A Millennials Take on the Evolution of Advertising
From a 1940s Band-Aid Ad, to Kenzo and Dove’s Digital Storytelling
The web went crazy for this Kenzo perfume ad over the summer. If you haven’t seen it yet, now’s the time to get caught up. Directed by Spike Jonze, it features Margaret Qualley (of The Leftovers fame) dancing in spectacular fashion, in a video that’s reminiscent of Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice.
How To Be Chosen When Choice is Everywhere?
The challenge with advertising today is creating something that people will actually choose to watch. And Kenzo have achieved that with over 4 million views on Youtube alone. That’s 4 million people who chose to watch this content. That’s amazing.
Before the internet era, if we wanted entertainment (at least on TV), we were basically forced to watch adverts. Advertising was a toll paid to the entertainment gods, and the distinction between ads and entertainment was real. Check out this Band-Aid ad from the 1940s. Can you imagine choosing to watch this? I bet most of you won’t get past the first sentence. Now of course we had choices. We could go pee or nip out to the kitchen. But we didn’t have a phone in our hand with a zillion other media options we could consume during the commercial. We didn’t even have a remote control in our hand to mute the TV. Our choices where limited. And so yes, these were simpler times for advertisers. They didn’t have to work so hard to entertain us.
As Consumer Choice Increased, Advertising Got More Interesting
Advertising didn’t wait for the internet to get interesting. Already choice was on the rise. Three broadcast networks grew to 30 (and then 70) cable channels (in many homes). So advertisers had to work harder to grab us. I grew up in the 90s and I remember jingle’s being a huge thing. Around the time I was eight or nine, I started to become interested in the content of ads. My sister and I would discuss various ones we’d seen as though they were short TV shows. I remember my Mother getting frustrated that all we wanted to talk about were ‘Things’ we’d seen advertised. I think she missed the point though. We weren’t talking about the things, we were talking about the way in which those things were presented.
Like this Jaffa Cakes ad. I grew up in Ireland, so I’m not sure they are/were a thing in the US. In case you’ve never had the pleasure, Jaffa Cakes are these amazing cookies with a soft sponge base, orange jello, and dark chocolate. They’re delicious. This ad became famous in Ireland, and I fully remember re-enacting the ‘Total Eclipse’ as many times as I could get away with.
So call me a spoiled millennial, but I grew up expecting ads to entertain me. With so many things tugging on my time, I’m not about to pay attention to a brand if I don’t see an immediate benefit.
The Big Mashup of Entertainment (Or Storytelling or Content or Whatever You Want to Call It) and Advertising
There are two ways of looking at how advertising works today. In one camp (my camp) there are the people who are delighted by the blending of entertainment and advertising. Then we have the other camp, who feel that entertaining advertising is insidiously deceptive. Some people watch the Kenzo ad in amazement, and then feel betrayed at the end when they realise it’s “just” an ad. I would argue this fact does not make the video any less creative, the dancing any less spectacular, the concept any less unique. And they got my attention. So good on them.
Think about the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty for a moment. That’s entertainment (or at least strong story-telling) advertising with a more serious, social edge. Some people are delighted that a big brand is taking on the topic of diverse beauty. Others are upset because a big brand is taking on the topic of diverse beauty. They feel that the brand is capitalizing on an important social movement – and they are. But sometimes the end justifies the means, and if Dove’s campaign gets us closer to where we need to be, then I’m all for it.
I’m not alone in my thinking either. Their campaign has been running for 12 years now, has experienced multiple re-births, and has achieved more viral views than their paid advertising ever did. Also, by listening to their audience, Dove has shifted the focus of their campaign from physical beauty to more internally beautiful traits.
Rules #1-100: Be Interesting
Entertainment is key, and not just for big brands. Whether you’re shooting content with a fancy LA film crew at your beck and call, or just snapping short vids on your iPhone (or somewhere in between with a well-priced and amazing BKW film crew ) you need to be interesting. Lazy advertising doesn’t cut it. You need to be creative and have fun with your content. The more fun you have creating it, the more fun your potential customers will have watching it.
Also, entertainment advertising is less about your brand and more about a feeling. Don’t describe what your product does, show us how it makes you feel. Don’t tell us about your brand’s core mission, align it with social movements that reflect it. Don’t be an interruption, be a vital part of the conversation.
This article was originally published on BKWPartners.com