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The Powerful Allure of Animation

A Storytelling Technique for Reflection

Creative proposals for animated executions of commercials are sometimes met with challenging questions for Art Director and Copywriting teams from clients.

Would it not trivialise a serious brand message? Is it right for an adult target market? Surely animation only appeals to juveniles and a fivolous message will impact negatively on the long established stature of the Brand Image?

These are all legitimate concerns that require reflection and careful thought.

Engaging Storytelling Executions

However, the following commercial examples will show that when animation is appropiately and creatively applied it can executionally be a very engaging and resonant communication approach.

The Pioneer of The Illustrator’s Art

In the 1930’s the most recognisable figures in the world were Mickey Mouse and Charlie Chaplin’s little tramp character. Even Hitler was a Chaplin fan and adopted a ‘Chaplin moustache’ in the belief that it would make him more popular.

Mickey Mouse’s fame however, will more than likely endure much longer than Chaplin’s owing to the timeless appeal of animation.

The pioneer of the illustrator’s art that became known as ‘animation’ was Walt Disney, who became the record holder of 22 Oscars. The most awards in the history of the motion picture ever to be won by one man. His first Mickey Mouse ‘cartoons’ consisted of simple black and white line-art.

1. Red Bull Takes Flight

Advertising Agency: Kastner & Partners, Frankfurt

Many years later a simple line-art technique, similar to Disney’s early work, was used to promote an obscure energy drink made in Austria from an adapted Thai recipe, called Red Bull.

Animated Line-art commercials catapulted the brand to international status. The major appeal of the commercials to their target market was the simple, quirky animation that felt like anyone with handy bit of paper and a pen could contribute to. Many students of all ages did exactly that and submitted hundreds of DIY creative expressions and impressions of “Red Bull Gives You Wings”, and the rest, as they say, is history.

2. John Lewis, The Bear and The Hare

Advertising Agency: adam&eve DDB

The animated story of ‘The Bear and The Hare’ for John Lewis, the British store chain, was one of the most popular Christmas commercials of all time with young and old alike and demonstrates how powerful animation can be emotively for engaging all audiences, regardless of age.

The evocative soundtrack of ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ is by Lily Allan and can be downloaded from iTunes.

3. Honda, Hate Something, Change Something.

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy

The launch of Honda’s CTDi Diesel engines in the U.K. saw their overall sales results increase by 35%. For Honda U.K. this was a dream result in a highly completive automotive market. Their selling line “The Power Of Dreams” seems like an appropriate metaphor for their success.

To avoid the likelihood of boring viewers with information about the technological details of the ‘innovative new’, versus the ‘noisy old’, the commercial focuses on the new diesel engine’s beneficial outcomes. Animation and a fun, narrative soundtrack are engagingly used to effectively demonstrate the celebratory environmental advantages of the new product that all can enjoy.

Audi’s ‘Hate Something, Change Something’ was the most-awarded campaign of 2005 and won a Cannes International Festival of Creativity Film Grand Prix. ADWEEK Magazine lauded the commercial as ‘the overall ad of the decade’ in 2009.

4. Dumb Ways To Die

Advertising Agency: McCann, Melbourne

The most awarded campaign ever, in the history of The Cannes International Festival of Creativity, was centered around an animated, public safety commercial for Melbourne’s Metro Rail.

‘Dumb Ways To Die’ won a record breaking 5 Grand Prix awards, 18 Gold Lions, 3 Silvers and 2 Bronzes. When the commercial was released online, It notched up over 50 million views.

The most important aspect of the campaign is the success achieved in dramatically increasing safety awareness around trains in Melbourne and also its impact globally on raising awareness about train commuter safety precautions. In spite of the commercial’s entertaining watchability, or more probably, because of it, the seriousness of the underlying message hit home.

The memorable impact the communication made was much more effective than any national or regional government could ever achieve with mere impassionate instrunctions for public adherence to safety regulations.