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SEA Claims Two Top 10 Spots for YouTube Ads: Cannes 2019



SEA Claims Two Top 10 Spots for YouTube Ads Cannes 2019

YouTube recently released its own special Ads Leaderboard launched at last year’s Cannes Lions Festival. LG Vietnam and Shopee Indonesia claimed the 4th and 6th spot with 39M and 32M views respectively.

According to YouTube, the advertisements were selected by their own algorithm based on “organic and paid views, watch time, and audience retention.”

Criteria for being a finalist

Here’s how the videos were selected and ranked.

    • Organic views – This criterion was kept a relative secret so that people won’t abuse or exploit it. There are no official statements from YouTube about what specifically is, but through context, we could say that these are views generated by people actively picking (searching, clicking on a recommended video, suggested on trending, clicked a link from social media) a video (e.g Video A) or the viewer was already watching another video and Video A was autoplayed.
    • Paid views – Generated only by being viewed as an ad in other YouTube videos
    • Watch time – The total time an individual watched and kept watching a video. Resets when the individual clicks off the website or app, or when the individual searches for other videos on the search bar.
    • Audience retention – The percentage in which viewers stay in a specific video. For example, I have a video teaching how to do a Fortnite dance for 8 minutes. Multiple viewers only watch 4 to 5 minutes of the video then proceed to other videos or whatever. The audience retention is 50%

Note: We are going to include stats that can be seen without the analytics. The stats that normal viewers see at a glance. It cannot be specifically quantified. However, we can get a feel for public reception and opinion through the comments, and the likes/dislikes bar.

This is a very controversial stat lately. Instagram is trying to experiment on removing likes on its platform. This is going to be a challenge to marketers since one of the indications of audience interaction and reception is through likes.

On YouTube, likes and dislikes are often negligible stats. Youtube doesn’t require a sign-in to play videos, and only signed-in users can like and dislike videos, an extra step many don’t bother with unless they are trolls or avid YouTubers themselves showing support to fellow YouTubers. But we’ll share the stats because they still give perspective on audience preferences. More about Likes and Dislikes below.

It’s really inspiring to see these SEA YouTube Channels compete on the big leagues with the big brands such as Amazon and Nike, and marketing heavyweights, Apple and Coca Cola. It’s really interesting that they can go toe-to-toe with these marketing behemoths.

But that’s not only the curious thing here. There are so many interesting takeaways from this list so let’s look a little deeper. Let’s start with our own two.


LG Vietnam

The title translates to Complete Dreams in Vietnamese. It revolves around the story of Nguyễn Quang Hải, a Vietnamese football player. The message of the ad is to share the dream of one man to inspire millions of people.

LG’s technique is to tug the heartstrings of people with its ad. It’s inspiring and emotional and it works.

Video Stats:

*Views: 40,233,770
*Likes: 91K
*Dislikes: 11K
*Comments: 4,105
*Duration: 4:35

However, what’s weird is that even with sixth place, LG Vietnam’s ad has a greater number of views than the 2nd and 3rd place by 400 thousand and 200 thousand respectively.

But this could be further explained by the criteria that the algorithm used aside from views which are watch time and audience retention which are kind of similar. Having a 4+ minute ad on YouTube is too long. Most people will click off immediately.

This is just one of the factors why LG Vietnam still remained 4th despite higher views. This would be further explained below.

6th Place: Shopee TVC: Shopee 12.12 Birthday Sale Blackpink (30 sec.)

SHOPEE Indonesia

To anyone who doubts the power and influence of K-pop, here’s something for ya. Blackpink has been on a roll lately, being the first K-pop group on Coachella.

K-pop is huge in Asian countries and is now followed worldwide. Shopee recognized this and utilized Blackpink’s fame and influence to promote Shopee’s “Birthday Sale.” Boy, did it work. A handsome 32 Million views.

Video Stats:

*Views: 32,853,059
*Likes: 105K
*Dislikes: 12K
*Comments: 10,072
*Duration: 00:30

This ad has the most comments, only second to Nike. Blackpink promotes conversation.

Here’s another weird stat. YouTube claims that because of winning ads having an average duration of 90 seconds, it illustrates “the growing popularity of long-form content on the platform.”

While long-form content on YouTube is certainly on the rise, 3 finalists had a duration of only 30-32 seconds. The first one is this LG Commercial.

Now let’s go with the rest of the finalists.

1st place: Coca-Cola | Vai no Gás


This is not so surprising as Coca-Cola is a veteran when it comes to viral and big marketing campaigns. Also, Brazil is the 5th most populous country in the world.

What’s surprising is that this was just released in January. That’s 92 million views in just 5 months!

The title means “Go Gas” in Portuguese. It encourages young people to “go gas”, be bolder and live life to the fullest.

If you dig deeper, you can hypothesize that they managed to reach these numbers by having multi-platform distribution and hiring influencers. Talk about having a marketing budget.

They have a dedicated website for the campaign. The website contains Instagram videos related to the campaign. All these efforts paid off in a successful campaign.

This is one of the 3 finalists with a small duration with only 30 seconds of play time.

Other stats:
*Views: 93,845,862
*Likes: 21K
*Dislikes: 13K
*Comments: 1,297
*Duration: 00:30

It has a very big lead in view count than the 2nd place. That’s a 53 million lead. Again, Coca-Cola shows its expertise in making very successful ad campaigns.

But the 32% Like/Dislike Ratio shows that the audience can be slightly divided with their reception.

2nd place: Not Everything Makes the Cut – Amazon Super Bowl LIII Commercial


I expected no less from this ad.

First, this is for the Super Bowl, a national sporting event in the US. Millions of people watch these.

Second, it’s star-studded. From Forest Whitaker to Harrison Ford and all the celebrities in between.

Third, it’s Amazon. Almost everyone on the internet knows Amazon.

Amazon uses quirkiness and humor in its message to have a positive acceptance. However, in the last part, it’s kinda sinister. It’s Alexa controlling the world’s power grid.

Of course, it’s not the intended message but some people in the comment section reflect my view.

Cannes Lion 2019 YouTube Ads Amazon 1

Cannes Lion 2019 YouTube Ads Amazon 2

Video Stats:
*Views: 39,353,957
*Likes: 16K
*Dislikes: 1K
*Comments: 1,832
*Duration: 01:30

Great view count but less interaction than the other ads.

3rd place: ن Orange GO – علي ربيع

Orange Egypt

It has the classic elements of virality. Quirkiness, humor, celebrities (it stars Egyptian comedian Ali Rabee), and catchy music. Almost the same formula as Amazon’s. It’s a song that asks the question, “What can I do without my internet package?”

It’s so campy and random and the music transcends language barriers even without English captions.
This ad even has the feel of Gangnam style, the first non-English song to reach a billion views.

This also has a very high production value. Aside from Ali, the majority of the scenes are highlighted by computer-generated singing animals. Usually, digital visual effects are very expensive.

Video Stats:
*Views: 40,567,492
*Likes: 144K
*Dislikes: 25K
*Comments: 4,765
*Duration: 02:23

This is quite curious. Orange Egypt’s and LG Vietnam’s commercial has more views and comments than Amazon’s. Again, according to YouTube, the finalists were picked by an algorithm with watch time and audience retention taken into consideration. Not just views.

There are possible hypotheses because of this:

      • It could be that Amazon’s ad is shorter than Orange Egypt’s. It could make people more likely to click off from the ad from Orange vs the ad from Amazon.
      • We can also think that since Amazon’s ad is for the Super Bowl, people will choose to watch it voluntarily. There are even headlines about Super Bowl ads.
      • Another factor is the language. Audiences can get captured about the first moments of the story but will click off eventually because they can’t understand the language.

Those are the reasonable justifications. But if you like fringe theories, here are two. It could be that Amazon just paid YouTube to have a high spot or YouTube is just giving their Silicon Valley neighbor a hook up. Sure, they could justify the algorithm as views are not the only factor, but I don’t know. Tin foil hat not included. (please don’t take this seriously and don’t take it as fact.)

5th place: iPhone XS — Growth Spurt — Apple

Apple India

Another 30-second commercial. Apple definitely has a reputation for being really good at marketing and rightly so. Objectively, their products are not that far off with the performance and quality of their competitors. But Apple commands higher prices because of its brand and marketing.

Here, Apple combines two virality elements: humor and pets.

Video Stats:
*Views: 36,570,586
*Likes: 71K
*Dislikes: 40K
*Comments: Disabled
*Duration: 00:38

Interesting things about this ad:

      • It’s a part of multiple simultaneous releases by other Apple YouTube channels from other countries.

Cannes Lion 2019 YouTube Ads Apple iPhone

    • The Indian Apple channel has more views than Apple’s main channel and the other channels from Australia, Canada, UAE, and Singapore. (those are only some of the channels that appear when you type the title of the video “iPhone XS — Growth Spurt — Apple”)
      • This shows how relevant the subscriber “battle” between Pewdiepie and T Series is.
        • Pewdiepie is a gaming personality from Sweden, has been the long-reigning YouTube channel with the most subscribers.
        • But how is this is related to this Apple ad? India is ripe for profits as they have so many people when it comes to population and they are recently developing really fast so more and more people are having access to the internet. More viewers mean more advertising opportunities and more profits for YouTube.
      • Like/Dislike Ratio. I checked this ad, and the ads for the other countries and it has a very high average Like/Dislike Ratio. 30%-40% disliked this video. If based on the video, there was nothing in particular that comes to mind that can be disliked. But I took a little closer look.
        • First, there was a backlash with the iPhone XS since it was labelled “sexist” because it was too big for female hands to use.
        • But the more compelling reason was this article by ZDnet titled Apple’s latest iPhone XS ad is a big, old mess. I said earlier that Apple had a very big reputation with its marketing and many people were upset that this is the only thing that Apple can do.
        • It seemed like it was rushed and not thoroughly thought out. As Chris Matyszczyk said in this article, “‘Everything you love just got bigger,’ says Apple in the ad. Other than the imagination of Apple’s creative department, that is.” Oof.
      • Last thing that was interesting is, disabling the comments. It’s harder to know the reception or interactions of audiences without the comments. Yet Apple disabled them for some reason.

      7th place: The LEGO Movie Characters present: Safety Video – Turkish Airlines

      Turkish Airlines

      The LEGO Movie was one of the biggest movies… in 2014. But it still appeals to all ages. It stars celebrities that look like LEGO toys, appealing to both adults and children. It’s also funny and very self-aware. It even has the almost compulsory part of kids’ movies, the catchy song!

      It’s great that they could make an airplane safety video entertaining and educational.

      Video Stats:
      *Views: 32,235,195
      *Likes: 98K
      *Dislikes: 5.4K
      *Comments: 7,262
      *Duration: 03:41

      I think it’s very smart of Warner to let Turkish Airlines have the LEGO Movie characters for their safety video. Imagine everyone riding the airlines being amused by the safety video then hearing that the LEGO Movie has a sequel. Great move. This decision has synergy in mind and it benefits both companies.

      8th place: Nike – Dream Crazy


      One word to describe this ad is controversial. It’s controversial because of its support to Colin Kaepernick who protested the treatment of minorities by kneeling down or sitting during the US National Anthem. This was a very bold move from Nike as it could lead to a massive backlash.

      This is one of the best examples of wokevertising/wokenomics. Being woke is being aware of the social and political issues, especially when it comes to minorities of race and/or gender. This is a good way to ride the wave of internet trends but it could definitely backfire.

      Video Stats:
      *Views: 29,635,470
      *Likes: 186K
      *Dislikes: 22K
      *Comments: 19,201
      *Duration: 02:05

      This marketing technique worked for Nike but it didn’t work for Gillette. The reason is authenticity and consistency. It’s easy to see Nike having this message as it fits naturally in their tagline, and Nike has similar inspiring ads before. But Gillette had no history of having this kind of marketing. The sudden switch was disingenuous and contrived.

      You can really see the effect in a very polarizing like/dislike ratio. Nike has 11% while Gillette has 63%. 1.4M Dislikes.

      This also brings up the conversation about the ethics of woke advertising. Although it’s good that brands are aware of these issues, some do say that it cheapens the message it wants to bring. Brands are brands after all and their bottomline is profit. So, it’s a double-edged sword but Nike survived.

      Here’s also one of the benefits of having a strong message: It promotes conversation. Conversation = word of mouth. Word of mouth is still the most solid and most effective marketing technique. The ad has 19 thousand comments. This means that Nike wins twice.

      In marketing and spreading awareness about its message. Nothing less from experienced marketing experts.

      9th place: The Internet of Things presents – #LikeABosch

      Bosch Global

      Quirky, funny, and catchy. One of the latest to be released. All the top 3 ads and this one from Bosch were released in January.

      The elements of virality are there. . Music, catchiness, quirky protagonist, and lyrics that make sense with the message, showing the possibilities and how cool and convenient it is having the Internet of Things.

      Video Stats:
      *Views: 22,968,611
      *Likes: 12K
      *Dislikes: 693
      *Comments: 882
      *Duration: 01:24

      10th place: Galaxy Note9: Fortnite Supply Drop


      Partnered with the biggest game of this decade, Fortnite, and with celebrities ranging from YouTube and Twitch Personalities to a soccer player from England.

      It shows these celebrities, receiving a real-life “supply drop” which in-game provides players good equipment for the shooting game.

      Video Stats:
      *Views: 17,171,440
      *Likes: 89K
      *Dislikes: 5.4K
      *Comments: 5,828
      *Duration: 01:30

      Fortnite, Gamers, Soccer, Celebrities, this should have hit the SEO bingo. But instead, it was the last place. Still not bad for Samsung, but this ad had massive potential.

      Here are some stats to show you the potential of this collaboration.

      People on the ad:

      • Markiplier has 23.9 million Youtube Subscribers
      • Ninja has 22 million Youtube Subscribers and 14m Twitch followers
      • Ali-a has 16 million YouTube Subscribers
      • SssniperWolf has 15 million Youtube Subscribers
      • English footballer Harry Kane has 1.7 million followers on Facebook and 2.68 million followers on Twitter

      Brands on the ad:

      This shows that even with these stats, you can’t use sheer numbers for virality/relevance. Consumers are still picky with what they want to watch.

      Here are the numbers side by side.

      YouTube Ad Duration Views Likes (Thousands) Dislikes (Thousands) Likes to Dislike Ratio Comments Date Released
      1st place: Coca-Cola | Vai no Gás 00:30 93,845,862 21 13 62% 1,297 Jan 22, 2019
      2nd place: Not Everything Makes the Cut – Amazon Super Bowl LIII Commercial 01:30 39,353,957 16 1 6% 1,832 Jan 30, 2019
      3rd place: ن Orange GO – علي ربيع 02:23 40,567,492 144 25 17% 4,765 Jan 31, 2019
      4th place: QUANG HẢI – THẮP LỬA NHỮNG GIẤC MƠ 04:35 40,233,770 91 11 12% 4,105 Jun 18, 2018
      5th place: iPhone XS — Growth Spurt — Apple 00:38 36,570,586 71 40 56% Disabled Oct 5, 2018
      6th place: Shopee TVC: Shopee 12.12 Birthday Sale Blackpink (30 sec.) 00:30 32,853,059 105 12 11% 10,072 Nov 18, 2018
      7th place: The LEGO Movie Characters present: Safety Video – Turkish Airlines 03:41 32,235,195 98 5.4 6% 7,262 Aug 1, 2018
      8th place: Nike – Dream Crazy 02:05 29,635,470 186 22 12% 19,201 Sep 5, 2018
      9th place: The Internet of Things presents – #LikeABosch 01:24 22,968,611 12 0.69 6% 882 Jan 7, 2019
      10th place: Galaxy Note9: Fortnite Supply Drop 01:30 17,171,440 89 5.4/td> 6% 5,828 Oct 4, 2018

      *All stats are taken as of June 28. 2019

      Miscellaneous “Awards”:

      Highest Number of Likes – 185K Likes: Nike – Dream Crazy
      Highest Number of Dislikes – 40K Likes: iPhone XS — Growth Spurt — Apple
      Highest Number of Comments – 19,181 Comments: Nike – Dream Crazy
      Highest Like/Dislike Ratio – 62% : Coca-Cola | Vai no Gás
      Longest Video – 04:35 : QUANG HẢI – THẮP LỬA NHỮNG GIẤC MƠ
      Shortest Video(s) 00:30: Coca-Cola | Vai no Gás, Shopee TVC: Shopee 12.12 Birthday Sale Blackpink (30 sec.)

      Key Takeaways

      Brand Message

      The focus of these ads are not about highlighting their products or services. It’s about their message. Gone are the days of just showing how the products work and how it works against its competitors. Now, companies are vehicles of messages and the products they sell are just backgrounds of what they want to say.

      Only Samsung’s ad directly shows the use of their product and directly praises the product’s performance.

      The trend shows that humor still has the highest probability for success. 6 out of 10 finalists have elements of humor or are totally meant to be funny. The other 4 finalists used inspiring messages, which were about social issues, empowering the youth, a success story, and using celebrities (K-Pop).

      Humor is still the best way to go viral. Although being funny is highly subjective to individuals and to culture, if it’s understood and doesn’t need translation, it’s easily accepted and shared.

      LG Vietnam’s case is interesting because it doesn’t have that many of a population but Asian countries are very big in using the internet. Still, I can safely say that it wasn’t just the Vietnamese who saw those ads.

      Even with the language barrier, the video performed well since it’s contextual. I strongly believe that if the ad has subtitles, it could have a higher performance than others.

      It’s kinda expected that the message has to be strong for it to get noticed. It has to elicit a strong emotional response. According to this, you have to produce happiness/laugher or you have to inspire people.

      Also, having a say on controversial topics can have extreme effects. It could be super successful, or it could destroy your brand so proceed with caution if you want your marketing to include social topics/issues.

      Likes and Dislikes

      Instagram’s reason for trying to remove the Like feature is justified and true. Some people–especially the young– are treating Instagram likes as essential to their self-esteem. It can be very toxic.

      On YouTube, likes and dislikes form two opinions instead of one.

      According to EmpLemon, a YouTuber, in his video “Why You Should Like Dislikes” it’s really noticeable that the likes dislike bar gets less and less focus, especially on its design. I recommend marketers to watch this video as it details how dislikes are still important.

      Dislikes can be weaponized. Users can send their fans to massively downvote something into oblivion, knowingly or unknowingly. Or sometimes trolls can use them just to make things interesting. So it’s really unreliable.

      There are even videos that audiences try to keep the likes/dislikes bar balanced. Such as this video called Neutral Response. The video’s content is just a 4-second clip from the animated TV show, Futurama with a character saying: “I have no strong feelings one way or the other.” Since uploaded, people are then actively trying to balance out the likes and dislikes. The internet is an amazing place.

      But the point here is the other stats that we’ve shown you do not have a direct correlation on their performance as chosen by YouTube. However, we might get insights that can help our next marketing videos. Every data is valuable to anyone who can use it for improvement. And let’s use those stats before YouTube decides to remove them, too.

      Long-Form Content

      I can somehow agree with the hypothesis of YouTube when it comes to the popularity of long-form content on the platform but I don’t believe that these ads were the ones to show that.

      First of all, for YouTubers to have more ad revenue, they should at least have 10 minutes duration.

      Second, because of this same logic, the longer the videos a YouTuber has, the more ads they can include which benefits creators and advertisers alike.

      Third, I don’t think that ads have the capability to prove the viability of long-form content since there are no stats showing how many people stayed to watch the ad. However great it is, if an ad is skippable, there is a very high chance that it will be skipped.


      Aside from the brand message, the most common theme for these ads is music. Any ad that’s musical will transcend language barriers and can achieve commercial success easily. If you’re going to notice Apple and Amazon’s ad, even though the main theme is humor, it’s highly influenced and highly entertaining because of its music choice.

      Speaking of music, It’s great that Shopee Indonesia saw the worth investing in K-pop. I think marketing experts in Asia already saw that thread and are thinking of integrating K-pop in their strategies.


      The protagonists on these ads aren’t just normal celebrities like sports stars and actors. It now features social media influencers and internet personalities. I really think that these will be the trend more and more as traditional media will be obsolete and replaced by digital entertainment.

      As you can see, there are so many things that you can pick out from this list. Hope this gets you excited about the trends and gives you insight on what to put in your own videos. I’ll be looking forward to writing this article with more SEA participation.

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