The Covid-19 ad effect: Rise of the shorter ad format
In the late ’20-teens’ – that’s 2015 to 2019 – long before the coronavirus was even a blip on the radar, 2020 was predicted to be a golden year for business, product innovation and advertising alike. Invisible computers and self-driving cars, anyone? While we weren’t quite living out an episode of The Jetsons, we didn’t seem that far off either. Then coronavirus arrived. And everything changed.
We learned to do it all from home, as seen in Jacobs’ ad celebrating the ‘coffee magicians’ who create their own barista-quality cuppas. “Hold my Hunter’s” also hit the mark for showing how real-life can intrude on the VR world as opposed to vice versa.
As lockdown dragged on and the economy suffered, marketing budgets were scrutinised and, in some instances, slashed to within an inch of their former glory. Quick-thinking marketers reacted by creating shorter ads, which were cheaper to produce. The 15-second and 20-second formats still created impact with their audiences, making the case that short ads can work as long as you get the story and branding right. Some of these examples include ads from McDonald’s, Calpol, Gaviscon and Tastic.
Sustaining the sustainability conversation with purpose
In addition, Covid-19 has reinforced and accelerated the sustainability conversation, as we realise the importance of taking care of the world around us. There’s been a concerted effort to reduce, reuse and recycle as well as support the economy and community by buying local. The South African story is therefore a good one to tell, as seen in the Tastic x Laduma Heritage ad that tops the table for Q3 2020. Packed with all the texture, colour, drama, expressions of how we celebrate our traditions, it’s the true essence of South Africa on screen.
H&M’s “Let’s change. For tomorrow” also places the spotlight firmly on sustainability, which was the golden thread running through the fashion story.
Surprisingly, areas of grudge purchasing also shone in Q4, with 1st For Women’s “My body (stand up)” shaking up the undifferentiated finance and insurance categories by putting not just women, but purpose, first. Tapping into GBV, declared as South Africa’s second pandemic of 2020
, it encouraged the nation to stand together against women abuse. The ad was backed by powerful local music talent and marked 2020’s #16DaysofActivism, with all funds going to the 1st for Women Foundation. Chills!
Spice it up with a dash of humour: Distract and entertain us
Just because we’re living through history doesn’t mean we’ve lost our sense of humour: Far from it. In fact, Kantar’s global Creative Effectiveness Awards 2020 found audiences want things to return to normal. They’re not as sensitive as they were a few months ago so there’s no need to cut back on the funnier side of life, provided you don’t make light of the seriousness of the situation.
Savanna and Wimpy shared funny stories about those everyday relatable moments and, similarly, Chicken Licken poked fun at home hairstyling fails. Nando’s “The Half-full News” also excelled once again at that finely chopped balance of adding spice to the situation without crossing the line or crossing the road (the chicken, that is!).
You can be functional without being boring
Ads that deliver an explicit message won’t benefit brands to the same degree as an ad focused on building impressions. So, when there is a need to reinforce functional benefits, deliver the message in a creative way to evoke an emotional response – ‘show’, don’t ‘tell’.
Proving you can be functional without being boring, Standard Bank’s ad breaks the fourth wall in 'pressing pause' on the action to explain new account benefits. In the vignette from OUTsurance, while potential buyers are viewing a showhouse, an OUTsurance call centre agent magically joins the tour, touting the need for life insurance when you’re buying a home to cleverly frame the functional need.
Eating, drinking and being merry still rule the festive season
As the final quarter of the year saw a gradual relaxing of lockdown restrictions, the nation celebrated ads that ran with the #keDezemba boss silly season mindset. Nissan X-Trail's “Get inside. Go out there” resonated with our longing to escape from home office life, and Mr D Food’s ad revealed customers’ take-away and in-home delivery food fantasies on the streets of South Africa, vox pops-style. McDonald’s and Steers also highlighted the enjoyment of taking a step back from all the seriousness and slipping into holiday mode with family, friends and good food.
But it’s the ads from Coca-Cola, with one taking top spot in Q4, that best tapped into the collective mindset of the festive season like no other, summing up the sentiment perfectly with: “When the world changed, it made us go back to the simple joys. We’ll take nothing for granted and always remember to taste the simple joys.”
That’s the power of advertising – amplifying what matters and making it hit home like never before to leave a lasting impression that can seed ideas, associations and feelings that are triggered long after the ad was seen.
Congratulations to the following brands and agencies:
|#1 Ad Q3 2020 <!>||#1 Ad Q4 2020|
|Tastic Rice – Tastic x Laduma Heritage||Coca-Cola – Taste the simple joys|
|DNA Brand Architects||FCB Joburg|
To view the PDF of all the ads for Q3&4 2020, click here.
Kantar's Creative Effectiveness Awards celebrate the best TV and digital ads from around the world – as judged by consumers. Find out what the 20 most creative and effective ads from over 10,000 we tested in 2020. Great advertising needs to drive short-term sales and build brands in the long term, so the awards celebrate winning ads that are both creative and effective.
Download our booklet, “The 5 habits of highly effective advertisers” and discover the winning creative tactics and habits that deliver return on creative investment.
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