The Best Branded Videos of 2015

2015 was the year of a lot of things (millennials, Steph Curry, the sheep), but in the content world, video may just be the thing of 2015.

Facebook video exploded onto the scene, online video overtook social media in time spent, and some studies even showed that time spent watching digital video now equals time spent watching TV. It’s not surprising, then, that brands produced some truly innovative and entertaining videos throughout the year—most of which, presumably, had nothing to do with sheep.

Here are six of the best.

Skittles: “Marshawn Lynch Press Conference”

Skittles’s marketing team must have felt like they found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow putting this together. In fact, I’m not sure if a marketing campaign has ever had such a perfect confluence of events as those that led up to this hilarious viral video featuring Seattle Seahawks star running back Marshawn Lynch.

The Seahawks were making a run to the Super Bowl; Lynch was making headlines for not talking to the press; and, hey, what do you know, Lynch also has a lifelong love for the little candies (a love so great that his nickname is Skittles). The video killed in earned media—there’s nothing the press likes to report on more than themselves, especially during a news-starved Super Bowl week—and racked up plenty of views in the process.

Squatty Potty: “This Unicorn Changed the Way I Poop”

I decided not to make this list numbered, but if I had, this video would have been number one (though I would’ve been hard-pressed not to make it number two, just for the pun). Call me juvenile for thinking so—and I certainly am for laughing so hard at this ad—but Squatty Potty’s ballsy product video got results.

Adweek published a pretty amazing story detailing how the company’s CEO ignored people who told him not to include an ice-cream pooping unicorn in the video, and was rewarded with a 600 percent sales boost. Seriously, between the hilarious poop puns and absurd visuals, the video does a great job of explaining how poorly toilets are designed for the way humans are actually meant to go to the bathroom.

And sure, you could just use a stool or a box or something, but then you wouldn’t remember the disturbingly catchy song from the video every time you sat down on your throne.

Lexus: Hoverboard

Okay, before you get too excited, it’s important to note that the hoverboard in this video is kind of B.S. It only levitates because of magnets, which means you need to be on a metal surface for it to actually work. In other words, you—or anyone else—won’t be riding one anytime soon.

But that doesn’t discount the fact that the ad set off a fury of media coverage; in fact, the only reason I know that the hoverboard doesn’t work is because Wired ran a long reported piece on the subject. Lexus’s PR people must’ve had the best quarter of their lives, and it was all from a 38-second video.

Newcastle Brown Ale: Band of Brands

Newcastle Brown Ale has been running with the theme of poking fun at the ad industry—particularly beer ads—for a while now, and this Super Bowl campaign featuring Aubrey Plaza is the high-water mark.

Plaza is a huge get for Newcastle—her deadpan matches the sardonic brand perfectly, and she kills it in this video series. It also helps that it’s so easy to pick on beer commercials.

Old Navy: “Christmas Haul”

Sticking with the celebrity theme here, and this time it’s Fred Armisen. The actor of Portlandia and SNL fame brings his unique style to poke fun at an extremely popular YouTube video format: the “haul,” which is when people go shopping and show off their purchases to their fans. When people over 40 think that millennial culture is dumb, this is why.

I almost didn’t include the video because of the over-the-top Old Navy plugs, but the “My dad’s going to look so hot in this” line won me over.

Airbnb: “Love Is Welcome Here”

This short film from Airbnb is a great example of how brands can use the documentary format. Airbnb made this four-minute video about an issue many overlook: the difficulty trans people and gay people have when traveling. The project aligns well with Airbnb’s goal to build a welcoming community across the globe.

The YouTube comments, usually a place you should never venture to, confirm that viewers appreciated Airbnb thoughtful way to talk about a potentially controversial topic. That’s something all brands can learn from.

Image by Airbnb