From an avalanche of ice bucket videos, to a litter of Grumpy Cat memes, 2014 was another bumper year for guerrilla marketers. As mobile sharing went mainstream, brands achieved some of the year’s biggest marketing success stories with memes and viral videos.

To round off the year, we’ve assembled a few of our favourites from around the world for your viewing pleasure.

1.    Ellen’s celebrity Selfie

At the 2014 Oscars, Samsung took the award for most talked about brand, after host Ellen DeGeneres took the most re-tweeted selfie of all time on a Galaxy Note 3 phone.


The electronics brand was delighted when; about halfway through the ceremony; Ellen walked into the audience and asked some of her celeb friends to hop in for a star-studded snapshot.

Within the first hour, the image racked up more than 1 million retweets and scored 32.8 million impressions within 24 hours. Waves of media coverage followed.

Samsung spent an estimated $20m on ads to run during breaks in the ceremony, but may well have got more promotional mileage from Ellen’s stunt during the show itself.

2.    Grumpy Cat

She is the world’s crankiest cat and has become an internet sensation; inspiring countless memes, books, merchandise and even a movie.


Grumpy Cat (real name Tardar Sauce), originally shot to fame in a YouTube video that got 15.7 million views, and has earned more than Hollywood stars Nicole Kidman, Cameron Diaz and Matthew McConaughey, with an amassed fortune worth £64million.

3.    Ice Bucket Challenge

In July 2014, the world went crazy for the ice bucket challenge. The challenge – which involved filming yourself throwing a bucket of ice over your head before nominating others to do the same – started as a small-scale internet challenge that ended up reaching all the way to the White House.

The videos, uploaded by 2.4 million different people, have been watched more than 1bn times on YouTube, and has raised over £100m for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association.

4.    Alex from Target

One person who has experienced the power of the meme is 15-year-old Alex Lee from Texas, a Target employee whose life changed when he became famous online for looking good as he packed groceries.


Alex was surreptitiously snapped at the checkout by a teen admirer and his photograph posted to Twitter. Pretty soon it was being retweeted by girls who appreciated his band boy looks.

An overnight sensation, Alex gained over 300,000 Twitter followers in 24 hours, and made TV appearances on CNN and the Ellen DeGeneres’ Show.

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442 or email us on