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Are Adverts Seen as a Form of Entertainment Now, Because so Much Money is Spent on Them?

Adverts have evolved substantially throughout the years with millions of pounds being spent on them. Tory Gillespie asks if adverts are now a form of entertainment or if it is a waste of money.

As the consumer becomes more and more canny, advertising must evolve to become more intelligent. As a society we constantly want more – from life, from our products and even from our advertisers. It’s not enough to merely tell us that you have a superior product. We want to engage with the campaign and have an emotional response to the brand. At least, that’s what the current trend is telling us.

“People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Steve Jobs

If you had pitched the idea of a meerkat being the spokesperson for a website that compares insurance five years ago, any right-thinking ad-exec would have laughed you out of the room. What he didn’t realise, is that Alexsander Meerkat was going to entertain people so much that they would use Compare The Market, just so they could get a cuddly toy meerkat. A crazy way to choose your insurer? Yes. A clever campaign that people find funny and engaging? Absolutely.

When Yeo Valley wanted to promote their organic yoghurts to a new audience, they created a boyband. Their ‘ad’ was a two minute spoof music video which was played out on TV in full only once, during the X-Factor final. There was a huge social media presence and the video has over 750,000 hits on YouTube. This campaign was entertainment in its own right – yes, the lyrics of the song were telling us about good quality yogurt and organic farming methods, but the music was catchy, the video was funny and the guys were boy-band-hot.

The winner of the ‘Most Money Spent on One Ad’ award, goes to Nike’s ‘Write The Future’ campaign. It aired during the 2010 World Cup and was a multi-million pound extravaganza that aired world-wide. Figures indicating a total cost are not available, but if I told you that the airtime for the UK launch, during half-time of the FA Cup final, cost about half a million pounds alone, can you imagine how much the overall budget was?! Honestly, I can’t. The ad was a three minute epic, featuring 24 huge names in sport and requiring 18 months of visual effects work. It was arguably more exciting than the World Cup that year, and has had over 40 million online viewings. I’ll admit, I thought that was incredible, until I saw this circulating Facebook last week:
At the time of writing, this video of Jean-Claude Van Damme being badass had had 40,000,000 views. It had been posted the week before. One week.

The best TV ads have higher budgets than our programmed entertainment (in the UK at least) and use directors that are more used to feature length than 30-90 seconds. Does that make advertisements entertainment in their own right? Well, that’s certainly what advertisers would like us to think. We’re too aware of the hard sell methods that used to be standard, now the aim is to make us forget that they’re trying to sell. In such a busy marketplace, yelling doesn’t work any more. You want my attention? Entertain me.

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