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Messi, Bryant and selfies are the secret to ad success on YouTube

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YouTube has given the prestigious honour of the “ad of the decade” to Turkish Airlines. The 2013 ad featured football maestro Lionel Messi and basketball legend Kobe Bryant.

The advert showed the duo engaged in a battle of selfies – attempting to outdo each other’s efforts, in a nod to the airline’s tagline “flying to more countries than any other airline”. An earlier ad for Turkish Airlines featured the sport stars in a similar competition as they bid to win a child’s attention on a plane.

Agencies Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Starcom will be particularly pleased – they created the ad which has been viewed 141m times on YouTube (and is likely to keep on rising with the new accolade).

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YouTube had previously asked for internet users to chip in with voting online to celebrate its tenth birthday, and unveiled the top five from a shortlist of twenty contenders.

It said the winning ad had recorded 25m views within its first three days of being uploaded. 

The rest of the top five included Volkswagen’s 2011 Big Game spot in second place. “The Force” obviously proved popular with the Star Wars fanbase, and featured a little boy dressed as Darth Vader. It was viewed 8m times before anyone even saw it on TV.

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Third saw the memorable Always “#LikeAGirl” triumph, which racked up the headlines when shown last year. It has already been viewed over 57m times.

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Volvo Trucks’ “The Epic Split feat. Van Damme”, which had Belgian martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme doing some impressive stunt work, slotted in at number four.

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Dove’s social experiment “Real Beauty Sketches” finished up the top picks.

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The five combined have been watched for over 7.7m hours, but at least now we know it was time well spent, since they’ve been crowned the cream of the crop of YouTube’s ten-year life.

YouTube also investigated what traits and similarities the top 20 nominees possessed, to see whether there was a secret recipe to viral success. It found authenticity, interactivity, collaboration with YouTube experts – it cited Friskies teaming up with BuzzFeed for “Dear Kitten” as a great example – and thinking like a filmmaker rather than an ad maker, were important qualities.

Some of the other contenders which missed out on the top five included Old Spice’s classic “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” and DollarShaveClub.com’s “Our Blades Are F***ing Great”, which showed you didn’t need a monster budget to deliver an impressive view count.

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