Today, promotional messages try to reach us pretty much 24/7. As we move about our lives, marketers and advertisers are constantly fighting for our attention — and because of that, we’ve become pretty intolerant of interruptive promotional messages.
People don’t want to hear a bunch of buzzwords, see an array of cliché images, or watch another talented celebrity be used as a prop or a mere endorsement. If an ad hopes to keep people’s attention during a commercial break, it needs to make people believe that it will be more engaging than whatever else they could be doing during the intermission. In essence, it has to be more than an ad.
The following “ads” are ones that fit that bill. They use a combination of storytelling, shared personal experiences, and/or some intangible wow-factor to provide viewers with a highly emotional and entertaining experience. They are so engaging that they can actually compel you to pause your regularly scheduled programs to pay more attention to them. In short … they don’t feel like ads at all.
11 Amazing Ads That Don’t Feel Like Ads
1) Pepsi MAX – Uncle Drew
This ad has been one of my favorite advertisements since it debuted. This is the first video in what is now a three-part series. Since this first video, I have actually anxiously awaited the next installment in the series despite the fact that this is, after all, an advertisement for Pepsi MAX. The Uncle Drew ads tell a story and use an athlete for his talents rather than simply as an endorsement. The wow factor here is seeing just how talented an NBA star really is when he is not playing against other superstars.
2) Heineken – The Experiment
Heineken tells us a story in the form of an experiment designed to test whether the DJ impacts how much people drink. Heineken shows us the same club, with the same number of people on two different nights. On the first night, the club has a random DJ and on the second night, the DJ is Armin Van Buuren. The experiment shows that the DJ can make a huge difference and a better DJ makes people dance more and drink less. The wow factor in this advertisement is that Armin Van Buuren plays an exclusive track made just for the commercial … and it’s awesome.
3) Nike – The Last Game
This commercial is more than an ad — it’s a mini-movie. This ad has a full story arc with an opening scene, a crisis, a climax, a villain, and a hero. The intricate storyline is a wow factor in its own right, but the fact that the five-minute commercial is a cartoon makes it even more incredible.
4) Intel – The Chase
This ad was created to showcase the stunning visual performance of Intel’s new core processor. To highlight this idea, the ad tells a story of two men chasing after a woman who has an envelope that they want. The wow factor here is that the chase is shown taking place completely through computer programs and internet sites. The characters move seamlessly from one program/site to another as the chase unfolds.
5) Verizon Droid – 48 Hours
To demonstrate the long battery life and some of the new features of the Droid phone, this commercial takes us back in time with actor Edward Norton to see everything that he did in the past 48 hours. Rather than using Edward Norton as a prop, this advertisement uses him for his acting ability.
6) Duracell – Trust Your Power
In this advertisement, NFL Pro-bowler Patrick Willis tells his own story. He discusses very relatable experiences like facing adversity, never giving up, and trusting in yourself. The ad also shows video clips that illustrate his story and make it feel even more relatable.
7) Dove – Real Dad Moments
This commercial is a compilation of video snapshots of real moments that Dads and children of all ages can relate to. It shows children in a variety of scenarios calling out for their Dads as they age from toddlers to adults. This ad makes a powerful emotional connection and it actually left many us on the HubSpot blogging team close to tears.
8) Luvs – Pacifier
Things are always easier and less stressful the second time around — the idea in this ad is that the second time around, a mom knows exactly what to do, so she chooses Luvs diapers.
9) Chipotle – The Scarecrow
The goal of this advertisement was to draw attention to fast food issues and to highlight Chipotle’s dedication to creating a sustainable future. The ad follows a scarecrow as he uncovers various food issues, which gets Chipotle’s message across in an engaging and shareable way.
10) Nike – Winner Stays
Everyone can remember playing sports as a little kid and pretending to be their sports heroes. This commercial shows a live game of soccer and mixes in a nice blend of action and humor. This ad is both engaging due to the live game action and relatable because at its core, it is really just a pickup game between two teams of friends.
11) Volvo – The Ballerina Test
This advertisement was created to demonstrate the control of the Volvo FH truck series. The ad features a woman attempting to tightrope between two trucks traveling at high speeds and it must be completed before the tucks enter into a tunnel. This ad is obviously relatable because we all remember that time … just kidding. The wow factor in this commercial is pretty clear: there is a woman tightrope walking between two trucks that are traveling on the highway at high speeds. You’ve got to watch to see what happens.
Which of these ads was your favorite?