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Happy 15th Birthday YouTube – Here are your highlights…

This month, YouTube is fifteen years old. As a member of the Generation Z clan, I find that hard to process.

As we know, YouTube has provided a cemented platform for cute cats and wannabe Evel Knievels hysterically falling from small walls, but it had a more-than-profound effect on the marketing and public relations world.

TV adverts were something we used to skip to go make a cup of tea, or a window of time in which to relieve your bladder. But, since its launch in 2005, YouTube has provided the platform for some incredible advertising communications that exceed what was we thought was virally possible.

Here are some of the best viral YouTube-based marketing campaigns we have seen:

1. Dollar Shave Club

Razor subscription service Dollar Shave Club is a very interesting brand. It was almost solely built up through influencer marketing through brand deals with YouTubers and has gone on to secure almost 3.2 million subscribers to its service worldwide.

In 2012, they launched one of their first promotional videos on YouTube, racking up a total of nearly 27 million views so far. The video is incredibly satirical, clever and downright hilarious!

2. Always’ #LikeAGirl

An incredibly powerful and eye-opening campaign, Always’ 2014 ‘#LikeAGirl’ campaign was an early adopter of including a hashtag in a title to help spread a communication. With nearly 69 million views, the campaign is supportive and uplifting and is perfectly summarised by the first line in its description:

“Join Always in our epic battle to keep girls’ confidence high during puberty and beyond. Using #LikeAGirl as an insult is a hard knock against any adolescent girl.”


3. Gillette’s ‘The Best a Man Can Be’

Another campaign that questioned gender expectations and stereotypes was Gillette’s 2019 campaign, swapping their iconic tagline ‘The Best a Man Can Get’ for ‘The Best a Man Can Be’ to promote the end of toxic masculinity.

It was an incredibly powerful piece and despite the quite strong backlash it received (shown by the hugely disproportionate amount of dislikes on the video), Gillette’s campaign fulfilled its sole purpose – to make the world stop and think.

4. GoPro’s ‘Fireman Saves a Kitten’

A great example of let ‘the product do the talking.’ Video camera market leaders GoPro, uploaded footage of an unconscious kitten being rescued from a burning house by a firefighter. All shot on a Hero camera, the harrowing and intense clip was shared worldwide and viewed 43 million times.

All GoPro had to do was stick their brand logo at the start of the footage and the advertisement was complete. Buzzwords like durable, reliable, sturdy and dependable all spring to mind without ever being said.

5. John Lewis Christmas Adverts

One of the most famous Christmas adverts is actually one of the best viral video examples of last year. When someone says ‘have you seen the John Lewis Christmas advert’, you don’t immediately sit in front of the TV and wait attentively until it comes around, you grab YouTube and it’s there on the homepage. The most viewed article across most of the big newspaper sites last Christmas was the John Lewis advert.

Spanning both traditional and new advertising platforms with a successful campaign? John Lewis completed it mate.