The ‘Sh’ in Shakira Is for ‘Shared’

The Dark Side’s influence on the video advertising channel has come to an end at last. Three years after it first claimed the title of “Most Shared Video Ad Ever,” Volkswagen’s Super Bowl ad starring a pint-sized Darth Vader has fallen to a whimsical, musical, three-and-a-half-minute ode to joy starring Shakira, sponsored by Activia, and supporting the World Food Programme.

The tally, from Unruly’s Top 20 Most Shared Ads of 2014 list released today: 5,819,822 for Activia’s “La La La” to 5,278,399 for VW’s “The Force.” Take that, Dark Sith Lord!

“La La La” emerged just before The World Cup kicked off and got a huge boost in shares when 1) the immensely popular Colombian songstress sang the Brazilian national anthem at the event, and 2) rumors started circulating almost simultaneously that Shakira was pregnant. But the video had a lot more going for it than that.

“It wasn’t just Shakira’s star power; that video did a lot of things right,” says Unruly VP Marketing Devra Prywes. “Trackvertisements, or branded music videos, are among the most shared; it tied in with both a charity and the Cup; and there was brand presence at the beginning and end.”

The biggest mistake made by content marketers with their videos, says Prywes, is under-branding. “Coca-cola does this subtly and well, with a bottle or a vending machine in videos,” Prywes says. “We tell marketers to ‘Please promote your brand in videos!’ Our research shows that the presence of a brand does not hurt views or shares if you’ve got a strong spot.”

And speaking of views, Prywes notes that they are often an overrated measure of the effectiveness of a branded video. Activia picked well. One of its goals was to feed people in need, and the spot wound up generating the donation of 4.3 million meals.

Other research done by Unruly uncovered 18 different aspects of video content that trigger sharing, including humor, pathos, surprise, and compassion, and this year’s Top 20 list displayed a wide variety of emotional triggers.

Shock was one. In one of two leading videos promoting feminist issues, grade school girls in princess dresses liberally dropped f-bombs while enumerating issues such as unequal pay and sexual abuse. “Here’s some words more f—ed up than the word ‘f–k’—Pay inequality!” announced one young lady in the “Potty-Mouthed Princesses” video sponsored by FCKH8.

Shock and humor together can be even more effective, as evidenced by the number two most shared video of the year for the 20th Century Fox movie Devil’s Due. With the unfair advantage of studio prop and special effects masters who can do things such as place a realistic-looking demon baby in a stroller that propels itself down a sidewalk, the studio stretched the limits of its liability exposure by motoring Little Lucifer down the streets of Manhattan and scaring the bejeezus out of people.

But 2014 was a big year for love and warmth, as well. Cardstore’s “World’s Toughest Job” celebrated moms and Thai Life Insurance’s “Unsung Hero” rhapsodized the rewards of giving. “We saw a lot of joy, happiness, and exhilaration in the top videos this year,” Prywes said.

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