Back in the 50s and 60s, cartoon or animation has always been used in commercials aimed at children. Kellogs led the pack with many of its cartoon commercials featuring cute characters, jingles, and child-friendly voiceovers.
The broader question remains, can animation marketing be used for a wider audience, young and old alike? Supporters of this medium say animation can build awareness and attention to any audience. Naysayers argue that this medium is limited and is only effective with children.
Animation has rather evolved over time! To track down the entire process of evolution of animation from entertainment to business marketing, read about its journey through time here!
Quick heads up, this is going to take a long while. So, if you’re running low on time, feel free to jump to any of the sections below:
In an ever-flooded B2C space, if you are one of the brands trying out every possible marketing tactic then you know this really well: Attention is the most valuable gift that your audience can give to you. But, your worst enemy is the attention span. This silent killer can badly sabotage your brand's business.
However, let us be honest here and ask ourselves this question: How long can we hold up our attention? We throw a glimpse at an ad, an email, a website and if there is nothing present to grasp our attention right away, we hit back. Haven't all of us been there, done that?
With so many distractions surrounding the modern customers, animation commercials come off as an impeccable weapon in your arsenal of video marketing tools. Let us check some contemporary trends in the world of cartoon commercials to check where does animation stand in video marketing in the 21st century.
While a lot of the trends from 2018 will flow into 2019, VR/AR would be up there right at the top. Animation and motion graphics in a VR and AR setting open up a host of different possibilities and increase the scope for imaginative ideas that could work wonders on immersive platforms for cartoon marketing videos. Let us look at a marvelous VR animation made by Google Spotlight Stories:
Animation and motion graphics will also have to adapt to multiple platforms without losing its core message. A video which can do that would be at the forefront of the B2C marketplace.
Seamless transitions in animation is another trend that has been getting better each year and a large part of the reason is huge advancements in cel animation. Cel animation is also popularly known as frame-by-frame animation and it helps animation commercials flow smoothly, without getting disoriented. Let’s watch one such video published by PlusOne on Vimeo for Soa Aids Nederland:
With so many favourable trends for animated cartoon commercials at your disposal, you may now be definitely interested in looking at some awestrucking video examples from a variety of industries. Let's watch now!
'You are the same as me!', 'Difference is beautiful!', 'Together is beautiful too!'...So many beautiful messages in just one minute. This is Coca Cola celebrating how a bottle of Coke can bring people together and tie them in an invisible bond of compassion. This advert is a classic example of how the choice of right colors in an animated advert can trigger a great brand recall among the viewers. Kudos to Psyop for putting out this artistic marvel:
With a heartful message of 'Belong Anywhere', Airbnb elucidates how hosting guests is like giving them a piece of one's heart. Airbnb is truly symbolic of providing a selfless hosting experience to its guests and giving them the warmth of belongingness. Oddfellows, in this aesthetic video, has very intelligently used the analogy of superheroes and justified it to the fullest extent:
Who wouldn't want to know some tips to up their dating game? In under 3 minutes, this web commercial made by us for Match binds the attention of the viewers by talking about how to get a perfect match for them. Hey, I'll go and watch the video again to refresh my dating rules:
The thought of dealing with health insurance could actually make you want to stay in bed. But, here's Oscar health insurance breaking the monotonous stereotypes and establishing that health insurances aren't about grim advertising and illnesses anymore. In as little as 30 seconds, this commercial advert by Buck is able to show a remarkable transition from what most health insurances currently look like and how hassle-free the process can get with Oscar.
Legal matters could be really complicated. In a world where timely justice and relief are so widely sought, legal first aid and qualified lawyers should be just at a hand's reach. That exactly what Text Lawyer does for you! In our collaboration with this legal service, we wanted to showcase how the two parties to a car accident can seek redressal and relief by opting for quick and spontaneous legal help:
Too often introverts across the world, shy away from sharing the gifts they've got as a person. This Christmas greetings advert from Apple, with very subtle product placement, puts forth a very beautiful message of never shying or hiding away because of a self-developed fear of rejection.
Metaphoric storytelling has always been my favorite. An engaging plot and impactful voice-overs, make this comic strip animated commercial an absolute visual treat. Honestly, before watching this video made by my company, I always thought that real estate advertising is all about flashing fancy houses in salesy commercials.
I have seen countless typographic videos, but this one remains my favourite. With very funky and upbeat music in the background, Starbucks successfully managed to turn heads towards its 'Grassroots' movement and instill the feeling of togetherness. Here's an exemplary video from BBDO, if you do not wish to go too extravagant with your first animation commercial:
You would have seen a lot of plumbing services ads. And, all that you must have seen would have been faucets and fixtures. Here's a fresh and unconventional take on how a plumbing company can market the timeliness and accessibility of its service, without having the need to be salesy. Handcrafted with love, fun, and quirk at our company for Raptor Plumbing, here is one of the most light-hearted cartoon TV commercials that you will ever come across:
The answer is no. More and more luxury brands are using animation as a mainstay in their communication. In fashion marketing which was traditionally dominated by anorexic models walking ramps and close-ups of the product, animation has evolved as a necessary medium. I explore this in a separate article: Is Animation the New Black in Fashion Brand Marketing? Animated cartoon commercials are also garnering mainstream attention with beauty products. Here is a video by L'Occitane.
Now, not just a beauty brand, but a sunglasses brand chose to take the route of animated commercials to ditch the status quo and make a mark of its own in animated advertising. Let's look at one of a kind motion flick animation from Persol:
Now, after watching these adverts, if we were to sum up how animation helps B2C brands to hit it out of the park, here are some pointers-
Animation commercials have the ability to portray serious or even traumatic subject matters in a way that can instill faith and positive inspiration. Let's look at a man's first-hand account about recovery from cancer.
One of the best things about animated commercials is that you can easily have them edited to use in multiple mediums. They can be easily repurposed for selling different products or services. It’s easier and more cost-effective to adapt animated ads to changing seasons giving you additional return on investment and increased reach. Let’s look at a teaser film that we made for a roofing company, from an animated commercial which was originally 1 minute and 42 seconds long. Here's our collaboration with Hippo Roofing, for an animation tv commercial:
Animated commercials help create an enduring brand image. Most companies focus on celebrity power to energize their brands. However, the fact is that their campaigns end as soon as the career of the celebrity ends.
On the other hand, animated characters that take the role of a brand mascot or spokesperson stand the test of time. The animated brand mascots that you create will remain a star for decades without fading into oblivion. One of the most iconic examples that comes to my mind when I think about cartoon TV commercials is of Vodafone's Zoozoos: Adorable, easily recallable and exquisite:
"Animation or not, bad products always fail"
We have a lot of examples where great advertising couldn’t salvage bad products. A great example of this is "Microsoft Vista". Microsoft sunk in 500 Million dollars on an awareness campaign for Vista at a time when the product wasn't ready to be shipped. The campaign was so effective that the users rushed into download the untested release and faced serious issues with performance and compatibility. This caused a huge backlash in the Microsoft community.
"Good advertising is the fastest way to kill a bad product".
Apple took this opportunity with both their hands and created a series of Vista bashing spots called 'Get a Mac'. The series featured actor Justin Long dressed up like a young Steve Jobs (Reminding that a mac is ageless) and John Hodgkin pale, pudgy and with glasses (Like a tiring Bill Gates).
At about 4:11, Apple even makes fun of Microsoft’s product strategy, where they show John Hodgkin stacks copious amount of money for advertising and throws in a stack of two to resolve Vista’s problems. They do that again at around 5:45 where they show John Hodgkin trying to raise money for Vista via a Bake sale. The trouble was while Apple was digging at Microsoft’s misfortune, they were absolutely spot on with the ground reality and connected with its audience Instantly. They even created an animated version at around 7:41, adding more brownie points to my central argument across this article.
In one particular spot shown below, Apple touts Vista's new annoying security feature:
This celebrated spot had several layers of messaging to it. On the surface, it managed to showcase how annoying is to constantly press allow for menial tasks performed by the user in a Vista fueled PC. If you peel the top layer there was a political undertone to it. Apple blatantly suggested that if you use a PC with Vista, it is easier for the government to watch over you.
Across the campaign, Apple managed to Neurolinguistically program its viewers via the 'Teaching Tale Approach' (https://www.nlp-techniques.org/nlp-techniques-neuro-linguistic-programming-techniques/key-nlp-techniques/storytelling/). They overtly suggested that PCs cause trouble and grief. They’re hard to use, they’re unstable, and they’re vulnerable to malware. In comparison, Macs are easy, stable, safe, and competent. In short, they quipped that one's computer problems will go away if one switched to Mac.” (adapted from here).
In summary, a good spot will ensure that you drive awareness and demand for your product. Once your product consumption reaches a critical mass of users who have experienced the product and found it wanting. You will only drive them to the competition.
Red Bull knew this was going to happen to them soon. They were garnering a huge market share with their aggressive marketing. They knew if the product is found wanting, they will fall like a pack of cards. But before they went aggressively with their marketing, they commissioned multiple independent studies. All of them proved that drinking Red Bull provides the desirable effects of increased alertness, improved memory, and enhanced mood. They had their fundamental right.
Now with a great product, a genius advertising campaign and with the tireless promotion, they achieved advertising immortality. Red Bull soon joined superior brands like Coke, Nike, and Apple by forging an emotional bond with its customers. All this started with a humble cartoon of Sisyphus trying to move a boulder atop a hill.
It is true that just a few years ago, the B2B industry despaired at never getting to have any fun like B2C marketers.
The B2B companies had to be ‘professional’, which they generally interpreted as ‘safe’ or ‘staid’ or just boring.
Fortunately, a few brave early adopters have started making visual content that is actually exciting, entertaining, emotionally moving, even—gasp—fun to watch. And it turns out that B2B buyers are people who enjoy being entertained just like their B2C counterparts.
Let’s see how some gamechanger B2B companies decided to break the status quo by venturing into cartoon marketing videos:
Humor is an essential element to breaking down barriers. MailChimp practiced some self-deprecating humor by giving business email users permission to mess up the company name. It can be a bit daunting to set up a new account with an ESP, but this fun campaign helped establish MailChimp as the approachable, not stuffy, option. Here's Did You Mean MailChimp from Caramel on Vimeo.
Cartoon marketing videos do not imply that your business needs to go overboard with the usage of flashy characters to lure them into buying a product or a service. Your animation commercial can very well be aimed at spreading more awareness by persuading the viewers to download an e-book or a whitepaper. In our collaboration with Kerry Group’s Ganeden Nutrition, the messaging of our commercial was aimed at educating food manufacturers about personalizing food products to support consumers’ digestive health:
If yours is a company of industrial and residential supplies, you might be thinking that probably animation commercials are not meant for you. But, here’s our collaboration with Winsupply, which will reiterate the fact that cartoon advertisement videos are as much for marketing faucets and fixtures as much as they are for selling cereals!
I believe we’re in a golden age of B2B video marketing. B2B businesses should feel free to take their plunge and explore creative ideas and create incredible experiences. At the end of the day, even their customers are ultimately human beings, not corporations.
In conclusion, even though animation is still cheaper than live‐action techniques, it is no longer the “retarded brother of advertising” as it was previously considered. What used to be primarily useful for animating anthropomorphic cereal mascots has become an extremely broad and versatile medium. Today barely a single commercial is without any form of animation whatsoever. It is generously used to place new logos over old ones, slide shampoo bottles gracefully into view, animated logos and slogans, and show off every angle of a smoothly cruising car. Although those are probably the most common use for animation in commercials, it is not only employed for the purpose of creating the illusion of live‐action and tweaking images to perfection. But, Animation is exclusively used as a medium by brands to create a platform-agnostic campaign. In short, animation can be used to create anything. As a medium, it can co-exist with live-action and on its own.