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Television Commercials Turn Viral Video

A continuation of Zemoga’s week-long guide to helping industry giants go digital.

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A continuation of Zemoga’s week-long guide to helping industry giants go digital.

By Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl)

OK. Admit it. If you’re not streaming all your television shows online, you’re DVRing them so that you can fast forward through the commercials.

But there was a time that television commercials were what drove the conversation, branding and, ultimately, sales. They had their big debut during the Superbowl and were aired ad infinitum until something new and better came along.  And, while people still put a lot of time and money into coming up with a good television commercial, can any of them really compare to Apple’s amazing 1984 Macintosh commercial?

The answer?  The answer is maybe.

Between 2001 and 2002, BMW worked with actor Clive Owen and several respected directors (John Woo, Ang Lee and Tony Scott, amongst others) to produce “The Hire”, which might have been the first commercial that could be considered “advertainment.”  It featured a sexy story, sexy actors and, of course, super sexy BMW cars.

With more and more people spending more and more time sourcing their entertainment online, advertising companies need to look to the internet as a way to spread their message. When done well, it will go viral – not only will the marketer gain notoriety for that kick-a$$ campaign, but the product will stay with people, long after the commercial is over.

Recently, in preparation for the third installment in the Toy Story movie series, Pixar created a YouTube station filled with 1980s television commercials.  The kind that aired during Saturday morning cartoons and shows like Kids Incorporated and You Can’t Do That On Television.   It was filled with ads for Mattel and Hasbro products, toys I remember owning and toys I remember lusting for: Strawberry Shortcake and Inchworm and Speak’n’Spell and Lots-o’-Huggin’-Bear.  Here’s the thing – there is no such bear as Lots-o’-Huggin’-Bear.  He’s a  new character in the Toy Story saga.  But the commercial is grainy, looking like it was taped on a VCR, from a TV with rabbit ears.  It fits perfectly with all the rest, seeming so real that you almost remember having or, at the very least, wanting one of these very special bears.

This was a smart move on Pixar’s part.  A very smart move.  They get how ads are working right now.  They get that if they made a commercial that was not only retro, but tugged at the 80s nostalgia that everyone seems to be feeling right now, and linked it together with familiar tag lines like “Mikey likes it” and “Move over bacon, make room for Sizzlean” that they would have to do little more than that.  Social networking sites would do the rest.  One share on Facebook or a link e-mailed to a handful of friends will quickly (and easily) lead to hundreds of thousands of views.  And when it was finally revealed that the ad was a phony and it was a lead-in to a new Toy Story movie, there would be a lot of buzz.  And there was.

There is a lot of talk right now about how the future of television is happening online.  The future of advertisements won’t follow.  It’s already leading the way.

What do you think? Share your favorite viral ad campaigns in the comments section below.

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