The uninitiated may think that advertisements are nothing but pure product promotion. While there might be an ounce of truth to the statement, most marketers know by now that a good advertisement is led by a story before anything else. Video marketing is most demanding when it comes to this: more than a compelling story, you need eye-catching visuals and pleasing audio to boot. With an astounding eight second attention span owned by most of the younger generation, video ads need to catch their attention within that insanely short timeframe, with hook, line, and sinker.
Whether you’re here to find inspiration for your next ad, on the lookout for some new advertising trends or just want to appreciate a good video ad, below we’ve collated some of the most popular ads this year so far. See for yourself!
Jollibee’s “A Message from the Future”
With the vaccination well into rolling out, and community cases stabilised, it might be safe to say that we’ve gotten over the worst of the pandemic, though the end of its reign may still be far into the future. With “A Message from the Future”, Jollibee reflects on the past year, and makes the claim that despite the terror of the pandemic, it has also been a year of family.
When COVID-19 first hit, all our lives were flipped on their heads. The words “new normal” became the norm as we all tried to get used to additional safety measures, social distancing, and staying at home. It was tough — some were separated from their families, others lost their livelihoods, and none of us knew how long this uncertainty would last. To mirror the hopelessness, the majority of the ad is in black and white. However, there was one thing that got a lot of us through it: family. Whether or not we could meet face to face, knowing that we had each other’s backs and the little time we could spend with our loved ones reminded us that not all was lost.
Remembering this injects colour back into our lives and in the video, as the family portrayed in the ad bond over a Jollibee dinner. With “A Message from the Future”, Jollibee reminds us to remain hopeful and supportive, even when times are tough.
Squarespace’s “5 to 9”
On the topic of makeovers, Dolly Parton’s hit single 9 to 5 undergoes one in Squarespace’s Super Bowl ad “5 to 9”, promoting Squarespace as the go-to service for websites for your side hustle. The lyrics were rewritten to illustrate the singer working a soul-sucking 9 to 5 office job, but feels rejuvenated with the passion of working on her side hustle (with Squarespace!) after office hours, or 5 to 9.
With Dolly Parton’s star power, a catchy tune, and eye-catching choreography to match, this ad had all it needed for viral success - but was received with mixed reaction. Some felt like Parton’s initial message of feminism and the right to work was commodified by the ad, glorifying overworking and side hustles some people resort to out of necessity rather than the aforementioned passion. Of course, it’s all up in the air: take a look at the video and judge for yourself.
Macmillan’s Whatever it Takes
As a charitable organisation, 98% of Macmillan Cancer Support’s income comes from public donations. Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, their main source of income was dealt a massive blow as cancer faded in the public’s minds in comparison to the COVID-19 virus, labelling the former as the “forgotten C”.
Turning to the public for help, the fundraising campaign “Whatever it Takes” was launched in January. Depicting an array of cancer patients’ experiences, from encouraging to gut-wrenching, the video portrays the people from Macmillan as individuals who will do anything to help those suffering from cancer—but also needs help to do so. This depiction does well to invoke not a two-dimensional sympathy from viewers, but to evoke a sense of empathy, as patients are not painted as faceless sufferers but people with hopes and dreams of their own. By the end of the video, Macmillan’s call to action is clear as it urges the public to donate to support their cause.
Noble cause aside, the video is a beautiful attempt to capture one fundamental truth: that people want to help others. The cinematography here is one to marvel at too, with poignant shots and thoughtful scenes, clinching a Graphite Pencil in the 2021 D&AD awards.
McDonald’s “The BTS Meal”
Celebrity endorsements are nothing new. Just as Rihanna has partnered with PUMA and Justin Bieber with Calvin Klein, McDonald’s recently partnered with BTS to create “The BTS Meal”, to be promoted almost worldwide. While riding on a celebrity figure’s fame isn’t necessarily the freshest idea, the choice McDonald’s made here is rather brilliant — K-pop has been known to have pretty hardcore fans, devoted to individuals and groups of their choice, as well as merch.
It’s no surprise that BTS fans, or Army, are then treating the meal as such. Videos of fans laminating the novel BTS meal packaging and creating their own merchandise from the set have gone viral. Whether fans of the ban or amused spectators, almost everyone knows about the promotion as a result. The ad shows BTS themselves promoting the meal, which happens to be their go-to order, yet another strategic move fans would buy into to feel closer to their idols. Throughout the ad, the video plays BTS’ newest single and ends with a twist on the traditional McDonald’s jingle, with BTS singing the tune.
“#StopTheBeautyTest” aims to put out one resounding message: women should not be held to one standard of beauty. Dove India sought out real women to share when they felt insecure, ashamed, or even rejected because of their looks, and found that women in India are most vulnerable when they are of “marriageable” age, feeling as though they had to have all aspects of themselves approved by their in-laws, even when it came to their appearances.
Five women, each representing different facets of physical insecurity are shown in the ad, including height, weight, and fairness among others. Something to note is how women are the biggest critics in the video. Though often said in jest or from a mother with good intentions, it goes to show how deep rooted physical judgement can be, and that it can come in many forms.
Where Dove is one of the biggest brands in India, the ad seeks to establish beauty as a source of confidence, rather than insecurity, and above all, urges viewers to stop the beauty test.
Amazon’s “Alexa’s Body”
Amazon’s Super Bowl commercial this year features Michael B. Jordan as the new vessel for Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant. This ad unabashedly draws on Jordan’s sex appeal, with him (or Alexa) practically seducing his owner throughout the video.
Alexa sensually responds to each of her requests, taking something as simple as reading a book to her into the bath becoming a provocative situation (even as others need to use the restroom!). A layer of humour is added to the ad as the woman’s husband plays the straight man, responding to Alexa skeptically throughout.
Central Narcotic Bureau’s “Down the Rabbit Hole”
When it comes to raising social awareness, it’s easy for the messenger to sound preachy to an audience. Though well-intended, no one wants to listen to someone with a holier-than-thou attitude. With a feature by The Straits Times, Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB)’s latest project does no such thing. Drawing references from the classic Alice in Wonderland, “Down the Rabbit Hole” is a refreshing, yet foreboding cautionary tale about the dangers of drug abuse and trafficking.
Rather than the usual scare tactics of simply showing sickly addicts on screen, this video takes viewers through the journey towards drug addiction — or down the rabbit hole, so it seems — ironically using elements of fantasy to depict the very real problem of peer influence and addiction.
A seemingly harmless freebie (spoiler alert, its Ice, or crystal methamphetamine) ultimately brings its abusers to ruin, their lives collapsing under the health and financial burden of funding the addiction. The message is clear: when it comes to drugs, no one gets a happily ever after, with our White Queen, our narrator and drug trafficker, landing herself in handcuffs by the end of the video.
To promote its new App Tracking Transparency feature, Apple launched “Tracked”, a goofy, lighthearted video that in actuality broaches a more serious topic: privacy. With close to 27 million views since the ad dropped only a month ago, it’s clear that this strategy was an effective and entertaining one!
In the video, unwanted third party trackers most of us are all too familiar with are brought to life as people. They follow our befuddled protagonist, Felix, as he goes about his day, taking note of his personal information, location, and even the smallest of preferences. Felix then activates the new tracking transparency feature, and just like that, the trackers disappear.
Apple’s stance on privacy becomes crystal clear in this ad. It’s not against the act of tracking itself, but would rather have the process be transparent and more importantly, consented, by the user. Not only does this video promote the new feature here, but also wonderfully raises awareness of privacy online, a privilege some of us too easily give up.
Face a l'Inceste’s “Two Monsters in My Story”
(content warning: child abuse & sexual assault)
When it comes to victims of any crime, the law should and relevant institutions should protect and defend them should they come forward. Instead, in France, child victims of incestuous sexual abuse have to prove the absence of consent, placing additional emotional burden on these minors by forcing them to relieve their trauma repeatedly throughout their legal battles.
French organisation Face à l’Inceste, acting for child protection, seeks to change this. Through the eyes of a child, “Two Monsters in My Story” shares the all-too-common story of a child fearing that there’s a monster in their closet, all the while living with a real monster under his own roof. The animated short raises awareness of the issue of child abuse while questioning the legal framework in place, implying that it helps perpetrators rather than victims, and calls for viewers to sign Face à l’Inceste’s petition calling for change. The combination of the child’s first person voiceover and the medium of choice, animation—often associated with children— drives home the gravity of the matter: that such atrocities are committed against a young, innocent child. The gloomy, dark colours and ominous music add another threatening layer to the video, emphasising that perpetrators continue to lurk in the shadows.
The short has won a number of awards, including a coveted Yellow Pencil for animation in the D&AD awards 2021. This is a gut-wrenching one to watch, and will likely linger in your mind for a while to come.
NTUC Income’s “Made For the Moments that Matter”
With “Made for the Moments that Matter”, NTUC Income sends across the message that financial planning isn’t a one-size-fits-all service, especially when every individual faces different obstacles and has different goals in life. The ad takes a peek at the vastly different private lives of a diverse group of Singaporeans to reflect this spirit.
A touching advertisement that appeals to viewers’ emotions may not sound that unconventional, but what really makes this ad stand out lies within its medium. Not only does it veer off the beaten path through the use of drone FPV (first-person view flying), but shoots the whole ad all in one-take! The result is a stunning combination of emotion and impressive cinematography.
You have what it takes
You’ve probably realised that these popular ads have one commonality: that they all evoke some form of emotion from their viewers, whether it’s empathy, excitement, or something in between. Feeling inspired? Book a consultation with us! We’re pretty good storytellers and definitely have some tricks up our sleeve. Whether you’ve got a melodramatic story idea in mind, or want to test out some experimental medium, we’ve got you covered.
Here at Big 3 Media, we're a Singapore video production company that offers a suite of services to market your business during these challenging times:
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