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9 Great Branded Viral Videos of 2014 (So Far)

Viral video content is all the rage now, and it has completely revolutionized how brands envision marketing packages to maximize their viral lift. That means: toss out the 30-second ad template of brand name, brand name, brand name; and bring in the slow burning sizzle: something that draws viewers in and then surprises them with a big enough finish to compel them to share with their friends.

That’s the new template for branded content, and here are the top 9 new viral branded videos that were created to be shared and succeeded. Engineering viral lift is a difficult thing to do, so when you see it work, someone's doing something right.

9. US Dept of Transportation: Texting While Driving

Strangely, one of the things that the federal government is learning to do correctly is create viral content. This short film recreates the scenario of teens driving while distracted, and the stop-motion feeling of sudden impact. It is getting shared because it accurately communicates the dangers of texting while driving, instead of saying, like, “This is your brain on texting while driving.” Any questions? YouTube views: 2.5 million since April 3, 2014

8. Snickers Australia: Construction Workers

Building on their global campaign theme of: “you’re not you when you’re hungry,” Snickers staged a surprising event for daytime workers in Australia with construction workers shouting pro-feminist messages to the ladies on the street. You look very empowered in those shoes, ma’am. YouTube views: 3.2 million since March 25, 2014

7. Pepsi Max: Crazy Bus Shelter

Obviously the best place to showcase cutting edge video- and projection technology is on unsuspecting commuters at a crazy bus shelter, which turns the city into various scenes from horror and sci-fi movies with near-perfect integration of the natural pedestrian traffic around it. No one is sure how they did it, but Pepsi Max to the extreme! YouTube views: 6.1 million since March 20, 2014

6. Do it for Denmark!

Framed as a public policy documentary about declining birth rates, this Denmark-based travel agency is proposing that Danes get away on holiday in order to, you know, make babies. And if you can prove that you got knocked up on vacation, they’ll give you a three-year supply of baby things! And what if you’re too old or too gay for that sort of business? The video addresses that, too. Seriously, just watch. YouTube views: 7.1 million since March 26, 2014

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5. Heineken: Guest of Honor

Maybe a great idea on paper, but a nightmare if you’re drinking beer to kill your social anxiety: Heineken picks a half-dozen random people out of a club and puts them through a wacky adventure to make them stars for a night. Sure, it’s all fun and games until the guy with the face tattoo gets mad at you. YouTube views: 7.5 million since March 31, 2014

4. Thai Life Insurance: Unsung Hero

We have seen this genre of branded content with American insurance companies like Liberty Mutual, but to see it transported to Asia with different details but the same heartwarming theme is something new, and it’s gone viral. A man does nice things for people (and a dog) without the expectation of reward, and gets rewarded anyway -- just makes you want to buy some insurance in Thailand. YouTube views: 15.7 million since April 3, 2014

3. Lion King cast sings on a plane

Flying back from Australia, the cast of the Lion King just couldn’t help itself, and busted out an a capella rendition of “Circle of Life” for themselves and fellow passengers and crew. This seems totally spontaneous and captured on smart phone video. We don’t even learn which airline they are flying on, which is a shame because this would make a great ad for an airline. YouTube views: 17.7 million since April 1, 2014

2. Dove Beauty Patch

Dove isn’t just selling skin and beauty products; it’s also selling piece of mind and a better body image for its consumers. That’s the focus of this seemingly legit focus group that sent a handful of women home with a two-week supply of the new Dove Beauty Patch. YouTube views: 20.6 million since April 9. 2014

1. Wren Studios: First Kiss

Wren is a women’s fashion line based in Los Angeles, and to promote itself, it got a bunch of strangers together and asked them to kiss each other for the first time. It’s awkward; it’s cute; it’s sexy; you’ll watch it to the end. A simple and successful way to keep an audience interested and willing to share. Now you know what Wren is. YouTube views: 84.9 million since March 10, 2014

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