A look back at the big viral videos of 2014

The question being thrown at every ad agency in the country at this moment is this: how do we make it go viral?

And no wonder – an advertising campaign which clocks up stratospheric shares can capture the hearts, the imaginations and most importantly the wallets of consumers. This year saw the release of the brilliant First Moon Party, which manages to promote the purchase of HelloFlo’s menstruation ‘starter’ pack while still being an extremely entertaining stand-alone video, while the enormous success of this year’s #NoMakeUpSelfie and #IceBucketChallenge are a mandate to charities to up their game. Bill Gates’ video of the latter has almost 21 million views to date.

But of course, most viral videos aren’t trying to make you spend money. Something most of them have in common is their ability to cut a slice of the zeitgeist.

Emma Watson’s #HeForShe was talked about for weeks by men and women alike, and not simply because of the actress herself – although her star-studded status obviously helped. ‘Feminism’ is the word on everyone’s lips (in a good way), explaining why another video on our shortlist, F-Bombs for Feminism by FCKH8, was so widely popular for its funny, daring take on the subject.

Similarly, Troll Poem and Look Up both take a contemporary issue as their starting point and tackle it in a creative way. And no, the irony of making a viral video about how much people watch videos these days hasn’t escaped us, but clearly it’s thought-provoking enough to make people stop and ponder: ‘does this apply to me?’

Whether either video has actually de-zombified anyone or stopped trolling is another question, but clearly people are listening. Millions of them.

The secret to viral video success lies in capturing something people care about. Kittens and toddlers with cute accents (and penguins named Monty) are sure-fire ways of getting shares – and I love them as much as the next person.

But it’s the clever ones which really showcase someone’s thought processes and creativity which are most admirable; after all, who else but Cassetteboy could make a speech by David Cameron sound funny? (Certainly not David Cameron).

See all our picks for the viral video of the year in the Most Shareable Video 2014 category of the ShinyShiny Awards.

Sadie Hale

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