Corporate Eye

Viral Spread of Ads 2006-2011 in an Infographic

In 2006, a cool commercial named “Evolution” got people talking about Dove soap. In the ad, a camera recorded a model from the moment she sat in the makeup chair to photo-retouching of the pictures shot during the photo shoot, and finally, to the ad that appeared on a billboard. The add supported the Dove Self-Esteem Fund and intended to show people that the women in ads aren’t accurate depictions of reality. That ad was a viral hit in 2006 with over 222,000 shares across the web. You can watch it below.

Fast forward five years and the 222,000 shares that the Dove “Evolution” ad received is a drop in the bucket. According to a great infographic from Unruly Media, the most shared ad that became the biggest viral sensation in 2011 was a Volkwsagen commercial which featured a young boy dressed as Darth Vader. Called “The Force,” the ad was shared nearly 5 million times in 2011. Check it out below.

The Volkswagen ad viral spread success wasn’t an isolated incident. Other ads spread to huge audiences across the social web in 2011. Brands like D.C. Shoes, T-Mobile, Angry Birds, and Kia launched ads that were shared approximately 2 million times.

Those numbers are increases from the top viral spreading ads in 2010 where D.C. Shoes took the top spot with just over 2.6 million shares. Budweiser, Nike, Old Spice, and Toyota followed with between 1 million to 2 million shares each.

The viral spread of ads has taken on significant importance to brand managers. Instead of simply looking at online video sharing as a nice extra to get some extra mileage out of an ad, brands are developing ads and related marketing campaigns with the intent to leverage online video sharing.

You can see the complete infographic below. Click on each image to open the ad video in a new window or tab. Hover your mouse over each image to bring it to life.

What do you think? Are you planning commercials with an online video push component included? Leave a comment and share your thoughts on the viral spread of video ads.

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.