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Anthropomorphic Storytelling

Anthropomorphism is the process of giving human characteristics to inanimate objects, animals and plants. Technology advancements have allowed marketers to use computer-generated imagery (CGI) to develop new and innovative campaigns that can form a warm connection between the advert and viewer.

Viewers seem to be a lot more receptive to an animal with human characteristics promoting a service or product than with human-beings. This is where anthropomorphic storytelling comes in. A prime example of how successful a marketing campaign involving anthropomorphic characters can be is Comparethemarket.com’s Russian meerkat family.

 

 

Compare the Meerkat marketing campaign launched on 5th January 2009 and is still going strong today. The television adverts feature Aleksandr Orlov, a CGI anthropomorphic Russian meerkat, with his family and friends. Comparethemarket.com were soon seeing a fantastic return on investment, with it’s site becoming the fourth most visited insurance website in the UK, up from 16th in 2008. Furthermore, after launching the advertising campaign the company’s sales doubled.

Along with the television adverts, the campaign has grown further through the years. In October 2010 Aleksandr Orlov released his own autobiography, much to the public’s excitement. The book reached second place on the Amazon UK website on its first week of sale. And in July 2011 the company began production of cuddly toys representing each of the meerkat characters. A cuddly toy was given to every customer who bought an insurance policy through their website. Receiving a cuddly Orlov and Family toy was seen as a quirky incentive to use Comparethemarket.com.

meerkat toys

 

There are other companies too who have successfully included anthropomorphic storytelling in their marketing campaigns. Sofa retail chain Sofology, once Sofaworks, now have Neal the sloth who is the face of the company. Sofology also now offers a free cuddly Neal toy with every sofa purchase. From personal experience it really does work. We went into a local Sofology store just to see if we could get a Neal toy on its own. A couple of visits later we left with a sofa and two Neals!

 

A survey carried out by Promotional Products Week found that the UK is a nation of freebie hunters who will change brands for a free gift. The survey found that 3 in 10, of 1000 men and women asked, purposefully changed from their regular brand to receive a freebie. 34% said that they would be persuaded to change brands if there was a free cuddly toy on offer.

Is it because the toy is free that people are attracted to Comparethemarket.com or Sofology? I believe our affection and desire for these characters runs far beyond our need for a quick freebie. The cuddly toys are representations of animals that share the same human characteristics as us. Because they are anthropomorphic characters with personalities and emotions of their own, viewers can form their emotional connection’s with Neal and Aleksandr. They are like familiar, reoccurring friend’s.

Our affection is a result of clever storytelling. It gives the characters personality while moving them away from who they actually are: animals. Neal does not hang from a tree in any adverts, but instead he likes slouching on the sofa as we would at home in front of our own television sets. These human characteristic’s, effectively conveyed through the adverts, makes the viewers feel that they are more than just a CGI character and toy. They are relatable and more personable than a human could ever be.

Every successful marketing campaign starts with a great idea and a great story. If you want to discuss an idea with us or want some friendly creative advice we are just a phone call away. Get in touch with us to book a FREE consultation where you can discuss your business challenges and goals and how video can fit into your marketing plan.

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Five Brilliant British TV Ads

Following on from our Creative Producers article about the ‘The Power of Online Video for Advertising’ post for Business2Community.com we have compiled a little shortlist of five adverts broadcast in the UK that we really like. These adverts are for big brands, produced by agencies handed big budgets, but it is interesting to explore the different methods of storytelling used to effectively represent the brand and engage their respected target audiences.

Lynx Excite Deodorant – Fallen Angels

All the elements comer together to make this advert effortlessly cool and shooting in eastern Europe offers a beautiful rustic backdrop for the film to play out. Even the tag line is cool ‘Even Angels Will Fall’.

 

Honda – Cog

Simply genius design and a long thought out ninth-month process went into putting it together. Six months of planning followed by short segments filmed over fours days and you have one heck of an advert. Honda estimates that worldwide sales rose by nearly £400m on the back of the ad.

 

Sony BRAVIA – Balls

Much was made about the production team behind ‘Balls’ actually doing this for real and indeed they did. A quarter of a million rubber balls were bounced down Filbert and Leavenworth streets in San Francisco. Accompanied by the haunting vocals of Jose Gonzalez and you have a truly beautiful advert.

 

T-Mobile –  Dance

T-Mobile – Welcome Back

It’s impossible not to feel good after viewing both of these excellent T-Mobile adverts. The message here is ‘Life is for Sharing’ so get out your phone. Adverts that make you feel good, make you laugh and smile are definitely ones that will live long in the memory.

 

If you like what you see here get in touch below and see what our team can do for you. If you have a story to tell but don’t know how to tell it, we can help.

Great Storytelling Is Achievable With Advertising

“Stories, we all spend our life telling them… About this, about that. About people. But some are so good we wish they’d never end. They are so gripping, we would go without sleep to see a little bit more. Some stories bring us laughter, sometimes bring us tears. But isn’t that what a great story does?  Makes you feel? Stories that are so powerful, they really are with us forever…” – Dustin Hoffman, Sky Atlantic.

Advertising can be seen as a dirty word, and when you watch some of the TV ads that make their way onto the screen you can understand why. But it is definitely the best way to reach the widest audience and when done well, you can incorporate great brand storytelling.

More and more businesses are finding ways to tell a narrative tale through their advertising. Even the incredibly annoying Go Compare adverts have become an ongoing saga, with the excruciating Tenor now a tragi-comic character who is trying to find new ways to communicate his message after being blown up, fired into a Black Hole and god-knows what else. It might do your head in every time you see it, but you have to admit that it’s pretty clever.

Another example of narrative storytelling are the BT Broadband flatmates adverts. It helps that the three actors in the ads are all well-cast and talented actors in their own right. The acting and the writing is actually better than the majority of dramas of soaps that you see on the likes of BBC Three, ITV2 and E4. BT’s budget obviously helps in this regard, but it’s simple storytelling that everybody could do. Good scripts, talented actors and a solid film-making team don’t have to cost the world.

The BT Broadband advertising story goes back over three years, with Love Actually’s Kris Marshall starring as a young man dating an older woman who has two kids from a previous marriage. It followed his story from awkward exchanges with the kids all the way up to their marriage, and the story now follows the young son as he ventures off to university. It could quite easily have been a comedy-drama on BBC One, but it’s advertising. Really great marketing.

Here ‘s an examples of the BT Broadband story. See how brilliantly their stories are told, and how simple the storytelling is. You don’t need to smash your customers over the head with flashy visuals and manic editing, you can draw them in with simple, concise storytelling:

BT Broadband Story

It might not be within every businesses budget and marketing plan to have an ongoing advertising campaign, but this shouldn’t hold you back. You can still tell an incredible story with a one-off advertisement. Again, it doesn’t have to break the budget and be a 90 second version of James Cameron’s Avatar to grab the audience’s attention, it just needs to tell a great story.

Take a look at these two advertisements from Sky Atlantic and McDonald’s. Don’t be fooled by the size of the corporations behind these adverts: These are both achievable without millions of pounds behind them. Dustin Hoffman may have cost Sky a few quid, but it’s not the Oscar winning actor that grabs the attention. It’s the words he uses, the music in the background and the message it delivers: Great storytelling is here.

The McDonald’s ad tells the audience that everybody has McDonald’s in common, and it does it with a simple tale that a lot of us can relate to. Take away the McDonald’s banner at the end and you could quite easily be fooled into thinking this was a short film by Shane Meadows. The subtlety of the piece gets the message across without the use of a sledgehammer and it stays with you longer as a result. That’s what a great story does, and what great advertising can do when there is a great story being told within it.

Sky Atlantic Ad with Dustin Hoffman

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