“I don’t like when ads take matters too seriously,” I hear a person echo in from the other room from a heated discussion about unimaginative car commercials. “Yeah,” another person adds, “If it’s not clever it’s not worth it.” It’s clear that entertaining ads reach customers much more effectively.
Talking geckos, dancing ponies, and wordplay (think Kmart’s “Ship my pants”) – these are the marks of modern age advertising. Advertising isn’t just about products. Viewers want to be entertained.
WHY THE LONG FACE?
While the desire for entertainment is not new, the recent trend of wanting the fun and the bizarre is largely due to America’s workaholic culture. Surveys show that about 39% of consumers across age groups say they don’t have enough leisure time.
Americans are anxious and stressed, they are looking for ways to escape work and life pressures. We’re seeing a rise in gamification across all sectors, from exercise apps to Expedia points to project management platforms. In addition, traditionally child-oriented brands such as Disney and Barbie maintain their popularity with their consumers through their adult years.
Consumers are familiar with all of the advertising strategies and tricks. It doesn’t matter if your product is the best thing since Netflix; boring advertising is boring advertising and it won’t compete with more entertaining ads. Leisure time is expected to be fun and playful, and brands that want to be a part of that leisure time should follow suit.
UTILIZING THE TREND
Some brands caught onto this trend quickly and have focused on creating entertaining ads. Viewers expect to be enthralled by stories and big ideas, not bored by a list of product benefits. Below are some commercials that have broken the mold to entertain their viewers. Let’s take a look at what makes them successful.
SUBARU: BEST FRIEND
Car commercials don’t deviate much from the standard list of specs, safety features, and awards. Throw in some scenes of the car speeding across the desert, maybe a high-tech look at the interior, and you have yourself a commercial. Subaru takes a different approach. They focus mostly on a dog rather than the vehicle. Why did it work? It’s a story communicated in 30 seconds with enough emotion to draw attention.
WREN STUDIO: FIRST KISS
WREN studios asked 20 strangers to kiss for the first time…
This video went viral, framed as a social experiment. The opening slide calls it nothing more than “First Kiss: a film by Tatia Pilieva.” However, a little link in the description says that the film is “Presented by WREN.”
Sure enough, the video is a covert advertisement for a small online clothing store, and all the actors in the video are wearing pieces from the shop. While it seems like the initiative could not have been entirely successful given the lack of branding elements in the actual film, the controversy that arose when the film’s true source came into the spotlight surely sparked interest in the otherwise small and very unknown brand.
A guy trying, era after era, to catch the attention of a girl he fell in love with in the Stone Age? It sounds more like a romance novel than a commercial. While the video doesn’t deviate much from Axe’s usual “we’ll get you a girl” message, the storytelling is charming and unexpected. The ending is clever enough to leave a lasting impression. And who doesn’t love a good love story?
If you want to be a part of your audience’s leisure time, make entertaining ads. And this isn’t just for commercials – Entertainment carries value across all mediums in all industries. Take the time to explore how to inspire warm feelings in your audience.