With Super Bowl Sunday falling the first weekend in February, it should come as no surprise that seven of the 10 brands on February's iMedia Brands in Video chart were big game advertisers.
Budweiser's adorable "Lost Dog" racked up enough viewership after the game -- 35.7 million views to be exact -- to keep it at No. 2 on the chart, dropping one spot from January. Bud Light, McDonald's, and Microsoft also maintained a place on the chart from January to February with their big game campaigns. Mazda, Nissan, and T-Mobile were three more Super Bowl brands to join the chart in February.
The Super Bowl will be the biggest advertising event of 2015. Already it has generated more than 467 million views. And because the ads are such an integral part of the Super Bowl experience, the buzz that brands can leverage around the game is unequaled even during bigger events, such as the World Cup.
But if there's one thing that online video has taught us, it's that a brand doesn't need the Super Bowl to create big viewership. All it needs is compelling creative. In February, three brands made the chart without spending $4.5 million on a Super Bowl spot.
The top brand in February, Adidas garnered a True Reach viewership of 75.5 million views, nearly 40 million views more than Budweiser. Nearly 50 million of those views came from its "Take Today" campaign, a one-minute anthem spot featuring soccer, volleyball, basketball, and football players preparing for and excelling in their sports. An inspirational voiceover plays over the video and ends with the narrator saying, "No one owns today. Take it."
The video was accompanied by 15-second clips of 16 athletes -- from rock climbers to runners -- sharing their personal stories of "taking today."
Google was the second brand on the chart not to participate in the Super Bowl. It took the No. 4 spot with 32.6 million views. Nearly 44 percent of its viewership in February came from "Friends Furever" campaign, which generated 14.2 million views.
The adorable campaign features a variety of strange animal pairings -- a cat and a chick, a dog and an orangutan, a sheep and an elephant, a dog and a lion cub -- frolicking as the "Oo De Lally" theme from Disney's "Robin Hood" plays over the footage. The video ends with the tag, "Be together. Not the same." It is a very subtle dig at Apple's closed ecosystem and a promotion of Android's inclusive one.
Samsung was the third non-Super Bowl brand to make the chart in February. It came in at No. 5 with 29.9 million views. While Samsung has advertised during the Super Bowl in the past, the electronics brand opted to leverage another event this year, the Oscars.
Brands pay big money -- not Super Bowl big, but big nonetheless -- to advertise during the Oscars, but there is rarely buzz around Oscar advertisers. (They have to compete with movie stars, after all.) Samsung, however, produced a campaign that capitalized on the theme of the night and drove a fair bit of viewership. More than 56 percent of the brand's viewership came from its awards show campaign, "Movie Magic."
The video features a woman who, after seeing a less than stellar movie, decides to make her own film using Samsung products. The amusing video shows her going all out -- shooting and editing, painting a green screen in her house, buying food for the crew, and persuading her plumber to make a cameo, all in the name of her perfect film.
How have these three brands overshadowed those that paid millions to have airtime during the most-watched television event of the year? Simply put, each developed creative that wasn't just good -- it was creative that tapped in to the emotion of its target audience.
Adidas inspired audiences in the way that only sports can, showing the lengths to which athletes go to play the game and play the game well. Android made viewers let out a collective "awwww" with its cuddly animal BFFs. And Samsung produced a campaign that was humorous but still inspiring in the sense that it shows how technology can help all of us reach for goals that might seem a little out of reach.
Each of these campaigns elicits emotion in its viewers with a message that is universally relatable. Time and time again, we've seen that a universal message and the creation of genuine emotion go farther than any placement during a big game.
iMedia's Top 10 Brands in Video chart, powered by Visible Measures, focuses on aggregated brand view counts across related social video ad campaigns. Each brand and campaign is measured on a True Reach basis, which includes viewership of both brand-syndicated and audience-driven video clips. The data are compiled using the patented Visible Measures platform, a constantly growing repository of analytic data on close to 400 million videos tracked across more than 300 online video destinations.
Note: This analysis does not include Visible Measures' paid-placement (e.g., overlays; pre-, mid-, and post-roll) performance data or video views on private sites. This chart does not include movie trailers, video game campaigns, TV show, or media network promotions. View counts are incremental by month.
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