What Makes a Successful Video Advertisement?

Most Shared Video Advertisements of June 2014

We’ve all fallen victim to the entertainment of a good advertisement. We eagerly wait for them in the Super Bowl and constantly share them on all our friends’ Facebook walls when we find one that we can’t get enough of. But what is it that makes an ad great? A recent article for ReelSEO charts the top 20 most shared advertisements in the month of June. As we know, advertisements can be hit or miss, but as of late commercials have needed to earn the interest of the viewer more. Given the large shift from watching content on television to on personal computers, the average person isn’t forced to see as many commercials as compared to years prior. Because of this, companies are vying for the attention of the viewer–finding new and creative ways to amuse while showcasing their products. Commercials are becoming more than mere advertisements: they are becoming content and entertainment of their own.

Keeping in mind that we are in World Cup season, the top ads may be a little skewed; however, I maintain that the three most impactful and successful topics to center a commercial around tend to be: Comedy, Emotion and Sports. Using the top 20 advertisements of June 2014, we can break down and analyze which commercials gained most attention and why.

Purina: Dear Kitten (251,934 shares)
Hello Flo: First Moon Party (232,306 shares)
Laughter is infectious, but in commercials it has to appeal to a wide variety of people. What some find funny, others may deem immature or crude. The successful comedic value in the “Purina: Dear Kitten commercial” appeals to animal lovers who relate to what a seasoned cat has to say to a young kitten entering the household. The commercial puts into words the common antics of cats that so many people find entertaining and lovable. The comedic value in turn plays off the viewer’s thoughts about their own animals and the funny memories this triggers.

The “Hello Flo: First Moon Party” commercial takes on an entirely different form of comedy that, while not as universally applicable as the Purina commercial, is still very successful. This commercial took the concept of a young girl’s first period–something usually very personal, confusing, and awkward– and turned into a comedic tale of a daughter’s fib about getting her period and her mother’s over-the-top reaction. The comedic value lies in the embarrassment for the young girl: the crazy things her mother does, such as getting a uterus shaped pinata for her daughter, inspires audience laughter at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation. Clearly, the comedic success in this commercial stems from what is often known as “cringe comedy”–our natural instinct as humans to laugh at an embarrassing or inappropriate situation. This commercial banks on the audience reacting in this expected way, and it works!

Volkswagen-Eyes on the Road (415,016 shares)
Dove: Calls For Dad #RealDadMoments (242,248 shares)
Ah, the age-old emotional trigger of pathos–reaching into the hearts of the audience in order to create an impactful message. This method still reigns effective today, as these three commercials demonstrate the use of emotion to attract viewers. In the Volkswagen ad, we experience fear–the shock of a deadly car crash the second viewers look down at their phones to read a text message. Fear tends to instill strong memories and images in our heads, and the Volkswagen commercial pairs this with sharp edits and blunt statistics to ensure the audience understands the gravity of the situation. Furthermore, the “experimental” nature of the video gives credibility to the directors that viewers tend to appreciate.

In the Dove commercial, we are all brought to tears through the familiar and endearing calls for Dad to which so many can relate. From toddlers to adults, this commercial frames simple and loving moments that are easy for viewers to imagine. The relatability of this advertisement is successful because so many people at any phase of life resonate with an aspect of this video. It is simple in design, using merely the word “Dad” in clips accompanied by emotional music to tap into our hearts. The rest is left up to our own imagination and memories. We can see that on the emotional level, this ad is successful due to the personal connection the audience is able to make with the video – and the simplicity of the positive message.

Activia Shakira – La La La (Brazil 2014)  (2,722,088 shares)
Beats By Dre: The Game Before the Game (412,977 shares)
Lastly, we come to analyze the impact of sports commercials–the emotion, the suspense, and the pride all wrapped into one powerful advertisement. Given the universal applicability of sports, in addition to the fact that nearly every individual has played or at least watched some sort of athletic activity, there is an already loyal audience heavily invested in any certain sport. The World Cup is a slam dunk [for lack of better words] in terms of reaching a loyal audience– it is always a significant international event that a built-in fanbase looks forward to. The “unofficial theme song” of the World Cup by Shakira is a music video masking a yogurt commercial. Activia successfully uses the excitement surrounding the World Cup, the pride so many people feel for their own countries, and popular soccer players to make a yogurt look like the coolest kid on the block. As sports commercials tend to make people feel energized and enthusiastic, the soccer tricks, sites, and stars that the Activia commercial uses resonate strongly with the target audience.

The Beats By Dre commercial similarly takes advantage of the hype of the World Cup. Beats follows Brazilian soccer star Neymar in a dramatic commercial as he listens to a message from his father and gets ready for a game. The suspense and timing of his father’s words leave the audience engaged and curious for his next piece of advice. Adding further exhilaration, the commercial is accompanied by a bass heavy song to pump up the audience and sports stars from across the grid–basketball, tennis, announcers etc–as well as average people all eager for the World Cup to begin. We can see the success in this commercial is due to the unique emotion created in exciting the audience as well as the relatable feeling of being ready to compete and win. This commercial successfully portrays the product (Beat headphones) as a desirable item that is crucial to the success of these players’ game.

While each of these commercials is unique, they all are successful for a similar reason: they connect to their audiences in a memorable manner. It may be difficult to place a finger on what exactly makes a perfect commercial, but comedy, emotion, and sports have clearly been successful topics in the month of June. What might July have in store for us?

by Mackenzie Hummel

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