Frank Reef discusses advertising in Fonk


Frank Reef, Client Director at our Amsterdam office, wrote a column for Dutch magazine Fonk about commercials in November. Here’s a summary in English:

A recent Dutch publication (John Vijlbrief: ‘the internet television revolution’)  predicted the end of television as we know it. Probably not the first, but what struck me was the forecast of the end of days for television advertising, stating internet television will free us from the ads.

Now I seriously doubt whether internet television will ever free us from advertisements.  Isn’t it a fact that many online videos on YouTube are already pre-rolled with commercials? That is merely ‘the cost of free’. What I do find interesting, however, is that these online ads are usually the exact same commercials that are produced for television. Television is still the standard!

So what about the revolution? Well, it is obvious that online content has become a serious opponent for traditional television, also in advertising. Especially since young people spend significantly more time online gaming and on social media than they do watching television. But is it fair to say that young people watch less ads? Not necessarily. Commercials can make great content. And there is the paradigm shift. Don’t start cheering yet. Sorry to say –  the average commercial is not great content. Don’t expect your washing detergent ad to shine online.

So, what does a revolutionary commercial look like? Volkswagen’s Darth Vader commercial was shared online over 4 million times and had 15 million views in the first 5 days alone. The official YouTube version now counts over 45 million views, not counting the numerous copies on other sources.

Another nice example is Heineken’s new international commercial (and now finally showing in Holland as well),  The Entrance which received 4 million views in the first months. The Sequel already shows over 8 million hits on YouTube.

What these brands understand well is that commercials are not just about product placement. Video is the ideal medium for storytelling and brands have great stories to tell. It is through experience that people connect emotionally to a brand. And it shows, because it is the same people that post, like and share their favorite commercials on their Facebook walls.

And by no means Volkswagen and Heineken were first. Remember the first Sony Bravia commercial (2005) or The Hire short film series by BMW (2001)? That was before Facebook had 800 million active users…

What has been the golden rule on the web since the start, may just be the one for the revolution of advertising. Content is king! And as long as television still remains the standard, please don’t forget that your commercials are may be shared by millions of users online and are virally reaching your key audience at no extra cost.

Posted on Dec 22nd 2011 by · Permalink
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