Should GEICO Have The Hump With The Cannes Lions Judges?

The co-winners of this year’s Film Grand Prix at Cannes Lions certainly raised a few eyebrows in some quarters of the press – but not among avid followers of the Unruly Viral Video Chart.
Judges of the the high-profile award opted to split the film category at the weekend, doling out equal honors for Volvo Trucks’ “Epic Split” and a controversial Christmas campaign from Harvey Nichols.

While, admittedly, the retail store’s UK ad campaign “Sorry, I Spent It on Myself” was a surprise to everyone, the success of the Swedish auto brand’s commercial starring Jean Claude Van Damme in the Internet Film category was anything but.
As soon as the shortlist was announced on Friday, we compiled a chart of the most shared ads from the campaigns selected. And standing proudly at the top of the list was the ‘Muscles from Brussels’ himself.
The ad, for Volvo Trucks, has attracted a total of 3.14 million shares since its launch last November, making the judges’ choice of internet film of the year also the people’s choice – of the ads shortlisted at least. However, if you also included all of the ads that were entered but not shortlisted a new people’s champion emerges.

That’s right, if there was a public vote on the ad of the year, GEICO’s Wednesday-loving camel would have won by a landslide. The ad has attracted 4.27 million shares since its launch on May 22, 2013, putting it well ahead of Jean Claude Van Damme’s most epic of splits for Volvo Trucks (3.14 million shares).

So what is the secret of its success?  Well, let’s just say GEICO has another reason for loving Wednesdays. Recent research we’ve conducted found that the average social videos experience massive viral decay after the initial first few days after launch.

Twelve months ago, the top 4,000 ads attracted around a quarter of its shares in the first three days alone and 37% of its shares by the end of launch week. A year later, those percentages have changed significantly: the percentage in the first 72 hours indicates that sharing has almost doubled to 42%, while shares in the first week have also risen significantly to 65%.

social diffusion curve 2014

>However, the reason why GEICO’s ad has been so successful is that it has bucked this trend significantly. While they still are seeing an overall decline in sharing, unlike the vast majority of branded videos, which usually peak on Day 2 and experience a rapid social decay in the weeks that follow (above), the ad has attracted a huge spike in sharing activity on every Wednesday since launch, continuing to spread GEICO’s brand message week after week.

In fact, more than two-thirds (67.3%) of its shares occur on Wednesdays.

GEICO shares by the days of the week

Monday – 2.6%

Tuesday – 3.5%

Wednesday – 67.3%

Thursday – 16.7%

Friday – 4.0%

Saturday – 3.1%

Sunday – 2.8%

You can also see how the video spikes every Wednesday (source: Unruly Analytics).

sharing per day

So should GEICO have the hump with the Cannes judges? Well, let’s face it, if it had won it would have been an even bigger surprise. But shouldn’t the public have more of a say over which ad is the intenet film of the year?