. Budweiser - Super Bowl Commercial “Lost Dog” - 2,808,541

  6. Ad Council - “Diversity & Inclusion - Love Has No Labels” - 2,743,138

  7. Zorba - “Maya” - 2,634,706

  8. Fanpage.it - “Slap her”: children’s reactions - 2,365,612

  9. Microsoft - “Robert Downey Jr. Delivers a Real Bionic Arm” - 2,119,279

  10. Kleenex - “Unlikely Best Friends” - 2,027,213

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