Hitting the spot without trying
A few companies are able to get away with anything with their commercials, and it’s often those that really make a mark on people. Brands that got their commercials band were Durex, 7-Up, and Axe, but these brands are also popular in their own industry. These commercials, and many more, were banned for a good number of reasons – they were either provocative or offensive, or probably both at the same time. They did have one thing in common though – they left a mark with their intended audience, which basically means that the commercial has done its job.
Viral advertisements are powerful
Commercials that got banned and those that didn’t have something, or some things, in common – they’re viral, they’re powerful, and they’re catch. Viral advertisements like the Old Spice Commercials with Isaiah Mustafa and Fabio are the reasons why brands are trying so hard in leaving their mark.
Another example of a viral advertisement is Evian’s “baby&me” commercial – featuring adults dancing with toddler versions of themselves in the reflection of a store window. It wasn’t until the end when people realized it was a commercial for Evian. Since its release in April, it has garnered 63 million views to date. On the other hand, Nestle’s “From Maine Water Springs to You: The Journey of Poland Springs Water” commercial has barely reached 500 mark, so where did one brand go wrong?
According to Thales S. Teixera, the main ingredient of viral videos is that it needs to be compelling enough to be watched by the viewer and to seek out people who he or she wants to share the video with. Teixeira is an assistant professor at Harvard Business School and has spent the last four years figuring out the factors that make or break online ads. Viral videos have also raised the stakes for advertisers – eMarketer believes that the USA Market for Online Video Advertising will increase from $1.1B in 2009 to $4.1B in 2013, marking an overall rise in spending from 4.3% to 11% of all advertising expenditures.
When asked about how firms can increase the likelihood of their ads going viral, Teixeira replied “People no longer want a lot of information about the products or brands in the advertisements they watch. In the past, when a company launched a new product, the advertisement would include all the information about the product so you could discover whether you wanted to buy it. But now we have all the information about all the new products available to us online. Now, we want ads to entertain us.”
But Teixeira also implied that it goes beyond entertainment as well. A successful viral ad campaign requires 4 steps – attract the viewer’s attention, retain that attention, getting the viewer to share the video, and persuading viewers. “The issue is that some content is better at the first stage, some is better at the second stage, some is better at the third, and some is better at the fourth. The challenge lies in getting the best mix of all four ingredients and baking them into your ad,” she said.
Good examples of provocative yet interesting advertisements
Now that we know how viral videos are made and how they become successful, we now look at the popular commercials that have stirred the attention and emotion of viewers from the United States and all over the world.
Dove – Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches is probably one of the most powerful ad campaigns ever created by the company. 3 months since its release in April 14, 2013, it has already raked in 56 million views. In their video description, only 4% of women around the world consider themselves as beautiful. In this commercial, a forensic sketch artist participates in a social experiment that explores how women view themselves contrary to what others see. The premise of the commercial is simple. The women walk in and have their picture drawn by the artist – who doesn’t see the women at all. Whilst waiting for their turn, there’s someone in the same room that stirs a conversation with women and also describes them to the artist. What you get is an emotional eye-opening commercial.
Axe – Axe should be the considered the epitome of viral advertisement, as their efforts for reaching out to the male audience have always been successful. Their latest commercial, the Morning After Pillow, strikes out as a “misogynistic” video by some of the women audience. Mashable’s Todd Wasserman points out that “Though the latest ad is in keeping with Axe’s long-running, tongue-in-cheek campaign presenting the grooming products as catnip for the ladies, some may view it as a disappointment.” In this video, Axe pokes fun at gender stereotype once again where women want to cuddle and men don’t. The video shows the Axe Inflatable Pillow that women cuddle so men can slither out of bed. The narrator in the video says “Maybe we haven’t warned you about the other side effect when using Axe: cuddling. That strange behaviour exhibited by every woman who falls under the Axe effect and that lasts all day.”
Dettol – This is a very provocative ad that revolves around one thing – you’re only a few handshakes away from someone who’s recently played with sex toys. In this video, a group of hands are touching one another, sort of like a relay. The left side shows a person holding a sex toy and proceeds to shake hands with other people. These people also proceed to shaking hands with other people, until the relay reaches to you. This is probably one of the very first commercials that involved a dildo without any sexual content. While hand sanitizers are flying off the shelves because it is flu season, people in Chile are more worried about subversive germs.
All of these commercials, and more, are considered as role models of viral advertisement. With their drive to really reach out to their intended audience, it’s no surprise that they are able to come up with the most ridiculous yet well thought-out commercials.