8 remarkable video ad campaigns from 2021 (and why they worked)
In 2021, 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool. Thanks to the unending advancement of social tools and technology, making video content for your campaigns has never been easier to do. But that also means that it's getting harder to cut through the noise.
So how do you create remarkable videos that drive results? You need to create something that's bold, gives a strong brand voice, and is perfectly tailored to your audience and their customer journey.
From discovery to engagement to conversion, people continue to harness video as an integral part of their journey with brands, and by 2022 video’s set to dominate 82% of global internet traffic. Plus, it's already more popular and effective on social than other content types, like images.
If you need some video inspiration, let's take some notes from some of the best ad campaigns we've seen this year and the video strategies that made them work.
What makes a great video ad?
Before we get to the good stuff, let's do a quick recap of the major elements of a successful video ad. A great video ad should, with a few exceptions, meet the following criteria:
1. It GRABs ATTENTIONS IN THE FIRST FEW SECONDS.
In an increasingly busy online world, first impressions count. Your video should use the first 3 seconds to grab your audience's attentions with something eye-catching.
2. It KEEPs VIEWERS INVESTED WITH AN EMOTIONAL CORE.
Your viewer's time is precious, so make it count. Appeal to their emotions — if your video doesn't make them feel like it's useful, entertaining, or inspiring, they won't waste their time.
3. It's TAILORED SPECIFICALLY TO your AUDIENCE.
Video ads are great because you can target them extremely carefully. Have your ideal audience's customer journey in mind when you're strategising your video campaigns, and you'll make sure you're speaking to them at each stage of their customer journey.
4. It has A CLEAR CALL-TO-ACTION.
Make the most of your video by giving your audience a clear and easy next step. What do you want them to do after they've watched your video?
5. It's NO LONGER THAN IT NEEDS TO BE.
A lot of successful ads are several minutes long, but they're still punchy and concise. Take as long as you need to communicate your core message, and no longer.
8 EXCELLENT EXAMPLES OF VIDEO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS THAT WORKED
1. HEINZ: ‘DRAW KETCHUP’
The biggest flex a brand can do is dominate a product category so indisputably, consumers can hardly think of anyone else. Well, Heinz has only gone and done exactly that with its ketchup.
In this video by Canadian agency Rethink, they challenge people around the world to "draw ketchup". Unsurprisingly, this project revealed that when asked to draw ketchup, everyone will draw an instantly-regognisable Heinz bottle — well, everyone apart from 'Mr. Mustard' at the end there, who clearly didn't understand the assignment.
2. NETFLIX: 'FANS MAKE THE MOVIES'
The Ikorodu Bois are a group of brothers and one cousin from Lagos, Nigeria who remake their favourite movie trailers in their free time, employing a mix of ingenious DIY to recreate mega-budget films on a shoestring. What they do, they do for the joy of it.
They first caught Netflix's eye when they remade the trailer for Extraction in June 2020, which prompted Netflix to send them a package of professional filmmaking gear.
The result is an ad that captures the Bois' passion for entertainment. It has a nostalgic and whimsical feel that reminds the viewer of the magic of movies, and cleverly puts the focus on celebrating real movie lovers, instead of their product — something we may not be expecting.
When we watch it, it makes us feel seen — yes us, the ordinary folk sitting in our pants enthusiastically reciting lines from Pulp Fiction while Dorito crumbs fall from our mouths (just me?).
Above all, it makes us smile.
3. EXTRA GUM: ‘FOR WHEN IT’S TIME‘
There haven't been many ads that have gone down the route of acknowledging lockdowns and the c-bomb successfully. It's a sensitive and risky game to reference something like that for consumer gains. But Extra have done it, and they've done it well.
Why do they get away with it? It's funny. Like, really, desperately, tragically relatable. The tone is the kind of comic relief that gen z and millennials found in memes throughout this whole mess.
This is an example of a brand that knows their target, knows what they'll find funny, and knows how to execute a potentially sensitive subject to provide that uncomfortable laugh.
4. SPINNEYS: ‘THE BREAD EXAM’
'In Lebanon, Breast Cancer is often diagnosed too late to be cured', the video starts. In it, we learn that it's a cultural reality that Lebanon considers talking about breasts taboo and 'embarrassing'. That's why cancer foundation Spinneys needed to spread a tutorial about breast exams without the utterance of the word 'breast'.
The result is a breast exam cleverly disguised as a 'bread exam', showing Chef Um Al expertly working with two balls of dough while careful instructing viewers on how to assess it for optimal baking and 'healthy bread'. By avoiding the word 'breast', this video was able to spread globally, including the Middle East.
It's an excellently-executed, purpose-driven and insightful campaign that yielded its desired results for its target audience — raising vital awareness and sparking life-saving conversations.
5. VISIT ICELAND: ‘THE ICELANDVERSE’
Pitched and created in a matter of days, this tourism campaign is a great example of what we call 'reactive marketing'.
Led by Iceland's "chief visionary officer" Zack Mossbergsson, this video was a very obvious parody response to the (mildly unnerving) Facebook rebrand announcement video with Zucks himself discussing the Metaverse.
The film uses this parody style to advertise the natural beauty of Iceland as a world people can experience and explore now—without the need for a "silly" VR headset. Yes, it's funny, but it's also an incredible sales pitch for the country — a combo hard to get right but highly effective when it happens.
The results speak for themselves: in less than a week, it had been viewed around the world by more than 6 million people without any media spend. Wowza.
6. BURBERRY: ‘OPEN SPACES’
Cinematically beautiful, this ad is 2 minutes of pure freedom — a feeling there hasn't exactly been an abundance of this year.
With very subtle product placement, this is a film by a designer clothing brand that knows it doesn't need to shove its latest garms in your face. The focus is really on the story; a story which, as it unfolds in its dreamlike way, keeps the intrigue and attentions of its audience masterfully.
Side note: it also makes me want to go outside, take a deep breath, and touch some nice grass. Anyone else?
7. AMAZON: ‘ALEXA’S BODY’
A SuperBowl ad that got everyone talking was Amazon's wildly funny and innuendo-filled product video depicting Michael B. Jordan as the literal embodiment of their trusty assistant.
This one was memorable because of the obvious, but it also provided a really effective product demonstration. Who says explaining how your product works has to be boring?
8: SLACK: 'THINGS ARE BETTER IN SLACK' SERIES
Slack's video series 'Things are better in slack' concisely explains all the individual benefits of using Slack in just 15 seconds. They demonstrate that Slack knows their target's daily struggles, they're brightly coloured and eye-catching, and they perfectly reflect their brand.
Best of all, they say just enough to tell you all the little ways your workday can be improved by using Slack. No over-explaining, no waffling. Just simple, easy to digest snippets of pure benefit-led gold.
By keeping them 15 seconds long, they keep attentions and get to the point quickly. This also means they can post them across all their channels easily and fit them in paid advertisements on youtube.
And there we have it! Those were 8 examples of video advertising campaigns that grab their audience's attention, keep them engaged and ultimately manage to share their message. What do they have in common? All of them have their target audience in mind and aim to make that audience feel something.
Video ads are just one part of your video content marketing strategy. In your video strategy, you need to cover how video content works to support your goals throughout the marketing funnel. Be sure to include a healthy mix of paid, earned and owned kinds of video to cover all your bases when it comes to reaching your target audience consistently and comprehensively.
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