What You Can Learn By Not Skipping Commercials

Posted on September 27, 2018 at 2:03 PM

Are you tasked with video marketing?

Watch some commercials. We know what you’re thinking: I hate ads; they’re so annoying. I only watch commercials during the Super Bowl. But wait and give it 30 seconds. If you watch the quick but complete stories being told by major brands, it’ll be worth the the commercial break. Why?

Commercials? No, Micro-Storytelling

In a recent eTrade ad, the story starts with an alarm clock and some senior citizens getting ready for work to the tune of “Day-O.” The lyrics, however, are a bit different:

“Wake up early, slap on some cologne. I’m eighty-five and I wanna go home. Just got a job as a lifeguard in Savannah, I’m eighty-five and I wanna go home. Dropping sick beats, they call me DJ Nana…”

Then eTrade cuts in: “Over ⅓ of Americans have no retirement savings.This is getting old.”

Rather than bore (or scare!) people by saying “You’re going to be working when you’re 85; so start saving and investing!” eTrade opted for a funny approach that vividly paints a picture. You get the point, but not because eTrade hammered you over the head with lectures, warnings, or statistics. They told a story.

You can’t help but pay attention to commercials like this. This type of micro-storytelling changes marketing, and it changes companies.

The Data Behind Stories

Stories create trust: the listener or viewer experiences the same emotions as the storyteller. Research also shows that:

Consumers have to connect with you on an emotional level before they connect with you logically — and financially. Stories empower your brand to reach them.

So What Can You Learn from a Commercial?

What do the best commercials teach us about making great brand videos?

  • Include the human element. This is why people watch. In eTrade’s video, certainly the thought of our grandparents, parents, or ourselves having to work at an advanced age strikes a chord.
  • Be sincere. Authenticity is key. Don’t embellish, falsify, or exaggerate. Humor is fine, if it underscores your main point.
  • Know your target audience. Again, eTrade does this by helping people imagine the future if they don’t have sufficient retirement savings.
  • Have a hero. And no, it’s not you! Consumers respond most favorably to everyday “characters.” You don’t need celebrities to tell your story; you need real people to tell theirs.
  • Describe the problem. Your hero is struggling with a need or unfulfilled desire. This is the “meat” of your story.
  • Pose a solution. How can your brand help the hero solve their problem or fill their need?
  • Keep it simple. The best brand videos focus on one key idea. You don’t need to produce a feature length film that covers everything. In fact, don’t! One story, one hero or set of heroes, one problem, one solution, one video.

This is probably the best “homework” assignment ever: watch some commercials. You’ll sit through some duds, to be sure! But you’ll also be amazed at some of the stories you see. The next step is putting this inspiration, along with sound, proven principles, to work for your brand.


About the Author:
Adam Grubb

Adam Grubb

AGP is a video media company specializing in b2b corporate video production, strategy, and management. Corporate video touches all parts of your business and Adam Grubb Productions is built to drive production, engagement, and video strategy at the highest level.

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