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VIDEO: The top 10 most watched ads of 2012 on YouTube

Chrysler

Clint Eastwood in a 2012 Super Bowl ad for Chrysler.

People don’t watch ads on TV anymore thanks to DVRs, but a hell of a lot of them watched creative ads on YouTube — the most watched ad of the year netted almost 21 million views, AdWeek reports in its year-end roundup. Los Angeles had a big impact, with L.A. ad agencies creating some of the most popular ads of the year. Here are the top 10 most viewed ads on YouTube of the year.

  • 1. Nike Football "My Time Is Now"

The top spot proves that the rest of the world really loves something that most of the United States still doesn't, particularly in an Olympic year: Soccer ("football" to all you hardcores out there). Despite that international flavor, this came out of a Portland, Oregon ad agency, Wieden + Kennedy, which scored six of the top 20 spots.

  • 2. Pepsi MAX "Uncle Drew"

The top showing for an L.A.-based agency, Davie Brown Entertainment took the number 2 spot with almost 18 million views for their basketball-based five-minute spot. It also goes behind the scenes to show you how the ad's makeup was applied.

  • 3. Volkswagen "The Bark Side"

Another local agency, Deutsch LA, took the number three spot for "The Bark Side," their pre-Super Bowl teaser ad for the Super Bowl which actually ended up doing better with its combo of Star Wars and dog humor, rather than their Super Bowl ad which saved the Star Wars reference for the end and placed lower. It's also the highest placement for an ad that comes in at only around a minute, rather than the short film feel of the higher finishers.

  • 4. Samsung "The Next Big Thing Is Already Here"

Samsung went straight at their Apple iPhone competitors, challenging the iPhone as being hype over substance while arguing for Samsung having the better product. Their ad takes place in Los Angeles, outside what is at least assumed to be an Apple Store. This was also created by an L.A. agency, 72andSunny. (Full disclosure: I use an iPhone, but my boss uses Samsung, so I am neutral territory!)

  • 5. Honda "Matthew's Day Off"

While many hoped for Matthew Broderick playing Ferris Bueller, or perhaps even a larger return to the Ferris days, what they got was Broderick playing himself in a Bueller-style in another Super Bowl ad. It was produced by another local agency, Santa Monica's RPA.

  • 6. Volkswagen "The Dog Strikes Back"

As mentioned above, the actual Super Bowl ad that proved less popular than the teaser tries to broaden the appeal beyond Star Wars fans, but ultimately seeming to prove a little less successful. Still, they give fans what they want with a Star Wars callback at the end, though perhaps not as adorable as last year's Vader kid.

  • 7. GoPro Camera "HERO3: Black Edition"

This ad was produced by GoPro's own media team, but the beautiful photography earned them over 12 million views.

  • 8. Chrysler "It's Halftime in America"

One of the most talked about ads of the year, which also played during the Super Bowl, Chrysler's Clint Eastwood-featuring ad served as both an ad for Chrysler and a comment on the state of the American economy. Many at the time took it as a pro-Obama ad with the idea that the economy was recovering, but that opinion shifted by the time Clint Eastwood appeared as an Obama-bashing surprise guest at the Republican National Convention with a monologue where he berated an empty chair.

  • 9. Nike Football "Cristiano Ronaldo vs Rafa Nadal"

Another ad with more international flavor, this combines soccer with another sport that falls a little outside the mass mainstream — tennis.

  • 10. Audi of America "Vampire Party"

Closing out the top 10 is Audi's "Vampire Party," another Super Bowl ad which capitalized on seemingly "Twilight"-inspired imagery in the year featuring the final "Twilight" film. It played it both ways, creating a vampire-friendly opening before going on to vanquish those vampires in the same ad. It comes from a Northern California agency, Venables, Bell & Partners.

Highlights from the next 10:

  • Old Spice managed to land four spots in the next 10, and likely would have one more if it had done its amazing interactive "Muscle Music" ad on YouTube instead of Vimeo. Its Vimeo hits would place it between the 9 and 10 spots on the YouTube list. They also had the only spots that came in at under a minute, at 30 seconds and even a 15-second spot.
  • Another San Francisco agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, scored another Super Bowl Chevy ad with number 11.
  • Yet another local agency, Thresshold Interactive, delivered number 12: a Hot Pockets spot featuring Snoop Dogg (aka Snoop Lion).
  • Local team Saatchi & Saatchi L.A. dropped a Camry Super Bowl ad at #16.
  • The Mistress ad agency, also local, took #17 with Hot Wheels — I'm guessing a lot of parents were loading that one up for their kids.

You can watch all 20 of the most-viewed YouTube ads at AdWeek.

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