Corporate Eye

YouTube Most Memorable Videos of 2009 Lack Branded Content

Online video represents a huge opportunity for brands to connect with consumers, raise brand awareness, and more, but the most memorable viral videos of 2009 (as determined by YouTube) included very few branded videos.

Will 2010 be the year that brands finally learn how to capitalize on this growing marketing opportunity?

We’ll have to wait and see about that.

In 2009, the top 31 YouTube videos were dominated by humorous videos uploaded by individuals (e.g., David After Dentist and Scared Kitty) and inspiring videos (e.g., Inspired Bicycles and the story of Susan Boyle), but mixed in with those entertaining videos were several videos directly related to brands.  The unfortunate part of the story is that many of them were not intended to make those brands look good.

Case in point — YouTube Top Video of the Year #7: United Breaks Guitars

I wrote about this video on my own company blog earlier this year (you can read that post here).  Check out the video below.  It’s about a man whose guitar was broken at the hands of United Airlines baggage handlers and his inability to get compensated for the damage.  Suffice it to say, that’s not a brand message that you want to spread across the web and become one of the most popular YouTube videos of the year.

Lesson: Learn from United’s mistakes and be aware of what’s being said about your brand online.  Provide great customer service and you won’t have to worry about this kind of problem happening to you.

Case in point — YouTube Top Video of the Year #15: What the Snuggie?

I also wrote about this video on my own company blog earlier this year (you can read that post here).  I’m not going to post the actual video here because the language used might be offensive to some readers, but if you’re not easily offended, it’s a must-see.  It’s very funny!  You can watch it here.

It’s unfortunate that one of the most watched YouTube videos of the year related to a brand is for the Snuggie, but it’s true.  However, this video pokes fun at the Snuggie.  While the parody might have actually helped raise awareness of the Snuggie and may not have truly hurt sales that much, this is still a video to learn from as a brand manager.  Many established brands would not fare as well as Snuggie did despite this video and an online buzz that often mirrored the sentiments proclaimed in this video.

Lesson: Again, search engine reputation management (SERM) is essential for brands.  Without it, you’d never know if a What the Snuggie video is made about your brand until it’s too late.  I’m not saying you want to send a cease and desist or try to stop the spreading of information across the social Web.  However, you do need to be aware of what’s being said about your brand, so you can respond to it positively and nudge the online conversation in the right direction to help you meet your goals.

You can check out the full list of the top 31 videos on YouTube in 2009 here.  What do you think?  Will more branded content make it onto this list in 2010?  Let’s hope so!

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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+.