Honest Advertising

Honesty Is the Future of Advertising

Advertisers have reached a tipping point with the sheer amount of products they shove into the faces of consumers on a daily basis. The advertising landscape is more like a landfill, each new offering toppling over the last on a heap of noise engineered to sell stuff.

Indeed, advertisers around the globe are expected to spend $606.90 billion in 2016, a 6.5 percent increase over last year. The average consumer is estimated to have been exposed to as many as 5,000 ads a day in 2015 alone. Imagine what these numbers will look like by 2020. This presents a major challenge for brands, especially as they seek to become less branded and more human. Brands must decide whether they want to — or if they even can — create content that doesn’t need to be measured by its affect on a company’s revenue stream. And lastly, if they’re not selling a product, then they need to communicate the idea or feeling they’re selling.

The common denominator: What matters is people.

In order to build trust, brands need to stop pushing products on people and start caring about, well, people. Human beings want a brand that thinks they matter and will vow to make a difference in their lives and others.

Here’s what they should consider for their advertising:

Stop selling

What a brand stands behind is more important than what they sell, that’s why most brands are veering away from pushing their product and instead pulling you into what they believe. For example, Always’ “Like a Girl” (see video below) campaign builds on the brand’s core principles of empowering women. The ad resonated with consumers because it repositioned the brand’s moral choices by telling us something that mattered. It represented femininity on screen — and it shifted our perception of Always. It’s more about what the brand stands for than the products they represent. The ad has nearly 60 million views on YouTube and dozens of accolades from ad industry experts.

 

First, listen and then empathize

Naturally, when telling a story, you must understand your audience and then share their feelings back to them. Your tone, language and even the content must mirror the way your audience feels. One campaign that really excelled at targeting their audience was Save the Children’s “Most Shocking Second Day Video.” They highlighted a little girl’s life in the U.K. slowly devolving through a montage that eventually imagines how her life would look if she were a typical little girl in Syria.

It is essential to listen to your audience and then empathize with them. Whether it’s through anecdotal conversations on social, word of mouth, or focus groups, the efforts have to be genuine. Understanding what audiences need, like, dislike, and value are the seeds towards listening and empathy.

Then, respond with authenticity

No matter the message, positive or negative, brands must trust that their audiences are as smart as they are. No longer can you distract your audience by treating them like a 1-year-old; you have to face them head on, and respond using thoughtful, honest messages. Earning an audience is no longer instantaneous; it requires delayed gratification and integrity. Consumers want to get behind brands that put them before their profit margins.

In an ideal world we would be surrounded with great advertising with an honest philosophy like Coca Cola’s It’s Beautiful (above) and Chipotle’s Back to the Start. More than ever, we see small storytelling opportunities turn into big conversation starters that allow brands to create more meaningful content, reveal their true voice, convey their principles, and even apologize or start anew.

So brands, say something that’s true to your audience — and say it boldly, and be honest. You’ll stand out from the crowd and you’ll share something unique and important with the world. That should be the future of advertising.

Film Production Set

Production Houses As a One-Stop Shop

More and more brands are going straight to production houses for the creation of their online video content. Many brands know the power and influence behind well-executed web video advertising. However, more and more of them are going around their agency for their online video needs.

When all a brand needs is a short, one-off piece unrelated to a larger, strategic marketing campaign, it now tends to tap digital studios, therefore cutting out the middle-man ad agency that would, on the whole, cost more. This tactic leads to a faster production schedule and better guarantee that the video will be a success among digital audiences.

“It’s about hiring execution,” said Altimeter analyst Rebecca Lieb to AdWeek. “Agencies do a lot of strategy and ideation, which is sometimes not what you need. Sometimes, you just need to get stuff done.”

Online Production

Freshpet’s recent video ad with the Apparently Kid is a perfect example of a large brand hitting up an online video-focused production studio. To create the video ad, the pet food company partnered with ShareAbility, whose tagline reads “We Create Content for the YouTube Generation.” And YouTube audiences definitely loved Freshpet and ShareAbility’s work; the Apparently Kid video now boasts over 3.5 million views and was shared more than 35,000 times, which caused a 416% spike in daily traffic to Freshpet’s site.

“The Internet has changed everything in terms of how consumers find, curate and watch branded content, and this is putting tremendous pressure on traditional ad agencies,” said ShareAbility’s CEO Tim Staples. “Succeeding at YouTube requires an expertise that most general ad agencies don’t have, and the smart ones are not willing to risk a $50 million account for a $500,000 piece of content.”

But ad agencies do have their place, and a very important one at that. “Where the production companies can fall short is if the brand is in need of a greater strategic vision, including distribution and how you’re going to get in front of your target audience,” said Rapt Media’sErika Trautman. “I have seen production companies lose business because they can’t compete at that level.”

Web Series

A good example of a brand that worked with both an ad agency and a digital studio comes from Subway. The restaurant chain used production house Content and Co. to create its five-episode comedy web series called Summer With Cimorelli (starring YouTube a cappella group Cimorelli). However, both Content and Co. and Subway left the in-store and larger broadcast promotions to ad agencies.

While some campaigns will require the assistance of creative agencies, it’s highly likely we’ll see more brands going straight to digital production studios in the future. It looks like this is becoming a trend, as more and more production houses are taking on more tasks and get close to being ad agencies.

The Periodic Table of Storytelling Will Help You

Attention everyone: We have found it. We have found the Holy Grail of online screenwriting/storytelling resources. If you’re a screenwriter and/or a complete glutton for geeking out, like we are, you need to stop what you’re doing immediately and check out Design Through Storytelling’s Periodic Table of Storytelling. Which — is exactly what it sounds like — a collection of story tropes organized by purpose and name. Just like the original periodic table designed by Dmitri Mendeleev.

Sometimes you find things during your internet adventures that make your heart swell with appreciation and nerdy delight for the glory of cyberspace. This is by far one of the coolest things we’ve ever found. Also it doesn’t hurt that its an incredibly helpful compendium of storytelling knowledge that is easier (and more fun) to navigate that flipping back to the table of contents in a screenwriting book.

Created by artist James Harris, The Periodic Table of Storytelling is designed just like the tabular arrangement of the chemical elements, except instead of being organized in groups of alkali metals and noble gases, you’ve got plot devices and archetypes. Harris included everything, like the different villain and hero archetypes, character modifiers, story structure, and setting/laws/plots.

And if that’s not enough, Harris includes 10 “simple story molecules” that can be formed when you combine certain story elements. So, if you’re a science nerd (redundant) and a screenwriter, you’ll just be in absolute heaven when you start playing around with this. Let us know what you come up with and how the periodic table of storytelling is helping you tell better stories!

 

Periodic Table of Storytelling

Periodic Table of Storytelling

Super Bowl 50 Commercial Break

Super Bowl 2016: It’s Not About The Game

Every year on the first Sunday of February America stays home for the biggest event in sports: the Super Bowl. It’s almost like a National Holiday. This year was no difference. And whether you were rooting for the Denver Broncos or the Carolina Panthers, most people watch the Super Bowl for on thing only: the commercials. Most people expect them to be funny and this year we’ve seen some pretty funny ones. But there is one other thing that we at Southern Wild noticed about the ads. A lot of them are focussed on celebrities. Here are a few good examples:

 

 

 

 

What do you think? Could they go without the celebrities in them?  We are not blown away by the stories most of the ads tell or the concepts the are driven by. They’re simply too focused on the power of celebrity endorsement.

But there is one ad that comes close to what we at Southern Wild believe to be great and honest storytelling. Jeep does a pretty good job at touching your heart with their story of the one thing that truly makes America great: YOU. Yes, it does have a few celebrities, but used in a subtle way and they at least shared a real moment with Jeep. Watch the ad below and see for yourself:

 

 

So what do you think? Are you okay with celebrities driving a commercial, or do you care more about a great story and concept? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

P.S.- Watch them all here. Or just the best ones that made it to Ad Meter’s Top 5.

 

Canada Goose Keeps You Warm

Christmas is over and winter is slowly arriving in Europe, so it seems. Time to get cozy around the fireplace and keep the cold outside. But if you do have to go out, Canada Goos is there to keep you warm. Watch their chilling new short film, while sipping a hot cocoa. And if you happen to be looking for some new year’s resolutions, read the inspiring true stories the film is based on.

This is real honesty

 

This is real honesty. What if we all act and think this way? If this doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go at Burning Man!

Simply a brilliant way of using Dr. Seuss’s final book to tell the story of Burning Man.

The clues to a great story

The clues to a great story

Filmmaker Andrew Stanton (“Toy Story,” “WALL-E”) shares what he knows about storytelling — starting at the end and working back to the beginning. (Contains graphic language)