3 lessons for marketers from the most creative digital ads for 2015

JWT's digital director, Josie Brown, looks at what lessons CMOs can takeaway from the top creative campaigns at Cannes 2015

Pic of the Geico 'unskippable' pre-roll ad
Pic of the Geico 'unskippable' pre-roll ad

There is so much inspiration to be taken from seeing the best creative ideas living in digital channels.

The Cyber Lion award winners were announced recently in Cannes. Here are three simple things that bubbled up from those winning case studies that could help guide CMOs to digital marketing success.

1. Insist on custom video executions for online pre-roll advertising – running your TV ad is not the best investment

It has been common knowledge for several years now that pre-roll ads need to be short and quickly grab attention within seconds, or brands run the risk of consumers simply skipping past them.

The ‘Unskippable’ ad campaign from Geico was funny, attention grabbing and memorable. The ad itself is over in four seconds and appears to freeze frame, but if you keep watching, entertainment ensues almost like a hidden track on a vinyl album. The ad ticks all the boxes of digital advertising and gets people talking about the brand.

While the Geico ads are short and attention grabbing, the clever, award-winning ads from Honda use well-crafted interactive videos to tell a story about the performance heritage of its vehicles.

Consumers can toggle between two stories where the same man is collecting his son from school or racing his Honda through the dark city streets. I enjoyed the exploration of video platform technology with this work and if the user is engaged in the video, it’s a powerful longer form piece of content.

One thing to watch out for is that this ad requires participation from the user to be fully appreciated. However, the payoff for the consumer doesn’t offer much more than a fun toggling between screens.

2. Don’t rely on participation – or if you do, keep it simple

Few Gold Lion winners this year relied on active consumer participation. Those that did provided the industry with a gold standard in how to harness consumers’ online participation to change behaviour.

A campaign for Under Armour sportswear, the winner of the top prize in the Cyber category, was a powerful example of harnessing social chatter and responding to it. Negative online comments about Giselle Bundchen, the new female face of the brand, were curated and creatively exploded as a bold statement of the idea that you’re tough enough to overcome anything: “I will what I want”.

The Ice Bucket Challenge won a standing ovation as well as a Gold Lion in the category of User Generated Content and was the most memorable, global social campaigns of the year. It had a unique but simple ask of consumers to raise money for ALS: Pour a bucket of ice over your head and ask others to do the same, then donate.

3. Combine technology expertise with a strong brand idea

Nike’s House of Mamba is a great example of how specialist technology expertise can be combined with a creative brand idea.

The agency developed a responsive, LED basketball court. Lighting directs players in training drills or responds to their movement on court, making the spectator experience a rich, engaging one. This is an exceptional example of technology with creativity and give consumers a strong sense of the Nike brand purpose within an explosive brand experience.

Another outstanding demonstration of technology supporting ideas was the L’Oreal Make-Up Genius app, a virtual make-up mirror. The app, which took 18 months to develop, uses augmented reality technology to enable a user to select a make-up from the L’Oreal range and see it on their face.

Whether eye liner, lipstick or eye shadow, the execution appears flawless – the user really can see what they would look like with the make-up applied as if looking in the mirror. Driving thousands of new consumers to try L’Oreal products, this activity is one of the best examples of mobile marketing I’ve seen this year.

It’s clear the marriage of technology and brand ideas unlocks powerful entertainment and utility for brands to build connections with consumers. Every CMO should be asking their agencies and marketing teams to keep close to the changing technology landscape to input to making creative ideas that grow their business.

- Josie Brown is the APAC director of digital for J. Walter Thompson.

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