Television and web commercials are evolving at a faster rate than ever, largely thanks to the introduction of branded content. While in years past a "Hard Sell" approach was taken almost 100% of the time, brands and agencies are now coming around to much more tasteful and impactful methods of advertising.
Advertising on any medium (television, print, etc.) used to be extremely heavy handed. Watch just about any commercial made in 1990's or earlier and you'll probably feel like you're being sold a used car. For decades upon decades, advertisers have pushed products on their target audiences in a way that has felt forceful and at times almost laughable.
That's not to say there aren't exceptions to every rule. Pick just about any decade over the last half century and you're bound to find at least a few examples of brilliant ad campaigns... But they were the exception, not the rule.
Since video based advertising hit the internet in spades over the last decade, the average consumer has unconsciously developed a far more critical eye for commercials of all types. Branded content in particular is something that has really resonated with viewers across the board, as they are legitimately entertained, informed, and engaged by the ads that they're watching. In fact, often viewers will completely forget they are watching an ad, which is kind of the point.
Even when consumers are acutely aware of the fact they are watching a branded piece (such as Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee), they will typically see the brand behind it in a much more favorable light. It's an even trade - the advertiser has an opportunity to showcase their brand or product for a potential customer, and the customer gets to enjoy an entertaining piece in exchange.
What's just as interesting however, is how the effects of branded content have trickled back up to television. In the early days most branded content pieces were strictly intended for web, but as agencies and advertisers began realizing they were getting a far better response to their online content than their television spots, things started to change very quickly.
While television isn't the right medium for most branded content, there is now a subset of the television commercial that falls somewhere in between a traditional TV ad and a web based branded content piece. These spots are what I call "Textural Commercials".
Textural commercials are simply designed to evoke an emotion or feeling within the viewer that perfectly represents the brand. Rather than beating the viewer over the head with information about a product, these spots connect with the viewer on a much more visceral and emotional level. They let the viewer know how their product will make them feel, not by telling them but by gently guiding them.
To give an example, here's a recent commercial I came across for Air BnB which is very much in line with this method:
This is a far stronger approach to television advertising than what we've seen in years past. Many viewers genuinely want to watch these types of spots, and feel as if they are getting something from them on an emotional level. They learn about the brand without realizing that they are learning, and the identity of the advertiser is subconsciously ingrained in the viewer.
We would argue that nearly every one of the best commercials in existence today falls into this category. These are commercials that can transcend mediums. They play equally as well on a computer as they do on a television or a theatrical screen. They are engaging, memorable, shareable, and most of all impactful.
When we meet with a client to assess their advertising needs we nearly always push for this type of content, regardless of the medium. We have created national television spots that fall under this umbrella, but have also done some very low budget web content that was approached much in the same way. At the end of the day, it's all content - whether it's consumed on your computer or your television. There is still a time and place for more traditional commercial projects, and we certainly take on our fair share of 30 second spots... But more often than not, this new approach to creative advertising is leading us and our collaborators in the perfect direction.
If you or your company is looking for a branded content piece, commercial, or any other video content - we would love to speak with you about your needs. Feel free to contact us any time at firstname.lastname@example.org