Animation in Advertising: Awkward or Boring Subjects

Animation in Advertising: Awkward or Boring Subjects

You are scrolling over countless videos on your social media feeds. Some you click, some you pass. But there comes a big colourful moving picture with a cute animated character that beckons your curiosity.
You will click on it, you know you will because: 
(a) it’s pretty
(b) you know you are likely to have fun watching it.

Sure, yes, we keep saying; our attention span has decreased. But it turns out, that longer animated videos are quite the hit when used correctly. More and bigger brands are using them successfully to tell a story.

This is possibly because animation is easy-breezy to watch, usually fun and intriguing, even when it has to deal with dull or uncomfortable subjects. Actually, especially then!

A recent survey by analytics firm Ace Metrics has come to confirm this. After looking into 14 different animated ad campaigns that are fully or partially animated, they have found positive results in the relationship between animated commercials and user engagement, despite of their longer lengths.

Using creativity and fun to speak of difficult or boring subjects, can lead to absurd results and often controversial but this gets people talking. In the age of social media, this leads to embedding them in popular culture and therefore garnering a lot of attention and eventually sales.

The most notable example for successfully using animation to promote a product for a rather uncomfortable situation, seems to be SquattyPotty's ‘Unicorn Gold’ advertisment, a surreal, partially CGI animated video selling a deodorant spray for your potty-time, extracted by the rears of unicorns.... Erm, yeah, you've read correctly…


Despite some original controversy, the video, as Ace reports, led to a 600% increase of sales online and a 400% increase in retail sales. A sequel was recently released indicating that people become more accepting of difficult subjects, the more aware they become of them. If it is done with humour, it makes it easier to talk about.

Lactaid is another example, promoting a product for the lactose intolerant. Instead of masking it, it creatively reimagines the awkward problem the product wishes to solve. It’s cute and it’s a hoot!

Ace reports that ‘Top 2 Box purchase intent scores were observed among long-form, educational ads’, indicating that animation works when brands want to inform about their product and its function, making viewers more likely to purchase it.

Such an example on Ace Metric’s list of campaigns, is ‘An Inconvenient Tooth’, where an anthropomorphised tooth educates the buyers of the harmful chemicals that toothpaste can contain and that they should purchase ‘Hello’ toothpaste because it is natural and safe.

Taco Bell used long form animation to tell the story of ‘National Taco Day’ using brand mascots, and KFC created a simple, cute story using a mascot as its protagonist to create an emotional reaction.

Educational animated videos, whether explicitly commercial or informative and educational, are great at attracting viewers and holding their attention because, not only do they give exposure to the brand and create a better understanding of the product, they also form a deeper connection with prospective clients because the viewer is gaining something from it; knowledge and entertainment. These two offerings are also very shareable, exponentially growing your viewership! This forges a connection, making the brand familiar in the mind of the viewer, who will potentially return for immediate or future purchase.

Animated sequences generally impress and simplify information. They have a tendency to remain engrained in our mind, like the image of Mufasa in the sky in ‘The Lion King’ shouting through the stars at Simba to ‘Remember!...Remember!’

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