Top YouTube ads in 2018

Everybody knows the first five seconds of an ad are crucial to retaining audience – and that’s especially true on YouTube, where longer ads are skippable after the first five seconds.

In the platform’s annual showcase of the most engaging ads in New Zealand, the YouTube Ads Leaderboard 2018, telcos rule the roost with 2 Degrees and Spark taking up the top two spots. 

To understand how brands can earn consumers attention, Google’s Unskippable labs team analysed more than 14,000 ads globally and conducted more than 150 creative experiments to find some common themes.

Google ANZ head of creative development Fiona Walford says the main themes of the ‘unskippable’ ads were fast pacing, tight framing and an emerging story arc.

“An attention-grabbing first few seconds, with multiple peaks and unexpected shifts, and more vignette-based creative delivering a ‘heartbeat’ across the duration of the ad. Kiwi humour and fun also featured heavily across the board, with nearly all of the ads bringing a smile to your face, even when the subject matter might not traditionally have called for it,” she says. 

Celebrity ambassadors are also a hit with audiences, with three in the top ten featuring familiar faces: Air New Zealand and Adrien Grenier, Lynx and Julian Dennison and McDonald’s and How to Dad’s Jordan Watson.

1. 2 Degrees: Communication is Second Nature

Nine years since launching in the New Zealand market, 2 Degrees – with creative by DDB – released a new campaign marking its stake in the New Zealand telecommunications industry. And it worked. The ad was the most watched ad on YouTube in 2018, with more than 1.7 million views. Featuring the song ‘Never be Apart’ by Teeks, the ad follows New Zealanders as they go about their daily lives and finds communication to be at the heart of everything we do.

2. Spark: Generation Voice is Here

The 2018 edition of Spark’s ‘Little Can Be Huge’ platform really resonated with New Zealanders. This ad from Colenso BBDO features children fact-checking what they’ve been told by adults, by asking questions to voice assistants. With such easy access to information, they’re easily able to identify they’ve been duped and the ad ends with one little boy telling his mother, “we need to talk”. With 1.3 million views and nearly 80 comments on the YouTube channel, it’s easy to see the appeal in this ad. 

3. McDonald’s New Zealand: How to Dad on Kiwiburger

McDonald’s said “New year, old burger” at the start of 2018 and brought back the fan-favourite Kiwiburger. With help from DDB and How to Dad’s Jordan Watson, the fast-food company reimagined the classic jingle in Watson’s signature style. The ad has more than 900,000 views and places among some of McDonald’s best performing social content. 

4. Health Promotion Agency: The Lost Night

Created by FCB New Zealand, the fact that this campaign calls for New Zealanders to go easy during one their favourite pastimes makes it all the more impressive users watched until the end. The New Zealand Health Promotion Agency is encouraging people to avoid drinking excessively with an intriguing, surreal campaign: the ‘Department of Lost Nights‘. The YouTube video has more than 1.4 million views and very complimentary comments. 

5. Lynx NZ: It’s All About the Confidence

This campaign, by Emotive, has earned its place on this list by its top YouTube comment alone: “This is the only ad on YouTube that lasted more than a minute that I’ve watched to the end. That enjoyable”, says one YouTube user. Aside from a big drawcard in Deadpool 2 and Hunt for the Wilderpeople star Julian Dennison, the ad further cements itself in the hearts of New Zealanders by making fun of Australia – specifically the Australian cricket team’s ball-tampering scandal

6. Mitre 10: Roy – Kong’s Out Again

Created by FCB New Zealand, this campaign sparked the launch of a new brand mission for Mitre 10: ‘Get it done right’. The campaign gives the audience a hero, Kong, a cheeky donkey with one foot out the door. In true DIY fashion, Roy tries everything he can think of to keep Kong on the property – but a trip to Mitre 10 exposes Kong’s real intentions. He’s not looking to escape, he’s looking for company, and a make-shift donkey built from hardware does the trick. 

7. Burger Fuel: The Whip

It’s easy to see why this campaign was among the top ads for YouTube users in 2018. It’s short for one thing, but also provocative and indulgent. Created by the Burger King in house team, the campaign clearly appealed to the audience with one commenter saying “This is without a doubt the best video on YouTube”.

8. Air New Zealand: World’s Coolest Safety Video 

Created by True with media partner CARAT, this campaign joined the ranks among Air New Zealand’s much-debated safety videos. Some questioned the appropriateness of filming a safety video in the location of the airlines only major disaster, while others applauded the company for raising awareness about conservation. 

Jodi Williams, Air New Zealand GM of global brand and content marketing, says ‘The World’s Coolest Safety Video’ spotlights the critical work underway in Antarctica to understand the impact of a warming world.

“Our safety videos are seen by millions worldwide and we were thrilled to use the video’s global reach to raise awareness of Antarctic climate science with new audiences.”

However, the ad has since been removed from Air New Zealand’s YouTube channel. 

9. Lotto NZ: Armoured Truck

Lotto warmed the hearts of people all around the country when it released this campaign back in February 2018. Created by DDB and media partners PHD, the tale of the friendship formed by these co-workers and the excitement of splitting the winnings from a massive Lotto win. The ad was inspired by the true story of a Kiwi man who won $15 million and, honouring a promise made long ago, went halves with his mate. Lotto and DDB continued to develop the story throughout 2018 and in 2019 with further TVCs and experiential activation

Lotto NZ chief marketing officer Annemaire Browne says the team is thrilled that the campaign resonated with audiences. 

“There is just something so compelling about sharing a big win and this story talks directly to the feedback we hear so much from winners and players every day, about how they would help other family and friends if they were to win the big one.”

The ad has more than one million views on Lotto NZ’s YouTube channel. 

10. Apple: Holiday – Share Your Gifts

While not strictly a New Zealand ad, this campaign did show on New Zealanders’ YouTube feed. Created by TBWAMedia Arts and OMD, the holiday ad for technology giant Apple has had more than 22.7 million views on YouTube since November. Backed by the song ‘Come out and play’ by Billie Eilish, this ad tells the story of a young woman who is scared to share the art she creates with the world – only to find out that sharing her ‘gifts’ brings joy to a lot of people. 

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