Animation Advertising: Why you should use it and its benefits

Written by Jack Last

Standing out from the crowd: the value of animation advertising

Remember the days when there were only four channels on the TV? No social media, no streaming services, and just a handful of channels out there for audiences to choose from. In those days, brands that were brave enough to step into digital advertising had a pretty easy job (that is, once they got past the initial hurdles of going from print to screen!).

This is because the competition was just a fraction of what it is now. Viewers couldn’t flick between endless channels, scroll on their phones or switch to another device. In essence, once they’d made it onto their screen, retaining engagement was infinitely simpler. Nowadays, it’s a completely different story. It’s not just a case of creating an advert and getting it out on the best channels, but the next challenge is to create content that will actually keep your audience’s focus. This is precisely why animation advertising is such a solid investment - it is creative, fun, engaging and dynamic, and successfully delivers something a little out of the ordinary, to give your target market a reason to keep watching.

What is animation advertising?

As its name suggests, animation advertising is essentially the process of creating branded adverts, through the medium of animation. These adverts could be anything from conventional TV adverts to social media campaigns. Or, marketers could use animation to take advantage of new next-gen marketing opportunities, such as virtual reality, augmented reality channels, and multimedia billboard campaigns. Although it is only relatively recently that we successfully achieved movement on screen, early forms of animation date back centuries.

Examples of our early animation tools include devices like the magic lantern of the 1600s (an image projector which featured pictures set on glass sheets of glass, which is widely considered to be the first case of projected animation) and the early 1800s’ iconic Zoetrope (in fact, Zoetrope animation styles still remain popular to this day, although the technology has advanced somewhat!). These early developments led to the silent films that marked the early 20th century, with animators from America and France paving the way for the industry. In 1919, we saw the launch of the first animated movie star, the beloved Felix the Cat. And then, animation made its debut on the big screen, with the game-changing release of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was the world’s first hand-drawn animated feature film.

And, as animation in entertainment grew in popularity and sophistication, it's only natural that animation in advertising grew alongside it. Matches an Appeal (1899) is widely considered to be the first animated advert. It’s a stop motion short of a matchstick man, encouraging viewers to donate matches for troops. Obviously it’s only a simple advert, but this technique represents a landmark moment for advertising. Since then, the field has grown extensively. It’s gone from the famous examples of The Flintstones smoking in 1950s ads, to Nyquil’s pioneering use of stop motion in the 60s, and has continued to develop with new trends and the improvement of animation technologies. In the late 1900s, animation was finally making it big, and being deployed by major brands across the world, with some of the most famous examples coming from Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola and Cadbury’s.

The key benefits of animation advertising

Animation is a beloved style in film and TV, and illustration is an art form that’s as old as time. But despite this, animation advertising is still a developing technique. Plus, because of the ever-evolving technologies and infinite design styles, it’s an advertising medium that’s very tricky to pin down - there’s always something new going on, and that’s the beauty of it. So, why exactly should a marketer choose animation over another advertising method?

● Creativity can deliver a brand edge - the artistry and creativity of animation makes it clear that your brand is bold, forward-thinking and doing something different from its competitors. It demonstrates to your audience that you are youthful and dynamic, and so is a great way to give you an edge in a crowded marketplace.

● Cost-effective - compared to a live-action advert, the overhead costs of an animation advert are far lower. Take our Grow with Focus advert for example. If we were to create this using live-action filming, there’d be the cost of multiple actors, a number of different settings, vehicle rental, editing footage and different takes, then multiply all these by the number of retakes required. But, by using 2D animation, Ford was able to achieve the content it envisioned at a significantly lower cost.

● Wider creative flexibility - unlike live-action adverts, animation will put almost no constraints on your creative vision. Whilst live-action practicalities hold you back across the board, animation allows you to choose whatever scenes, objects, locations and characters you can imagine.

● Reach a large audience - did you know that 27% of global internet users watch over 10 hours of online videos daily? There’s a huge market for video-based content, and audiences across the world are excited to see what your brand has to bring to the table. So, if you get it right, the pay offs are huge.

● Increase engagement - social media videos are more popular than text and image- based content combined. When you think about it, it’s hardly surprising. This moving, creative, multimedia content is infinitely more captivating. And the engagement stats clearly reflect this.

● Quick to create - live-action adverts require huge teams with extensive specialisms, and a long list of editing and production processes. In comparison, animation can be done by a single in-house team, who can work with a brand to create all of the individual elements that are required. As a result, animated adverts can be completed to a very tight timescale.

● Boosts brand recognition - with animation, you get the two-fold benefits of a highly engaging piece of content, which is firmly on brand. So, this makes it a fantastic tool for boosting brand recognition amongst an expanded pool of your target market.

Best examples of animated advertising

Now, all that’s left to do is inspire your new animated advert. And, what better place to start, than our pick of three of the most successful examples of animated advertising.

Oreo’s Wonderfilled campaign

The Wonderfilled campaign has been a smash hit for Oreo. Using a charming, classic animation style, and the brand’s trademark bright blue colour, these adverts speak to the playfulness of the treat. The concept is ‘wonder if’ a series of different groups of people enjoyed an Oreo. What we think this animation advert does best is create a light-hearted message and a friendly, personable brand image.

Indie Bay Snacks

Through this animation advert, Indie Bay Snacks sought to communicate the qualities that make their product unique. In this product launch, they wanted to share more information about their use of healthy ingredients, whilst also illustrating their trendy branding. So, we used a modern take on a stop motion animation style, to create a stylish animation with a whimsical feel. The use of isolated elements - being moved through stop motion - also made their product information clear and easy to digest, without either the branding or the product USPs outshining the other.

John Lewis - The Bear and the Hare

Without a doubt, one of the most successful fields in 21st century animated adverts are Christmas adverts. And it was this iconic Bear and the Hare advert that kicked off the booming trend. We adore the way that John Lewis chose a classic, timeless animation style, which is reminiscent of the story books that we loved as children. Through the animation genre, the advert is subtle and sincerely heart warming, offering a brilliant contrast to the usual materialistic Christmas adverts.

Why work with an animation agency like OK Social?

Whatever design medium you go for, adverts are always a big deal. Your brand will have sunk no small amount of time, funding and effort into this new campaign. And, there’s a lot on the line. Not only will your advert be responsible for (hopefully) bringing in a wider audience and boosting your sales, but each advert contributes significantly to your brand image. If an advert is a flop, then you risk weakening your brand recognition, or even hindering your brand reputation. So, with such critical factors at play - and a notoriously small make-or-break margin - the talents of a professional are invaluable.

At OK Social, we have created animation adverts for some of the UK’s most well-known household names. Our animators have designed bespoke branded adverts for Ford, Deliveroo and Taco Bell. And the best thing about working with an agency is that you get access to the extensive skills of specialists, but you still get complete creative control. We work on a close one-to-one basis with all of our clients, to ensure that the advert completely meets their brief, and is firmly on-brand. So, if you’d like to find out more about what animation advertising entails, or to enlist the services of team OK Social for your upcoming campaign, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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I’m Jack, the Motion Director here at OK Social. I’ve been working in the world of motion design and animation for nearly 10 years. I had the pleasure of working with leading agencies and brands around the world, such as Samsung, Ford, Shell, Deliveroo, and Starbucks, to name a few.

From a young age, I’ve always been interested in animation, from making stop-motion films in my room as a kid to learning animation on my first computer. It started as a passion and still is to this day. Part of what I do now is more than just animation. I help craft the narratives of the stories we tell to ensure they make an impact to the audience and remain worthy of their attention.

So how do I do that? It starts with asking the right questions, leading to solving the right problems. First, diagnose what the problem is. Then, we can start to see if we can help. I believe that communication plays a key role in delivering a smooth and successful project. Looking into the future, I’m excited to expand my knowledge into creating more engaging stories that make a difference.