Television advertising has traditionally been seen as an interruptive yet creative means of exposing audiences to a brand. There’s no denying the massive audience that television commands, not only in the United States and the UK but around the world, but it’s been said that audiences hate advertisements so much that they created technologies for avoiding them.
Many households have “pulled the plug” on television altogether, opting for on-demand television viewing with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Roku, HBOGo and many more alternative services. Add to that the Nielsen Global Survey revealing the decline in consumer trust of ads on television (from 62 percent in 2009 to 47 percent in 2012) and one would have to wonder how television advertising can or will stay relevant in the post-advertising age.
The answer? Storytelling.
While some emerging platforms and technologies have made it more difficult for television advertisements to reach an attentive audience, they have also made it easier for the best ads to spread. One of the common threads of many of the most shared and viewed advertisements is storytelling. Some stories provide a deep history; others make you laugh; and yet others may make you cry. These ads have a second, often more successful, life in digital format, in which mode they are passed from one person to the next.
Here are six ads that have embraced storytelling, thereby engaging audiences and garnering attention long past their airdate.
1. Dodge Ram—“God Made a Farmer”
This two-minute ad from the 2013 Super Bowl tells a moving story about the life of a farmer. Dodge isn’t a farming company but makes trucks for all those who are farmers, and this ad speaks to them.
2. Johnnie Walker—“The Man Who Walked Around the World”
This Johnnie Walker ad clocks in at five and a half minutes—far longer than any commercial on television could run —but tells the authentic story of the brand in just one take (the 40th, to be exact).
3. HBO—“I Still Have a Soul”
It may just be the fighter in me, but this commercial always gets me. A story of passion, sacrifice and perseverance, it gave deep context to the sport of boxing and what HBO was bringing to television in its late-night series Boxing After Dark, all without a single word of dialogue.
4. Chipotle—“Back to the Start”
A winner of the Cannes Film Lions Grand Prix, Chipotle’s first national ad was one of our favorite examples of successful long-form branded content. The ad helped audiences understand the brand’s commitment to a sustainable future.
5. Canadian Paralympic Committee—“Running (Unstoppable)”
This ad hits close to home after what happened in Boston a few weeks ago. The Canadian Paralympic Committee captured in reverse chronological order the story of how one man became an amputee, providing inspiration to us all.
6. Epuron—“The Wind”
At first I didn’t get it and thought the commercial had no point. Then it hit me, and I laughed out loud at my desk.
Did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments.