The top 10 YouTube ads in 2015 reveal much about consumers, their priorities, their hearts, and their minds.

1. “Slap Her”

This Italian ad has received over 29,373,000 views in its first 6 months and topped the YouTube leaderboards in January.

Fanpage.it put several young boys in front of a girl and asked them, among other things, to make a funny face at her, to touch her hair, and then to slap her. Their reactions, naturally, were in the negative.

This ad spoke strongly against domestic violence, which apparently resonated with an enormous audience. This campaign demonstrates the viral power of cause marketing.

2. Clash of Clans: Revenge

The Clash of Clans official Super Bowl TV commercial featured Liam Neeson. By juxtaposing the actor’s ominous voice with the game’s lighthearted tone, the ad created a sense of humor found in many Super Bowl ads.

Like many of the successful ads found in this list, this ad uses an upbeat atmosphere and simple, powerful storytelling to tap into its audience’s desire for a happy ending.

3. Diversity & Inclusion – Love Has No Labels

Love Has No Labels, another cause marketing initiative, showed real-world spectators an X-Ray image of two people kissing. Naturally, the image of two skeletons made the couple’s gender impossible to discern. So when the couple came out from behind the screen and revealed that they were both women, the message was obvious: love has no gender.

As with other cause marketing campaigns, this ad taps into a powerful dialogue that’s already taking place in the mind of the audience.

4. Hyundai: A Message to Space

This ad starts out by asking if a car can deliver a message to space. Then the ad answers its own question by using a fleet of cars to write a message from a daughter to her father, an astronaut in space.

The heartwarming message, “Steph Loves You!” reveals more of the same trends we see in other leading commercials. They tap into universal emotions that are close to everyone’s heart and have a happy ending.

5. Clash of Clans: Ride of the Hog Riders

This Clash of the Clans official TV commercial led the YouTube leaderboards in May. It features the cute characters and sets the same lighthearted tone that made the aforementioned commercial so successful.

Again, this ad demonstrates the power of simplicity – since it only features a cast of hog riders responding to a call for backup – and lighthearted tones.

6. Arnold Pranks Fans as the Terminator…for Charity

In this ad, cause marketing, humor, and celebrity form a powerful trifecta. Arnold dressed up as the Terminator, walked around Hollywood talking to people, and stood stock-still in a wax museum, then surprised fans when they posed with him for a picture.

7. “Lost Dog”

In 60 seconds, Budweiser crafts a story that follows a lost dog on its journey through a horse trailer, a rainy city, and ultimately a confrontation with wolves, before it is rescued by the owner’s horses.  

Lassie may have its place in history, but this ad again proves that customers want a happy ending. It also demonstrates that the subject of the ad itself – in this case, a story of an owner and his lost dog – don’t always have to relate directly to the product.

8. Take It

Unlike many other ads in this list, Adidas’s commercial, “Take It,” is more like a motivational speech than a story with a “happily ever after.” It uses sports video and a motivational narrative to tap into its core demographic of sports fans.

While the ad may not be as universally appealing as some of the other ads listed, it did make it to #2 in the February leaderboards.

9. Durex – #Connect

Durex started the commercial by saying, “We asked couples to discover how their smartphone could make sex amazing.” The interviewers first demonstrated how addicted the people were to smartphones, potentially revealing how the smartphone could be alienating couples.

Then the couples were shown a video that built up an amazing new piece of smartphone technology that could revolutionize their sex lives. When it was revealed to be the “off button,” the couples agreed that they need to disconnect.

This ad again uses two near-universal sentiments – sex and smartphone addiction – combined with effective storytelling elements, to resonate with a wide audience. 

10. Dove Men+Care – Father’s Day

Dove collects real-world footage of men finding out they are about to become fathers. This ad is part of the Dove Men+Care campaign, which combines cause marketing techniques and universal sentiments to connect with both the men and women in its demographic.

As we can see from these ads that topped the leaderboards in the first half of 2015, the most powerful ads are those that resonate with universally felt sentiments, have happy endings, simple stories, and cause-oriented marketing.