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Mashable | December 8, 2011

The 10 Most Innovative Viral Video Ads of 2011

By Josh Warner

Josh Warner is president and founder of video seeding company Feed Company, which promotes and distributes brand videos for Fortune 500 companies and ad agencies. In six years, Feed Company has seeded more than 400 videos across the social web.

This year in viral video ads feels a lot like last year — many advertisers chose to evolve successful concepts and characters, such as Old Spice pairing Mustafa with Fabio for an old-fashioned Internet duel, and DC Shoes continuing Ken Block’s hugely popular Gymkhana series. I guess the adage is, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

For some advertisers on this year’s Top 10 videos, the creative choices may be less obvious, but feel more innovative. Boldness trumping caution is certainly one theme for videos represented by K-Swiss’s foul-mouthed Kenny Powers and Ford Focus’s flirtatious sock puppet. But other advertisers have other audiences in mind, drawn to the poignancy and emotion of Volkswagen’s The Force and The Silent Indian National Anthem videos, which proves there is no single formula for success for viral video ads, other than knowing your audience and being very creative about engaging them.

Here are the top ten viral video ads for 2011. Let us know your favorites in the comments below.

1. Kenny Powers – K-Swiss MFCEO (Uncensored)

Advertiser: K-Swiss

Ad Agency: 72andSunny

Why It Works: We constantly hope advertisers take more chances, and when they do we’re slightly dumbstruck, which is a reasonable reaction to K-Swiss’s video for its new training shoe, K-Swiss Tubes.

Kenny Powers, the alter ego of Danny McBride from the HBO comedy Eastbound and Down, takes over the company as “Mother F**king CEO.” The result is the most profane, pitch-perfect brand video execution of the year.

2. The Force: Volkswagen Commercial

Advertiser: Volkswagen

Ad Agency: Deutsch

Why It Works: One of the most popular commercials from this year’s Super Bowl is a hit on the web for the same reason. The video tweaks the heartstrings of every parent and fan of Star Wars, which is just about everyone. And at 44 million views just about everyone did watch it.

3. The Silent Indian National Anthem

Advertiser: BIG Cinemas

Ad Agency: Mudra Group DDB

Why It Works: India is a country with many different languages and ethnic cultures which are often at odds. To promote unity during India’s 61st year as a Republic, the country’s largest theatre chain ran a heart-warming video of special needs children from Mumbai singing the national anthem in sign language before every film. It’s a brand video for an entire country at its most hopeful.

4. Life in a Day

Advertiser: Backed by YouTube/LG Electronics

Ad Agency: NA

Why It Works: Life In a Day is the first crowdsourced, user-generated video to premiere at Sundance, which might say something about the heft of its backers, or about the film’s sheer audacity.

On July 24, 2010, in one single day, 80,000 video submissions culled to 94 minutes of inspiring film with help from Hollywood directors Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald.

5. Doug, Ford’s Spokespuppet: Origins

Advertiser: Ford Motor Company

Ad Agency: WPP Team Detroit

Why It Works: If you’re buying a new car, would you trust a mouthy, narcissistic sock puppet named Doug to help you make the right choice? Ford obviously thinks so and with over 50 videos posted to YouTube we agree. The automaker gets huge props for boldness and, as brand spokespuppet, Doug shows a deft social touch, bantering with users on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

6. Go Beyond The Cover

Advertiser: Dermablend Pro

Ad Agency: Agence Tuxedo

Why It Works: Dermablend uses its make up to conceal the full body tattoos of seriously tatted Rico Genest (a.k.a. Zombie Boy) in this strange, can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it video.

The viewer decides for himself how beauty is judged, and what to conceal or reveal, which makes this imaginative entry a must for this year’s top 10.

7. Seagull Stole GoPro

Advertiser: GoPro

Ad Agency: NA

Why It Works: This video from GoPro, makers of wearable digital cameras, proves “faux” viral video still has legs or, in this case, wings. Uploaded on YouTube by user Opica1983, the video shows a seagull absconding with a GoPro camera, flying over rooftops in Cannes, and landing.

The conversation about this classic “real” or “fake” execution rages to this day, but seems too perfect to not be sponsored by the company, who continue to deny it.

8. World Gone Sour (The Lost Kids)

Advertiser: Sour Patch Kids

Ad Agency: Mother NY

Why It Works: Hardcore rapper Method Man might not be the obvious choice to promote Sour Patch Kids, but that might be part of the genius of this full-length music video by the rapper, “World Gone Sour.”

The Kids, true to form, make Method Man’s life unbearable by appearing in all the wrong places.

9. Official Ojai Valley Taxidermy Commercial

Advertiser: Ojai Valley Taxidermy

Ad Agency: Rhett and Link

Why It Works: YouTube celebs Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal are no strangers to viral video ad success, having produced popular brand videos for Microsoft, Taco Bell, and General Motors. But this video for regional advertiser Ojai Valley Taxidermy finds an improbable Internet star in Chuck Testa, owner of Ojai Valley Taxidermy, which spawned one of our favorite Internet memes of the year “Nope! Chuck Testa.”

10. Party Rock Anthem – Kia Soul Hamster Commercial

Advertiser: Kia Soul

Ad Agency: David & Goliath

Why It Works: The three “gansta” hamsters have been on the hamster wheel for Kia Soul since 2009. This year, the automaker manages to keep it fresh by dropping the little guys in the middle of a post-apocalyptic video game with a soundtrack from LMFAO, one of YouTube’s most watched music videos of all time.

It’s a smart move and appealing to people with pint-sized budgets who still want to feel badass about their car selection.

Originally Posted on Mashable.com