Switch channels. Check the laundry. Read a book. These are the usual reactions when a commercial comes on TV. Nobody likes getting interrupted watching their favorite TV shows. More often than not, commercials are just a pushy way to get you to buy an unnecessary and expensive product. We suffer the interruptions as a necessary evil, but anybody would appreciate watching pure, uninterrupted programming.

Thankfully, some ad agencies are awesome enough to not miss the point. And some companies can invest enough to hire the best ad agencies to entertain us even during the commercial breaks. Here are the best ones I’ve spotted so far:

Dumb Ways to Die – McCann Melbourne for Metro Trains

Viral Ads dumb ways to die

Metro Trains challenged McCann to come up with a public service ad that would speak to at-risk young people more likely to be injured in or near a Metro Train station. The result is this viral ad shared on Youtube, TV, outdoor ads, iPhone and iPad apps, and a dedicated website. Likeable, shareable, and catchy, the Dumb Ways to Die video has spawned several parodies online. You can also download the song in the Dumb Ways to Die interactive website. This multi-platform campaign grabbed the Grand Prix in the public relations, direct marketing and radio categories during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2013.

Virality factor: humor, creativity, addictive jingle, use of multiple platforms

Meet The Superhumans – 4creative London for Channel 4

viral ad paralympics

“Forget everything you thought you knew about strength. Forget everything you thought you knew about humans. It’s time to do battle. Meet the Superhumans.”

British TV viewers probably found it hard to change channels when they first saw this ad by Channel 4 for the Paralympics, an event founded in 1948. Aiming to help rehabilitate injured British War veterans from the Second World War, the Paralympics featured athletes who participated in sports such as swimming, football, and rowing despite being physically impaired. Powerful and inspiring, the ad jolted viewers into awareness about the incredible courage and perseverance of disabled athletes.

Set to the fierce beats of Public Enemy’s song “Harder than You Think”, this ad won The ad won the Grand Prix in the Film Craft category at Cannes 2013.

Virality factors: motivating, sincere, inspires empathy

Real Beauty Sketches – Ogilvy Brasil Sao Paulo for Unilever

viral ads dove

Another ad that made a strong impression in Cannes 2013, the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign is a tear-jerking social commentary on how humans see themselves. The campaign, says chair of the PR Lions jury David Gallagher, “built on our human insecurities with a creative strategy that was simple but effective.”

The video features a forensic artist showing different women two portraits of themselves – one based on their own self-description and another drawing based on a stranger’s point of view. The ad sends a strong and emotionally charged message that women see themselves as uglier than how others perceive them.

Challenging how people usually perceive beauty, the video went viral on YouTube and garnered two Gold Lions for Best Integrated Campaign Led by PR and Best Use of Social Media.

Virality factor: credible, moving, speaks to its target audience, challenges stereotypes, supports a positive message

What other commercials have made their way into your TV screens and your hearts lately? Share them in the comments below.

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