Let’s start with saying something really obvious: the world has changed a lot over the first decade of the XXI century. So has the market of commercials.
Consumers themselves have realized that template-like scenarios where product X comes to the rescue are not cutting it anymore. Big brands also know that consumers are better informed about products, and prefer stronger messages and powerful stories. Therefore, to win the competition, companies will need to follow and utilize trends more carefully and sensibly than ever before.
We’ve already looked at the latest video marketing trends in our recent article. Now it’s time to get some inspiration from top brands. As these multinational enterprises hire the best marketing specialists from across the world, they usually know how to do their job (although sometimes they failtoo, but that’s another story). No wonder some commercials by companies like Nike, Samsung, Burger King and other giants become viral and gain millions of views.
Last year marked itself with quite a few engaging advertisement videos. We’ve picked 5 of them for a thorough breakdown – and here’s why we think these commercials are the best of 2019.
Amazon: Not Everything Makes the Cut
What they did: A rare brand can afford to laugh at itself, and Amazon has dared to be one. Its virtual assistant Alexa, which resides in a portable speaker, is controlled by voice. Supposedly the gadget was designed to facilitate its owner’s life. In fact, it often messes up – but no one usually mentions that in marketing campaigns. The ad shows an alternative scenario behind the scenes.
Why it worked: Let’s face it – we’re all sick and tired of all those refined ads featuring exaltedly happy families, flawlessly clean apartments, ideally smooth roadways, and so on. What’s really in trend is embracing reality, being natural and having a sense of self-irony. “Yes, we are no perfection, but we’re doing our best. Meanwhile, let’s take a chance and laugh at our fails” – that’s the message Amazon’s ad transmits.
What we can learn from it: Don’t try to idealize yourself or your product. Your audience will much rather appreciate sincerity and your ability to present your brand with a bit of humour. Be careful not to overdo it: coarse jokes and deliberate attempts at being funny (like slipping on banana skin or cake-in-the-face sort of things) will only spoil the impression.
Gillette: The Best a Man Can Be
What they did: In the light of recent scandals concerning #MeToo movement, famous harassment cases and so on, Gillette has shifted from traditional attributes of men’s brands (compare it with a typical Axe effect ad, or any other brand of this segment). The age of traditional paradigm regarding men’s position insociety seems to be coming to an end. A man no longer has to be brutal, aggressive and dominant. “Not cool, not cool!” – says one of the characters in the video. Empathy, diplomacy and respect towards each other regardless of sex – these are the things that have come into fashion instead. This ad eventually has caused a huge social debate and gathered 1,5 dislikes on YouTube. Better watch to make your own judgement, really.
Why it worked: In the XXI century, the industry of commercials is becoming more and more closely tied with social agenda. What we see now in our society is that feminism is gaining strength, the gender equality discourse is taking over the world, misogyny is being fought, and traditional view of masculinity is being questioned. Naturally, we will see more commercials of this kind in the future. For now, let’s give credit to Gillette for masterly creating an alternative image of their male customer without making him look less of a man. The whole concept of manliness has changed, and the brand has shown its own view of this change.
What we can learn from it: If you want your commercial to be in trend, you definitely shouldn’t ignore the most important questions that are being discussed, even if they seem too serious for your brand. Keep an eye on social movements, campaigns, famous court cases, and social media discussions. Dare to articulate your position through the voice of your brand. Just be careful not to commit offence to anyone.
Burger King: Eat Like Andy
What they did: We actually wonder who came up with an idea to dive into the archives and extract an ancient piece of footage with Andy Warhol eating a Whopper. Looks like barely anyone even knew this clip existed before it was made into an ad. Whatever the story behind the scenes was, it turned out to be an ingenious move. No filming, no editing, no extra graphics, no celebrities, no expensive production involved – all the company did was purchase the rights to use the video. It could have cost them pretty much the same amount of money though.
Why it worked: Andy Warhol himself already represents one of the most significant brands of the XX century. The fact that he chose Whopper for his video performance is Burger King’s pure luck. What we have is indeed a very random, yet highly successful collaboration of two famous brands.
What we can learn from it: Before reinventing the wheel, stop and think for a moment: might there be a chance that someone’s already done something that we can utilize? Sometimes thorough research of the archives is all it takes to assemble a perfectly relevant ad that will appeal to both older and younger audiences. Just don’t forget to clear the rights.
Audi USA: Science Fair
What they did: The automobile advertisement industry is a niche that hasn’t seen anything original in quite a while. Same old scenery in the windows, same fabricated smiles on the drivers’ faces, same bold statements and promises of endless opportunities on the horizon. As boring as it sounds. And there we have marketers of Audi selling their electric car (a product of luxury, by the way!) through the story of a school science model contest. A scenario that you’d usually expect to see in a typical teenager movie, applied instead to a high class automobile ad. This is something we haven’t seen before – and it’s turned out to be a blast.
Why it worked: Good storytelling techniques never fail to hook the audience. The creators of the ad made more than just a commercial – they actually assembled a small movie with a properly built plot which features beginning, climax, and an unconventional finale (spoiler alert – the guys didn’t win the contest). Although the video is over 3 minutes long, you keep watching it to find out what the ending is.
What we can learn from it: A conclusion may seem quite banal, but that’s just how it works: don’t forget to think outside the box. We’re used to seeing posh goods in adverts surrounded with other attributes of a vividly luxurious life. However, it turns out that even expensive cars can be marketed in a totally different way. The audience will remember this ad much better than Audi’s competitors. So don’t be afraid to experiment.
Apple: Introducing iPhone 11
What they did: Nothing special, actually. This is simply an advertisement of high quality which does its job very well. Apple is keen to demonstrate its new phone’s water and impact resistance, and they cared to highlight these features. So they showcased typical situations that usually result in severe damage, which in turn forces the customer to pay for repair or buy a new gadget (apparently the new model solves this issue). They have also added some scenes revealing the potential of camera and battery. Emphasize everything with bold close-ups and slow-motion, top them with some minimalistic titles – and there you have it. Not too creative, yet beautiful and effective.
Why it worked: A great picture is always pleasant to look at. This ad is so typically Apple – with its signature minimalism and high quality in every detail that they are so proud of. There is no narrative in this commercial. What brings all its scenes together is that they all illustrate how the smartphone is going to behave when you drop it from the table, throw it into your bag or accidentally splash some water over it. The audience associates itself with the characters of the video, puts themselves into these scenarios, and that’s how they eventually decide if they need the gadget.
What we can learn from it: Imagine which difficulties your customers may face, and show them how you tackle those. This way they will understand why your product is exactly what they need. And don’t forget to show more of those beautiful close-ups, so the viewers are able to see the object in every detail.
One More Thing…
While watching all those great commercials by big brands, don’t forget that you can make one, too – and you don’t really need to hire a whole production company to do that. What matters most is the idea that you convey and the story you put into your scenario. As for technical aspects, you can even film it on your smartphone, as long as the quality of your camera is decent. A simple ad can even be assembled using an online video editor, so there’s no more hassle with downloading heavy software on your computer. And then – you never know – maybe your advertisement will be the next one to gain millions of views on Youtube.