Creepy Roller Babies Are The Best Thing To Happen To Bottled Water Yet

Evian’s “Roller Babies” ad was crowned the most-watched web commercial in the world with 65 million views (although, oddly, only a “mere” 43.5 million have seen it on YouTube). It’s a triumph in every sense but one: The ad is awful.

There, I said it. I hate the Evian Roller Babies. It’s one of the most annoying ads of the last three years, it doesn’t make me thirsty for bottled water, and those CGI-animated babies are just plain creepy:

Business-wise, though, you cannot argue with the ad. In addition to the vast audience it has generated, parent company Danone‘s (DA) water sales were up 13.3 per cent to 718 million in Q1 2011 and up 5.3 per cent in 2010 to 2.9 billion.

So why is an ad that so many people describe as “creepy” or “satan’s spawn” so successful?

It’s not that it’s technically arresting. Why are the babies all dressed in the same grungy-grey vests and diapers, like an infant army from the Village of the Damned? And why does much of the babies’ “dancing” appear to be produced by repeatedly rolling the video backward and forward? Could it be that ad agency Euro RSCG‘s animation is just kinda lazy?

Yet the spot has been in Ad Age’s top 10 weekly video list for 98 straight weeks. It got 1.8 million views just last week. You can’t help but notice how many people dislike it, however. Here’s a sample from more than 12,000 comments underneath the YouTube version:

there is something deeply disturbing about watching this.

This is just weird

haha….this is kind of scary

gosh i will get nightmares!

am I the only one who thinks this is disturbing???

This is what makes the Roller babies so interesting: Normally marketers are loathe to offend or alienate any segment of the consumer audience, even those who don’t buy their products, because they care about their brands’ overall reputations.

But Evian has proved that if your video is compelling enough to a segment of the populace, it is worth annoying everyone else. That appears to be what’s happening here — it’s another horrid video that totally works.

This post originally appeared at BNET.

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