For decades, TV advertising has used sight, sound, and motion to bring brands to life. But as audiences and the ways they watch TV change, how are today’s most innovative advertisers keeping pace?
Last week at Tribeca X, Chris Bruss, the Head of Roku Brand Studio, moderated a panel that included Melissa Grady, the CMO of Cadillac, Julian Jacobs, the co-head of UTA Marketing at United Talent Agency, and Angela Matusik, Head of Content & Creative for Hewlett-Packard. These leading marketers revealed how they’re evolving how their companies devise and distribute premium video advertising.
Angela and Melissa have one guiding principle to great storytelling: authenticity.
For example, HP’s “Dear Future Me,” a documentary film series shows high school seniors and sixth graders opening letters they wrote to their future selves years before. The series memorializes the students’ experience navigating the pandemic and, ultimately, shows their undaunted optimism about the future.
HP isn’t mentioned anywhere in the episodes other than the credits at the end. Angela said that this is intentional. The brand’s values are communicated through each episode, which work because of their authentic emotion.
Melissa told the audience that campaigns should connect with viewers on an emotional level and show the power of the product, not just the product itself. She highlighted a recent Cadillac campaign that showed off the semi-autonomous powers of the Super Cruise. In a series of videos, Cadillac filmed comedians and actors, including Tiffany Haddish, to show how people react when they let go of the steering wheel for the first time and let the car do the driving.
This emphasis on authenticity marks a big shift from ads of 30 years ago. To help brands express themselves authentically, both Angela and Melissa agreed that marketers should think about the audience first. Building ads for the audience instead of the product can result in stand-out creative.
Part of that authenticity comes down to who’s in the video.
Julian mentioned how both Hollywood actors such as Reese Witherspoon and YouTube celebrities alike have business interests that go beyond their acting. As more actors and influencers become multi-faceted entrepreneurs, they’re looking for deeper relationships with brands and TV streaming platforms.
“It’s been an evolution,” Julian said. “Traditional Hollywood talent now thinks differently about how they want to work with brands.”
Angela added that branded documentaries like “Dear Future Me” also offer a way for emerging filmmakers to experiment and find their voices. With real life stories and a strict no hyperbole ground rule, brands can show the same authenticity to their audience.
“This is the most exciting time in brand storytelling,” Julian added, “because there are so many new distribution platforms.”
With leading brands launching new ad campaigns to reach their customers, it makes sense that the next step would be to reimagine the ads themselves. With Roku Brand Studio, marketers are creating native video advertising that blend seamlessly with the content streamers love. They’re also sponsoring content so that TV streamers can watch for free in a branded environment. As HP, Cadillac, and UTA have shown, brands can win over their audiences when they go beyond the 30-second ad spot.
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