Does most shared equal most effective when it comes to web advertising content? Unless December throws a viral curve ball, Android’s “Friends Furever” spot will stand as the most shared ad of 2015. Adweek’s list (Tim Nudd, Nov. 19 2015) credits the Furever spot with 6,432,921 shares, well ahead of Disney Parks’ “Disney Characters Surprise Shoppers”, which came in second with 3,943,997 shares.

The concept behind “Friends Furever” is so simple, it almost doesn’t register as an ad. YouTube videos of animals being friendly with other species are arranged into a 57 second program, with the final 4 seconds dedicated to the Android brand name, while the Android logo pops in the bottom right corner for the final two seconds to wave a peace sign at the viewer. The piece is scored by Roger Miller’s “Robin Hood and Lil’ John”, a lo-fi acoustic singer/songwriter recording, originally produced for Disney’s animated “Robin Hood”, released in 1973.

FF_lion

That’s it. No mention of phones, operating systems, competitors, or electronics of any kind. Just animals being cute with each other and an old warm-and-fuzzy song. The text “be together. not the same.” appears overtop of the final video clip at 54 seconds, where a young orangutan, standing next to a blue tick hound, crosses its arms over its head and falls backwards onto the ground. Then the Android branding bumper for a blip at the end, and nearly 6.5 million shares later, you have the most viral ad of the year on your hands.

What exactly is being communicated here? I had no idea what this ad was and Android spot until it told me so in the waning moments. It seems like any large brand (Apple, WalMart, McDonalds) could have stuck their name after the “be together. not the same.” tag, and I would’ve accepted it. So what does Android have to gain by purchasing the rights for these already-popular YouTube videos, stringing them together and presenting it as a brand piece that speaks nothing about what they actually do?

FF_dog

From where I’m sitting, it looks like chasing that warm-and-fuzzy feeling is all that matters. Four of the top ten ads on this list featured puppies: the warm fuzzy feeling come alive. Three of those four videos don’t show branding of any kind until the video is nearly finished, and even then, it’s an afterthought. The emotional response to the content is the key.

If a video tries to grab my attention by throwing a product in my face, or spewing facts and figures about effectiveness and pricing and whatever else, I really don’t care, and I’ve already tuned out. Despite all the effort the company has put into informing me about whatever specific thing they’re peddling, I’m not listening, and they’ve squandered their opportunity to make me attach positive feelings to their brand. I’m a grown-up, I don’t rely on 60 second snippets for any real information, I’ll do my own research about anything I NEED to know. BUT, if a brand uses those crucial first moments to make me laugh, or inspire me with someone’s incredible story, or make me want to go steal a puppy, I might stick around for the full minute and see their completely unrelated and irrelevant branding blip at the end. And if I wound up sticking around for the full minute, I’ll probably end up sharing the video with my friends.

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