What Makes Commercials Stand Out?
DVR and TiVo have given us the power to record missed episodes, rewind plays, and skip commercials – features that are nothing short of god-like. No one likes getting cut in the middle of a TV episode just to hear a thirty-second infomercial about 9-out-10-dentists agreeing on a brand of toothpaste. Ever since television joined the ranks of established entertainment media, commercials have been the bane of our existence. The very fact that technology to skim through them is being sold (and snatched up by the millions) just proves this.
But could TV have survived without commercials?
When done properly, commercials provide entertainment value in addition to a sales pitch. Successful commercials have a few notable characteristics in common:
THEY ARE POP CULTURE
In 2010, the Elephant Cairo Agency created a series of television commercials aptly titled; Never Say No to Panda. If you’re already giggling, my point is made. If not, you will soon. Advertising Panda Cheese, these videos all feature a giant panda silently terrorizing every person who refuses to purchase or try the Panda Cheese brand.
No amount of words do it justice, so feel free to Google it.
Long story short, the commercials became a viral internet hit. As if that wasn’t enough, the commercial series won two grands prix at the Dubai Lynx International Advertising Festival, a Silver Film Lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival, and a Gold for Film at the Epica Awards.
This is just one beautiful example of how commercials can be so memorable, they become listed as pop culture. Some other beautiful ones include Volkswagen’s The Force hit in 2011 and Snicker’s You’re Not You When You’re Hungry in 2010.
GRANDFATHER OF ALL MARKETING VIDEOS
Commercial production paved the way for all forms of digital marketing videos we see now. Explainer videos, how-to videos, infomercials, corporate videos – all of these have roots in good ol’ television commercials. The format may be different, but the recipe remains the same; engage, entertain, and inform – all under thirty seconds or less.
This is why you can’t remove completely remove commercials from marketing campaigns. They’re the original, tried-and-tested, audio-visual combination that remains one of advertising’s most effective weapons.
ENGAGING, INVOKING RESPONSES
Commercials engage the viewers. The really well-done ones can invoke a response. From controversial commercials that got banned due to their message/concept, to memorable commercials that stuck with us because of cheesy one-liners or even genuine “d’awww-inspiring” moments, commercial production deserves more than we give them credit for.
Commercials give us something to talk about. They unconsciously set trends for the generation. They can surprise, delight, and entertain even the best of us.
Coke and Pepsi’s epic rivalry over the years was built on their blatant disregard for advertising laws, openly bashing the opposing brand in their adverts and commercials. Think of how much thirty-second gold makes up their rivalry archives. Companies are forever competing for those premium spots known as Super Bowl commercials. These commercials later on get immortalized via direct upload and online streaming. To this day, articles that list the top ten, fifteen, twenty commercials of the season are still being published.
Like it or not, commercials – despite digital media breakthrough – still hold the power to make or break a brand.