More than an Explainer video, how to use animation in your marketing.
If you search for “Animation in Marketing”, you’ll find countless articles stating why you should utilize animation. It’ll count down the all benefits, from being able to explain difficult topics succinctly to eye-catching visuals, however, I wanted to dig a little deeper and not just say why you should use animation but also how you might use it.
Specifically how to use animation, visual storytelling and world-building more effectively in your marketing and, possibly even increase or generate new revenue streams.
Animation is a powerful tool for telling your company’s story, whether it’s using a brand video, explaining a new product, or creating a better user interface on your website. The goal is to grab their attention and keep them watching
Animation has been used in marketing for decades. One of the first animated advertisements I remember was the Lucozade man. This animation struck a chord, particularly in the local context ( I’m from Trinidad and Tobago). For several years after that, Lucozade (in the local context) continued to use this character in its ads. With just a single stickman, it cut through the clutter and became so embedded in people’s minds that it became associated with Lucozade, cementing the local identity of the beverage.
Similarly, for an entire generation, Trinidad and Tobago’s Queen of Bacchanal, Destra, will forever be associated with her animated persona Lucy. Not just for her amazing 2015 song, but also for the accompanying music video, which up to this day has gathered up to 9.4 million views.
What a lot of people don’t know is that Lucy also had her own Instagram account that same year, which Destra’s fans loved as the soca star and her persona had a cantankerous relationship.
Considering all the time, money, and effort that goes into making any kind of advertisement, whether live-action or animation, it’s disappointing to see, that not much thought is given to the overall campaign itself. Regardless of how impressive they seem at first, most of the ads fade away after one week.
That’s not to say that the ads were bad, but there’s just so much media consumption nowadays that for any ad to succeed, it either has to have an outstanding media buy that allows the ad to be shown constantly in people’s faces or be unique enough to stand out.
We are still very much amidst a global pandemic and with that, live-action productions weren’t able to be filmed. Animation became the global superstar for the season, animation productions for streaming as well as commercials have surged.
“People are looking for any cost-effective solution that gets them high-quality ads,” said Alex Collmer, CEO of creative automation platform VidMob
With Instagram’s latest announcement, Instagram is no longer a photo-sharing app, according to Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram. Mosseri said the company is looking to lean into entertainment and video after seeing the success of competitors like TikTok and YouTube.
After all, that being said, Video is undeniably the future. The more important question is…
Is Animation right for your brand?
To make it clear, I’m not referring to (explainer videos), but animation as a means of storytelling, world-building, and brand extension. So let’s get into it, How can animation help my brand?
1. A well-designed animated campaign can give your brand a personality
One recent example of this done well would be the amazing video produced by THE LINE for YT Industries Introducing the new IZZO bike. In an interview with Andreas John, Creative Director of YT Industries. We decided to create this because our product developers initially worked with mood boards.
Very early on, it became apparent that the Katana sword would be a key element in inspiring the frame design. After looking at the product features that a bike in this category should have, we found that the fit was perfect. There were different considerations, but then we stuck with the anime. We designed the basic characters and then we went to our agency Shift Active Media with the concept briefing.
The story was already there: one hero, three demons that had to be defeated and showcase the attributes ‘Fast. Agile. Sharp. A highly-targeted campaign to launch and promote the film was devised, planned and bought by SHIFT’s in-house media team which saw the video delivered across the cycling industries leading consumer websites, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and even Reddit and 9gag. In just four days, it served nearly seven million impressions globally and to date, it has been watched over half a million times on YouTube alone.
2. A mascot or animation can outlive your existing influencers, campaigns and remain relevant for many years.
Brands are known for using mascots to make their products appealing to consumers, from Mr Peanut to Tony the Tiger, but we live in a digital world where Multiplatform and Transmedia are not just buzzwords for brands, but the fabric of their existence. You can no longer approach your marketing without considering multiple approaches. This not only applies to animation but marketing in general.
Character creation for animation is one thing, however, their ability to live outside of a brand and tell their own stories is even more valuable. Animation allows businesses to cut through the noise, to create a world they can occupy and communicate stories effectively with only their imaginations holding them back.
In 2020, Planters killed off their mascot Mr Peanut for a Superbowl stunt, only to bring him back weeks later as a baby. Gathering a lot of controversies but organic media as well. Speaking to CNBC, Mike Pierantozzi from VaynerMedia, the agency behind the campaign, said it was inspired by the internet’s response to the death of Iron Man. “When Iron Man died, we saw an incredible reaction on Twitter and social media. It’s such a strange phenomenon,” he said. “We did the unthinkable: we created a program and an idea where Mr Peanut dies and dies specifically sacrificing himself for his friends, which has always been a tenet of who he is and what he does — he always puts others first.”
Though the campaign was met with mixed emotions, the death and resurrection of Mr Peanut was a smart move by Planters — the interest in the topic skyrocketed from 0 to 100 on Google Trends when the initial ad was released, giving it the mascot more buzz than any other time in the last 12 months. As we talked about earlier, there is no such thing as bad publicity; the purpose of the commercial was to get people talking about Planters, and it worked.
Taco Bell was also in the news recently when they launched an animated ad for movies that don’t exist — but that we’d watch — to hype the return of their menu item Nacho Fries.
“Fry Force” aims to cut through the clutter of a busy marketing season and serve as counter-programming during an Olympics-heavy period, according to the partners. The eye-catching animated spot intends to steer clear of “stereotypical sports marketing likely to run this summer and instead venture into a new space,” the brand said in a statement.
3. You can increase your brand’s licensing opportunities with the use of animation.
Sure, you can put your logo on your products and call that branding, but depending on what segment of business you operate in, you can create an entire property that is both centred around your brand but also could exist entirely outside of your core product and earn you revenue at the same time.
The best example of this is Line messaging app. Line hasn’t just recycled the standard yellow-faced emoji/emoticons that are the very definition of a digital cliché. Rather it has created its own set of cutesy cartoon characters to star on stickers and also in the games and apps that live on the Line platform.
These characters effectively act as recognisably brand mascots for LINE — to the point where it has been able to create spin-off merchandise, such as plush toys, physical stickers recently launching a physical store in NY and its own Animated Netflix Series. Chat app Line makes over $270 million a year from selling stickers alone. The characters themselves taking a life of their own and generating additional revenue for LINE outside of their messaging platform.
This all goes without saying that if you are still considering using animation for your marketing campaigns, keep these things in mind. There are so many possibilities when it comes to animation that it doesn’t have to just be a line item in your marketing budget. It can encompass your entire marketing campaign and give you the additional opportunity to reach new audiences or even new product segments, securing greater brand visibility than you initially anticipated.