While many advertisers try to break through the noise and catch the attention of consumers, few do it well. But in 2017, a few key advertisers told compelling stories with video marketing that captivated viewers, told their brand stories and earned them national attention. Here are the top six advertisers who rose to the challenge in 2017, and the video ads that helped them do it.
1. Burger King's "#ScaryClownNight" viral video
The infamous burger joint is known for playing on its rivalry with McDonald's, but they outdid themselves in 2017 with the release of #ScaryClownNight. The promotional video poked fun at Ronald McDonald himself and played off the release of the highly anticipated recreation of It while driving traffic into Burger King restaurants on the most clownish day of the year: Halloween.
The video was tied to a special promotion – the first 500 guests dressed as clowns who visited stores in select cities got a free Whopper sandwich. Users also used the video hashtag to share costume photos to social media. Not only did Burger King drive customers into its stores, but it successfully executed a highly targeted and timely marketing campaign that crossed video, social and in-store.
2. Ancestry's "Declaration Descendants" commercial
Ancestry's 2017 video ad celebrates the shared values between the American people and the brand itself – freedom, the pursuit of happiness and the celebration of a diverse history. The video was released on July 4th as both a celebration of the holiday and a promotional advertisement.
The spot features a re-creation of the famous John Trumbull painting, "Declaration of Independence," but adds a surprise twist – each member of the incredibly diverse recreation is an ancestral descendant of a declaration signer. Ancestry also launched a landing page to support the ad, which added another layer to the thought-provoking campaign and promoted purchasing their DNA tests so consumers could celebrate their own ancestral backgrounds.
3. Haribo's "Boardroom" commercial
Haribo Gold-Bears are a nostalgic treat that brings out the inner child in consumers – and their 2017 video ad "Boardroom" showed that exact concept in action. The video features adults sitting around a boardroom table, eating the brand's signature product, while the voices of children are dubbed over their own.
The playful ad campaign had been a success in the U.K. for several years, and in 2017 Haribo decided to bring the idea to the U.S. The entire collection of videos shows the candies bringing levity to even the most serious situations, and inspires viewers to bring out their old inner child – and enjoy a gummy bear from time to time.
4. Progressive's "Parentamorphosis" campaign
Progressive took a leap of faith in 2017, deviating from its traditional Flo-centered video ads to launch "Parentamorphosis," a family-centered ad campaign that the insurance provider launched just before Thanksgiving. The series of videos pokes fun at the phenomenon children hope to never experience: turning into their parents.
The ads performed so well that the company extended the campaign, investing in 90-second spots that continued the story and aired exclusively during Thursday Night Football. Progressive layered on a social element, asking viewers to share their own "parentamorphosis" moments throughout the holiday season with the hashtag #ParentMorphChallenge. The company may have taken a risk in trying something new, but they've been rewarded with a healthy return on ad spend (ROAS); a rep said "Parentamorphosis" is the "most successful campaign to date not featuring Flo."
5. Audi's "Daughter" commercial
In 2017, Audi joined the gender equality conversation with the release of "Daughter," a video ad that offers a feminist perspective as told by the father of the story's young female lead. The point of view was a smart move for the automaker, which allowed them to gracefully enter cultural conversation in the traditionally masculine auto industry.
The brand used the release of the video at the 2017 Super Bowl to promote their own message about pay equality, creating a national stage for the brand to talk about gender bias, share its values and promote itself as a prime employer.
6. Instagram's "Stories Are Everywhere" campaign
In 2017, one of the most fun and loved brands in the world executed an advertising campaign that supported its brand values across video, billboards, guerrilla techniques and more. Instagram launched its first-ever global ad campaign to promote its new Stories feature in the second quarter of the year.
The "Stories Are Everywhere" video series featured a collection of refined snippets that captured major cultural moments, and juxtaposed them with fun, user-created Instagram Stories. The ads were created almost entirely from the Stories feature itself, supporting the narrative that creativity is in everyone's hands with the Instagram app.
These ads span industries – auto, restaurant, insurance and more – but all show how leveraging timeliness, cultural conversation, humor and cross promotion can multiply the effects of video advertising. They elegantly and simultaneously support their brand values, promote a product or service, and entertain audiences. Before you dive right into video ad production for 2018, consider using some of the tactics these brands did last year to earn attention from your target market and ultimately increase your campaign performance.
Bonus: Learn 3 ways to up your video marketing game with AI