10 Years Later…

I hope for most of you 2012 doesn’t feel like that long ago. Surprise — it was. It certainly doesn’t feel like a decade for me, and honestly, in writing this I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to divulge any deeper meanings from a 2012 viral content listicle. Wow, was I wrong! In looking back at which content burst through the noise in 2012, I found videos that point to trends and themes that have become synonymous with content tropes that are alive and well today.

While it may seem trivial, each one of these videos provided evidence for the evolutionary building blocks of what content is today and how we understand it. As marketers and creators, it’s our job to figure out how to supply our audience with engaging content. These videos were able to harness something authentic and through analyzing their success we can garner a better understanding of modern content to form stronger connections with our consumers. This analytical practice is a core tenet of high-performing creators who actively find the best ways to captivate their followers and therefore should be utilized by all who participate in the influencer marketing industry.  Please take a moment to sit back, relax, and venture through the wormhole to 2012 and the content that drove the world wild.


1. Surprised! Baby Red Panda and Upset!

The terror of this little red panda is a stark contrast to the warm feelings it sparked on the internet. With over 8M views out of the Maruyama Zoo in Hokkaido, Japan, this video of Kin & Gin the red panda was a pillar of cute animal content that laid the foundation for the puppy videos that proliferate your mom’s Facebook feed. *Overwhelming sadness warning* – sadly, Kin passed away in 2017 due to illness and Gin from an accident in 2020.


2. 6-Year-Old BEAUTY QUEEN

There are moments in history that remain eternal in infamy. Indelibly linked through the annals of humankind’s experience, these moments create a chain to culminate what can only be called destiny. The evolution of single-celled organisms, the domestication of fire, the fall of the Roman Empire, and the industrial revolution all led us to this point on Jan. 10, 2012 – The Singularity. The day the world stood still and would soon come to know the name “Honey Boo Boo.”


3. A Conversation With My 12-Year-Old Self: 20th Anniversary Edition

For some, watching the entirety of this video was difficult. Writing letters to the future you was a common activity in elementary school, but the exercise often only spanned a couple of years. Jeremiah sits down to have a conversation with himself after 20 years and what starts as a trivial chit-chat quickly turns into an introspective exposé on the pursuit of passion and the adversity of time. Viewer beware, existentialism hits hard in this one.


4. Autotune Sweet Brown: No Time For Bronchitis Music Video (Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That)

This video marked the beginning of a delightful age of YouTube content. Life felt much simpler existing in the anticipation of which viral video would be remixed next. You may call it a stretch, but I believe it was this epoch of musical content that provided the blueprint for the sounds and dance challenges we see on TikTok today. The concept of taking popular content and enhancing it is a theme we are well familiar with, but who knows where we would be today if Sweet Brown did in fact have time for bronchitis? We may never know.


5. “Edward and Bella” – A Bad Lip Reading of Twilight

At Mavrck, we like to talk about “evergreen” content that has a long lifetime value and will stand the test of time. This video is a perfect example. As we still see bad lip readings in the NFL today, this silly style of content struck a chord with viewers who wanted more. Videos like this remind us not to take ourselves and what we’re passionate about too seriously. For those that were caught in the crossfires of the Team Edward or Team Jacob debates, this reimagining of the steamy conversations between Edward and Bella provided a lovely reprieve from their 2012 adolescent problems and endless giggles in its haphazard interpretation of their dialogue.


6. Harvard Baseball’s Call Me Maybe Cover

It’s strange to think there was a time when content like this was unique. In a modern world of renegades and Addison Rae, we are filled to the brim with the opportunity to join a dance trend. No shade thrown to the TikTok star — she is a big part of the reason my industry exists — but I do think the Harvard baseball team captured something special here. While there’s no doubt these moves go hard, I don’t think it was the baseball team’s technical dance abilities that blasted this content into the viral stratosphere. The driving force of virality is the unspoken story behind this dance. Though the context is never given, the audience can feel the authenticity of this moment through the screen. The inferred time spent learning the dance on the way to a game, the spontaneous passion of friends making something together, and even the assistant coach filming from the passenger seat all yield a video that probably should not have gone viral, but for the most authentic reasons, it did.


7. Dragon Baby

In Kill Bill fashion, we watch as this baby takes on an age-old nemesis, the dragon. There isn’t much to say for the importance of baby action videos in terms of how they relate to content today, but that doesn’t change the fact this baby has got some serious skills. I do, however, believe that this battle went viral because it’s a reminder of a time in childhood that is altogether lost for most people; a time when reality was open to interpretation and the boundary to a fantastical or imaginary realm was far more accessible than current adulthood. I believe many of the ailments we face today, be it substance or content addictions, are byproducts of an attempt to return to this dreamlike point in our lives. Sorry if I just ruined Baby Dragon for you in a very ironically adult and needlessly psychoanalytic fashion.


8. PSY – Gangnam Style

Is this the pinnacle of content? Not to go into Baby Dragon analysis mode again, but think about how ahead of its time this video is. A catchy tune and an easy-to-learn dance are pretty much the ingredients of a viral video nowadays. Imagine how far we could advance as a society if I time traveled and showed Gangnam style to the pilgrims. Probably not very far, but religion could look very different! All jokes aside, PSY introduced Americans to K-Pop and created a foothold for bands like BTS to stand on. It’s impossible to quantify how much influence Gangnam Style had on American culture, but one thing is for sure – this is going to be stuck in my head all day.


10 Cheers for 10 Years

Some of these videos may have resonated with you, some not – but that’s okay. I think one of the biggest learnings from this list is that authenticity takes many forms. Whether you marvel at Honey Boo Boo or self-reflect from Jeremiah’s 20-year-old conversation with himself, content inspires emotion.

In the current world, we crave authenticity so earnestly that we look toward creators to provide it. Society has changed a lot since 2012 and I’m not sure that all of these videos would be as popular as they were then, but for marketers, the goal of creating content that incites emotion remains the same. Even if you’re as scared as a red panda, Mavrck is here to help you work with creators to make content that can entertain anyone.