What the Zombie Apocalypse can teach us about making killer ads
Yesterday, AdFreak posted the 15 greatest commercials of the last year, as chosen by the Film Lions jury and the Film Craft Lions jury at Cannes. The first video that caught my attention was the “Dead Island” trailer by Axis Animation.
The 3 minutes of video that followed were creepy, provocative, and full of lessons for advertisers targeting blog readers.
SHOW DON’T TELL
It’s a classic rule of good writing and it applies to all forms of story telling, from video to advertising. In this video, no one needs to tell us that a nice family is being attacked by a hoard of zombies in a tropical paradise. It’s all there in front of us.
Same goes for good online ads. Don’t tell with words what you can show with imagery. In the classic Blogad below, NBC could have cluttered the image with logos and slogans, and used the text below to tell us what’s going on. Instead, they went for a simple text and evocative image, and what they produced was an ad that got blog readers to click:
USE PROVOCATIVE CREATIVE
I took a good look at the screenshot AdFreak had grabbed and had no idea what the hell was going on:
OK, there is clearly at least one zombie. Is the little girl a zombie, too? Or the man whose back she’s on? From this shot, we can hardly even tell if the people are CGI or real. I needed to know the answers to these questions, so I clicked.
When choosing an image for an online ad, look for something that provokes questions. If you’re dropping video into your Blogad, make sure you’ve chosen the best thumbnail to get a reaction.
MORE LESSONS FROM THE UNDEAD
If you’re twisted enough to watch it repeatedly, there are many more lessons to glean from this award-winning commercial. For instance, people like to look at other people, alive or undead. Use people in your ad.
Try irony. The soundtrack to the “Dead Island” trailer doesn’t exactly match the imagery you’re seeing. It lulls you into a false sense of peace while scaring the bejeezus out of you. While irony isn’t the best approach for all ads, it can be used to stir the reader’s curiosity, as irony masters PETA show us in this great ad:
Finally, a little ambiguity never hurt anyone. Are we watching a trailer for a short film or movie? We can assume it’s a game, but nowhere in this ad does a narrator blurt out “This is an exciting game!” Great ads don’t blurt.
Need more inspiration? Take a look at these classic Blogads, and breath new life into your ads.