The 20 Most-Watched Ads Ever on YouTube

1

Dove: Evolution

(See the methodology for this feature here.)
Views: 15 million. Dove practically invented the viral ad with this 2006 clip dissecting how a model becomes an airbrushed image of unnatural perfection. The ad, by Ogilvy Toronto, won two Grand Prix awards at Cannes, and according to the agency, it generated more than $150 million in publicity from a production budget of just $50,000.

2

Chrysler: Born of Fire

Views: 15 million. If you spend untold millions on a two-minute Super Bowl ad, the least you can hope for is some online buzz. And sure enough, Chrysler's anthemic "Born of Fire" spot with Eminem, by Wieden + Kennedy, became one of the most-watched ads of 2011. The 2012 follow-up, "It's Halftime in America," is so far coasting around 11 million views.

3

Honda: Matthew’s Day Off

Views: 16 million. Honda and RPA revisited the 1980s classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off with this 2012 Super Bowl spot, which was released early online and wasalready a hit before the game ever aired. This time, Matthew Broderick himself got to enjoy a day of hookie by touring sites around Los Angeles.

4

Samsung: Extreme Sheep Art

Views: 17 million. Welsh national sheep-herding champion Gerry Lewis worked with a Samsung film crew to create this bizarre and amazing 2009 clip promoting LED televisions. But is the footage real? Somewhat. The sheep herding was legit, but not necessarily the results. The Viral Factory has admitted to using digital editing to create the Mona Lisa and other images.

5

Kia: Dancing Hamsters

Views: 18 million. What's most odd about Kia's dancing hamsters invading a sci-fi video game and shuffling to the sounds of LMFAO? The fact that the spot, from David&Goliath, was directed by the same man who created one of the most emotionally stirring music videos of all time, Johnny Cash's "Hurt." Mark Romanek also helmed the drama Never Let Me Go and the eerie Robin Williams thriller One Hour Photo before directing this famously quirky ode to lasers, rodents and economy cars.

6

Acura: Transactions

Views: 18 million. Jerry Seinfeld hasn't been a TV fixture since 1998, but he can still pull the crowds. Agency RPA's Acura division, rp&, scored a crowd-pleasing win with this 2012 Super Bowl ad. It didn't quite crack the top 10 of USA Today's Ad Meter, but it landed a respectable ranking of No. 13 and has outperformed most of the big game's higher-ranking ads in terms of traction on YouTube.

7

Nike: My Time Is Now

Views: 20 million. Debuting during the Euro 2012 soccer championships, "My Time Is Now" features a cavalcade of up-and-coming soccer players invading a game to prove their potential. It starts a chain reaction that ends up attracting thousands of young hopefuls (and LeBron James)—a nod to Nike's "The Chance," a promotional search for the next great soccer stars.

8

M&Ms: Just My Shell

Views: 21 million. The jesterly crew of LMFAO makes its second soundtrack appearance in YouTube's Top 20 ads with this 2012 Super Bowl favorite from BBDO New York. "Just My Shell" ranked No. 5 on USA Today's Ad Meter for the game, and an unofficial upload has surpassed 21 million views. (The official version has 3.4 million views.)

9

Modern Warfare 3: The Vet & the Noob

Views: 22 million. 72andSunny tapped Jonah Hill and Sam Worthington to be a military odd couple in this live-action trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which went on to rack up $1 billion in sales, including the most pre-orders in gaming history.

10

DC Shoes: Ken Block’s Gymkhana Five

Views: 24 million. Drifting deity Ken Block has been creating his branded Gymkhana videos for years, piling on more views with each installment. The latest spot, filmed in San Francisco by Zombieland contributor Ben Conrad over four days in May, has been online all of three weeks—it was posted July 9. Clocking in at a sprawling 10 minutes, it's full of insane stunts. It will go higher on this list before long. (Gymkhana Four has 19 million views.)

11

T-Mobile: Royal Wedding

Views: 26 million. With an impressive cast of royal lookalikes, T-Mobile's pre-enactment of Prince William's 2011 wedding to Kate Middleton has been an Internet hit since it debuted a few weeks before the real ceremony. The spot, by Saatchi & Saatchi, was filmed in London's St. Bartholomew's Church, also used as a backdrop in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

12

World of Warcraft: Chuck Norris

Views: 31 million. Every fiber of Chuck Norris is woven with Internet gold, so of course his World of Warcraft ad was going to be a winner. You have to hand it to any septuagenarian who can outpace Aubrey Plaza by a good 26 million views.

13

Axe: Billions

Views: 35 million. Countless women in bikinis clambering over a lush tropical island. More gratuitous bouncing breasts than any other ad could ever pack into 60 seconds. Truly, this ad for Axe body spray by BBH London has everything you need for YouTube hit. This clip dates back to the low-res YouTube days of 2006, so click here to see a better version.

14

T-Mobile: Dance

Views: 35 million. T-Mobile helped popularize the flashmob worldwide with this 2009 video, created by Saatchi & Saatchi in London. Believe it or not, the famously viral spot actually did appear on TV, taking up an entire commercial break when it debuted during Britain's Celebrity Big Brother.

15

Pepsi: Kung-Fu

Views: 37 million. A young boy must face the final, crushing test of his Shaolin training in this 2002 French ad from CLM BBDO. Part of the spot's online popularity seems to stem from the boy's resemblance to the main character in Avatar: The Last Airbender.

16

Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Views: 42 million. By this point, Isaiah Mustafa has said hello to a lot of ladies. Wieden + Kennedy created a phenomenon with this 2010 Old Spice spot, which quickly built a following that exploded with later social-media stunts like Mustafa's response videos to bloggers and his surreal duel with Fabio.

17

Pepsi: Pepsi Generation

Views: 44 million. Michael Jackson (and the rest of the temporarily reunited Jackson Five) made a few brief cameos in BBDO's 1984 anthem spot for the "Pepsi Generation" campaign. Take a good look at the young MJ impersonator, too. Alfonso Ribeiro would soon become best known as the stuffy, Tom Jones-loving Carlton Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

18

Volkswagen: The Force

Views: 54 million. It is officially the most successful Super Bowl ad in Internet history. Volkswagen's "The Force," from Deutsch L.A., remains as endearingly entrancing today as when it debuted online a few days before the 2011 game. (A 30-second version aired on the game itself.) With more than 53 million views, the spot has set a high bar for future ads to leap over. But obviously it's possible, since this top Super Bowl spot still isn't even the advertising star of YouTube.

19

Evian: Roller Babies

Views: 58 million. Call them cute. Call them creepy. Either way, you can call them a YouTube sensation. Evian's "Roller Babies" continue to score upward of 1 million views a month, three years after the spot debuted. It's admittedly a strange ad to be so successful on YouTube, but obviously French agency BETC cracked the code and realized that babies and old-school rap were the keys to lasting Internet fame.

20

Angry Birds: Trailer

Views: 74 million. Admittedly, this is a bit sad. All the best ads of the past five years can't even hold a candle to a bland, overly long animated spot for a smartphone game. But such is the power of Angry Birds, a game that has eclipsed all others in terms of mass appeal. In fact, we're downplaying the franchise. There are nine other promotional videos for the game that could have made this list thanks to their 15 million-plus views. Hopefully one is enough to give the birds their due and deflate a few agency egos.