Television commercial ads have been making people laugh, cry, and sing since the mid-20th century. Most importantly for the companies selling the products and services being advertised, for decades TV commercials guided by video marketing techniques have been an effective way to reach a wide group of consumers at one time. The best ones through time have not only helped to increase exposure, sales, and revenue, they have also been implanted into the social memory of the country and remembered for generations.
At their best, TV commercial ads both entertain the viewer and provide them with valuable information regarding a particular product and service. They are designed to introduce a target audience or the public at large to a new concept or brand that will drive them to action. Since it began, television has always been an effective means of reaching large groups of potential customers and now with the addition of streaming services and social media, the landscape is ripe with opportunities to make an impact.
How to Make an Effective TV Commercial Ad
In today’s digital age, the format options for creating television commercials offer everything from green screen technology to various forms of animation. Whether using computer digitized animation or a business owner standing in front of the camera with their product, delivering the right message for your product or service has more to do with making the content compelling enough for viewers to make a connection to your brand.
Memorable commercials that have stood the test of time have been funny, emotional, motivational, or otherwise exciting or interesting enough to make a lasting impression through time. Every industry and business is different, and it takes varying approaches to specific target audiences to connect in the way needed to for brand awareness and loyalty.
When setting out to make an effective television commercial for today’s market, in addition to being compelling and memorable, it must also be likable and sharable for the crucial social media environment. Commercial ads are designed to capture the viewers’ attention long enough to communicate your message clearly and drive consumers to act.
Examples of Some of the Best TV Ads of All-Time
While a list of the best TV commercial ads of all time may seem a bit of a subjective task, there is no arguing that the following classic ads made an impact on the advertising world and the social culture unlike any others in the history of television. Each made a unique mark in the industry for using creative approaches introduce products, increase brand awareness and loyalty, and most importantly, compel the viewer to buy.
In 1984, Apple opened the door to a new world of computing and communication by introducing the Macintosh home computer during Super Bowl XVIII. Using the styling, imagery, and music from the dystopian George Orwell novel and film “1984,” it was arguably the most important, prophetic, and famous commercials of all time.
This ad put a historical perspective on the moment in a creative way that not only wanted consumers to purchase the product but stood the test of time in message and branding. Since then, Apple has continued to drive and control a great deal of the marketplace, leading the tech industry in home and business digital applications.
Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
Old Spice pulled out all the stops in the production of this 2010 ad featuring actor and former football player Isaiah Amir Mustafa. The commercial was quick-paced, funny, and stayed on-brand as it showed Mustafa seamlessly going from the shower to a boat to the beach and ending up on a horse (spoiler alert) without breaking facial movement or stride.
Video of the ad went viral in the initial 30-second video that has not been viewed over 57 million times (including a few times in the writing of this blog). The initial ad propelled a series of ads that resulted in one of the most successful campaigns ever.
Sony Bravia: Bouncing Balls
We are visual people and more commercial ads and videos are being presented without sound as more users view content on their phones or other mobile devices. Using the perfect mix of mesmerizing music and the compelling images of colored balls bouncing down the hilly streets of San Francisco, Sony presented a stunning long-form commercial for its new LCD television in 2009.
From a production cost standpoint, it was a logistical nightmare to control and film the bouncing of the 250,000 balls used in the filming of the ad. The balls used in the commercial were donated to local children and children’s groups as a way to connect to the community.
Nike: Just Do It
Most people associate basketball great Michael “Air” Jordan with Nike’s famous swish logo and the iconic “Just Do It” campaign, but it was 80-year-old marathon runner Walt “Iron Man” Stack running the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in 1988 that started it all. Soon the Chicago Bulls young superstar and other world-famous athletes were telling the world to “Just Do It” while Nike’s sale kept rising.
The catchphrase and the shoe company’s popularity continued into the 21st century and even their youngest fans today associate it with the brand. The concept was simple. Forget any excuses and put aside any challenges or obstacles. Just do it and get on with your life. It was as relatable a concept that would appeal to just the right audience group as there ever was in the history of advertising.
Coke: Share A Coke
The Coca-Cola company is arguably the most recognizable corporate brand in the history of advertising and has been responsible for some of the most iconic television commercials and campaigns of all time. From Mean Joe Green to teaching the world to smile, Coke has been a part of American society and culture for many years, expanding to a global entity that all others aspire to.
In 2011, they took a personal touch with the “Share a Coke” campaign that began with putting generic titles like “Mom” and “Bestie” on their individual-sized bottles before adding specific names. This led to people searching for their names and spawned a creative, personalized product enhancement. Customers can now order customized bottles with their names on them.
Advertising executives and marketers spend their careers searching for the perfect catchphrase that will take off. It has to be short, easy to remember, and identifiable with the brand. Budweiser found such a catchphrase at the turn of the century with the video marketing campaign ad “Whassup”. At one point late in 1999 and well into 2000 you could not go far without hearing someone let out a long, loud “Whassup” either in person or on the phone.
The ad debuted during Monday Night Football and exploded into the social consciousness when it aired during Super Bowl XXXIV in early 2000. It featured cuts from friends on a group call with each participant greeting the group by yelling “Whassup?” louder and more obnoxious than the previous one. It is a prime example of a catchphrase perfectly capturing the brand and customer base.
Dos Equis: The Most Interesting Man In The World
“I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, it’s Dos Equis.” Another beer commercial that turned into an incredibly successful campaign was the 2006 ad for Dos Equis featuring Jonathon Goldsmith as “the most interesting man in the world.” The ad campaign took viewers on various adventures with the most interesting man, who encouraged them to “stay thirsty, my friends.”
Its popularity came at a time when memes were beginning to be used as a primary source of communication on social media. Goldsmith and his commercials became a huge meme source, expanding the brand’s outreach and acceptance. Even over a decade later, current events and the latest celebrities are subjected to the most interesting man in the world via memes and other images with his face on it.
Sometimes the simplest images are the most powerful. High tech in movies, television, and commercials is often used to create big imagery that overtakes the screen and your mind. The “motaur” commercial by Progressive Insurance Commercial is an excellent example of using the technology in a softer way that is just as impactful.
The simple image of the half man-half motorcycle filling up at the gas station is as powerful as any large screen explosion for true motor-heads and bikers, and relatable to everyone else. It evokes just the right amount of universal humor and awkwardness that makes it an ideal share for social media.
The Secret to Success for TV Commercials
The problem is there are no secrets to the creation of a viral video or a television commercial that is going to generate interest, sales, and revenue. The common thread among the most popular and successful ads and campaigns throughout the short history of the industry has been honesty, creativity, and delivering a clear message in a compelling, interesting way.