Riddle me this: Why do people buy quarter-inch drill bits?
There are a million possible answers to this question, but Leo McGinneva offers an interesting explanation: “They don’t want quarter-inch bits. They want quarter-inch holes.”
This is exactly what drives today’s best marketing videos.
This notion suggests that as consumers, we aren’t after all the bells and whistles as much as the solutions they provide. In other words, we don’t want to know what brands are selling — we want to hear, read, and watch stories of people who have the same challenges we do.
Not only has this mentality led to the demise of many traditional marketing practices, but it has also set the stage for more human interactions between brands and consumers. Why do these interactions work so well? Because they don’t feel like marketing.
What better medium to propel this new wave of humanized marketing than video? It’s one of the most effective mediums for marketers. Globally, according to 2018 survey, 54% of consumers say they prefer to see video from a brand or business they support over other types of content.
To help inspire your own video marketing efforts, we’ve rounded up 17 lovable marketing videos from the past five years. Go grab some popcorn. You won’t believe some of these were created by a marketing team.
17 Video Marketing Campaigns You’ll Actually Enjoy Watching
1. Canadian Tire: Wheels
Canadian Tire’s 2016 ad, “Wheels,” ran during the 2016 Summer Olympics, and turned out to be one of the most viral marketing videos of 2017. And it has something to do with why I cried watching it.
This commercial focuses on a little boy in a wheelchair who’s excluded from everyday activities, like playing basketball with other kids in the neighborhood. One of these kids meets the boy in the wheelchair and creates a basketball game just for him. Although Canadian Tire barely brands this adorable video, it shows its support for Canada’s Olympic Team such that anyone can empathize with it, while subtly calling back to its product (wheels) at the same time.
Don’t be afraid to show support for things that don’t directly involve your business. It isn’t just your goal to sell products — it’s your goal to associate with the best in your community. Reimagine your company in a way that shows why you do what do, and deliver that message at specific times during the year.
2. Google Android: Friends Furever
While the curation probably took a while, there wasn’t much original content creation going on here — it’s really just a series of clips of unlikely animals palling around together. I mean, who doesn’t want to see a parrot feeding spaghetti to a husky? Or a monkey climbing onto (and promptly falling off of) a horse’s back? And yet, the video was shared more than 6.4 million times, according to video ad tech company Unruly.
Even the simplest of videos can be super shareable with the right subject matter. In this case, that subject matter is animals, which the folks at Android used to focus on shared experiences. By tapping into viewers’ emotions, the video has built-in broad appeal and shareability.
3. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams: Build Your Own Ice Cream Sandwich
At least watch from the 20-second mark. Trust me.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is a modest ice cream shop from Columbus, Ohio, and its YouTube channel proves you don’t need studio-level equipment to make lovable videos. This stylish dessert parlor uses catchy music and “from the ground up” ingredients to feeds its customers’ interests before they’ve even had a scoop. Also, there’s something so satisfying about seeing food made in front of you.
This is terrific small business marketing. When you launch an account on YouTube or another social network, hit the ground running with content that is authentically you. Come out swinging with a style and tone you want to be known for. Too much content is created every day to wait for your audience to come to you.
4. Reebok: 25,915 Days
The average human lives for 25,915 days — and Reebok wants us to use those days to continuously honor and push our bodies to their physical limits. Their video promoting the #HonorYourDays campaign doesn’t contain any spoken words, but the message is powerful: Make the most of the days you have by, as they put it, “honoring the body you’ve been given.”
The video follows one woman’s relationship with running in reverse, from her running the Reebok-sponsored Spartan Race as a middle-aged woman, to running track in high school, all the way back to the day she was born. It’s a great way for Reebok to communicate their brand mission of changing how people perceive and experience fitness at every age — and of letting customers know they’ll be there to cover their athletic gear needs throughout their lives.
At the end of the video, there’s even a clickable CTA that reads, “Calculate your days.”
Although it might strike some as a bid morbid, the copy is in keeping with the brand’s “tough fitness” theme. Click the CTA, and you’ll get taken to a campaign website where people can share photos showing how they’re honoring their bodies, along with their “number.” Pretty cool.
Putting a sense of urgency (limited time) behind your message can be a powerful psychological motivator (take action now so you don’t miss out). This makes your message not only compelling, but also actionable.
5. Code.org: What Most Schools Don’t Teach
You’ll recognize a few names and faces in this marketing video — the piece opens with a quote by Steve Jobs and is, ironically, followed by an introduction by Bill Gates.
Code.org is a nonprofit that promotes access to computer science in schools across the country. And although its video above is a great example of influencer marketing, the tech giants it features are just part of what made the piece so popular. The faces above are leaders of the most famous software companies in the world, and yet they all described their humble beginnings in a field they think anyone can succeed in.
Sometimes, your field can seem intimidating to the ones outside it. If you want to grow your audience, you need to level with it. Customers are looking at your business through the lens of the industry you’re in. It’s your job to lower the barrier to entry.
6. Alibaba: To the Greatness of Small
This global marketing video comes to us from Alibaba, a multinational ecommerce platform based in China. Alibaba’s global footprint is at least as big as Amazon’s, but for those of you who aren’t familiar with this brand, it made a heartfelt statement of loyalty to Team Kenya during the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The message at the end of the video is creative marketing at its finest: Greatness comes from small places. Just like a young athlete with Olympic dreams, all great brands start with an ambitious founder.
It can be tempting to target as many people as possible to get the most eyes on your business. But sometimes the most powerful messages resonate with the smallest audiences. Stick your neck out for an underdog, and you’ll impress everyone else while you’re at it.
7. Coca-Cola: The Last Customer
This might be one of the most uplifting holiday videos by a brand you’ll ever see.
Soda companies have been known for their memorable marketing campaigns — both Coca-Cola and Pepsi are in the first commercial break of the Super Bowl every year with an intense new spot. In the video above, Coca-Cola treated the Philippines market to a Christmas campaign that gave more than 15,000 people a surprise gift for the holidays. And it only starts with a Coke.
Coca-Cola won people’s attention by showing them a commitment to the season of giving. By doing something for others that has no tangible benefit to you, you’ll appear more trustworthy, generous, and human to your customers.
8. GoPro: Fireman Saves Kitten
If you’re familiar with GoPro’s user-generated content, you probably noticed that this isn’t their typical video. GoPro has done a great job of defining their brand as adventurous and extreme — and the vast majority of the user-generated videos they repurpose and put out on their own channels involves stuff like jumping out of airplanes and surfing giant waves.
But this video of a firefighter saving a kitten from a fire doesn’t have any of that. So why did GoPro chose to cut and polish this video for their own marketing? It helps them appeal to a wider audience outside the realm of extreme sports. It’s still a unique and inspiring video like many of their others, and the “everyday heroism” theme is intact, but it goes beyond the brand’s typical athlete persona.
Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of your brand’s image. Find ways to change the way you exhibit the various themes in your brand’s personality, and experiment with different topics and formats that could help you widen your audience.
9. Always: Like a Girl
Like Dove, Always has been approaching their marketing by combining empowering messages with realistic — as opposed to idealistic — portrayals of their target audience. In their “Like a Girl” campaign, the company uses the famous insult to grab your attention — and then change the conversation about what it means to run, throw, and fight “like a girl.”
Marketing that empowers the consumer — rather than making them feel inadequate — resonates. Acknowledge those all-too-familiar human emotions like anxiety or self-consciousness, and turn them on their head.
10. American Greetings: World’s Toughest Job
Aside from the small quip about getting your mom a card for Mother’s Day at the close of the video, the bulk of the content is seemingly free of sales innuendo and product placement. Refreshing, right?
By using a creative, faux interview process to bring to light the impressive day-to-day routines of moms everywhere, it’s hard for viewers to walk away from this video not feeling appreciative. (Now go call your mom and tell her you love her!)
Leverage a plot twist. When the audience can’t predict the outcome, they’ll be more likely to remain engaged throughout the entirety of your content.
11. Nike Women: Better For It
This series by Wieden + Kennedy and Nike Women uses honest humor to shed light on the “inner thoughts” women experience at the gym (though I’m certain there is a male equivalent to these types of situations).
This instinctively human account provides viewers with an opportunity to bond with the brand. This ultimately gives them a leg up on the competition, as a sense of empathy often goes a long way when it comes to influencing a consumer’s preferences.
Add a little humor into your messaging. Though it can be tough to pull off, it can lower the barrier between you and your audience and establish a sense of relatability.
12. BuzzFeed for Purina: Puppyhood
Although this video is about a man who adopts and raises a puppy, it’s not meant to be inspiring — it’s meant to be entertaining. And entertaining it is: BuzzFeed did a great job writing a script that takes all the classic puppy stories you’ve heard (puppy chewing on the furniture; puppy keeping you up all night) and turns them into a delightful story of a man and his dog spending time together.
Although it’s obvious to today’s trained consumer that Purina’s Puppy Chow brand is behind the video, the product placement is so subtle that it’s not bothersome at all. Video marketers, take note.
Create stories that show your product or service in the context of an average customer’s daily life without making it feel like an ad. That way, the video gets its point across and moves the marketing needle while still delighting viewers.
13. Dove: Choose Beautiful
Dove does it again. While this video marketing campaign by Ogilvy & Mather Chicago received some mixed reviews when it was first released, there is no denying that Dove is adept at crafting stories and encouraging their community to participate in those stories.
By focusing less on their product and more on their mission, Dove has been successful in creating emotional viral videos that have helped them stay top-of-mind.
Think about tying your marketing to a larger mission to cultivate a loyal following. According to research conducted by Scott Magids, Alan Zorfas, and Daniel Leemon, customers who are “fully connected” emotionally to a brand spend twice as much on average than customers categorized as “highly satisfied.” Take advantage of this by committing to emotionally-charged marketing that makes customers feel recognized and important.
14. Facebook: ‘Tips’ Series
In this video marketing series, Facebook presents 12 different functions of the platform as they relate to real-life user scenarios, such as the need to turn notifications off, add a friend to a group, unfollow your oversharing friend, or use a sticker to express feelings that don’t quite translate into words (explained in the video above).
While the tutorials are tied directly to Facebook’s product, they’re not pitchy. Instead, they aim to provide answers to users’ most common questions in an entertaining and lighthearted way. It doesn’t hurt that they’re also simple to follow and clock in at only 20 seconds long.
Understand your audience’s needs better than anyone else, and play to them in your videos. In addition, don’t mistake “longer” for “better” — if your message can be expressed in just a few seconds, don’t drag out the length of your video unnecessarily.
15. Intel: ‘Meet the Makers’ Series
Intel’s five-part “Meet the Makers” series looks more like the inspirational, uplifting stories you see on the news rather than videos created by a brand. Each video profiles a person around the world who uses Intel products to create amazing experiences and new technology.
In this video, for example, a 13-year-old named Shubham Banerjee tells the story of how he used Intel’s technology to prototype and build an affordable braille printer to help more people who are blind read.
The common denominator? The folks in these videos use technology to help people and make the world a better and more interesting place. By providing viewers with an inspirational look at how technology is changing our experiences, they were able to drum up interest in a way that a traditional, product-centric advertisement couldn’t.
Think in terms of macro and micro in your video marketing. Evaluate the macro effect that your product or service is having on your industry or the world as a whole, and then hone in on someone’s micro experience to deliver a relatable and compelling story.
16. Artifact Uprising: On Legacy
Artifact Uprising is a company that helps you create custom photo books, albums, cards, and print photos. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of special meaning and emotion connected to each book — and that kind of emotion is hard to capture with just words.
That’s exactly why Artifact Uprising creates videos like this one: to showcase some of those touching, individual stories. In this case, it’s an elderly man who created a photo book to leave his children and grandchildren as part of his legacy. At one point, the man is moved to tears as he reads the book, saying, “I haven’t read it [in] a while.”
Find out how people are using your product or service to better their lives, and share their inspiring stories with the world through video. They’ll do a much better job of advocating for your product or service’s value than a piece of purely fact-based marketing content ever could.
17. Google Earth: Homeward Bound
This emotional account of Saroo Brierley’s journey to trace back his original roots after a tragic separation from his family is nothing short of powerful.
By inserting their product into a story of loss, love, and restoration, Google Earth was successful in positioning its capabilities as life-changing — but it doesn’t feel too showy. The video makes you feel that Google Earth isn’t out to make money, but rather, they’re out to build a service to improve the lives of their users.
Again, appeal to emotion. While you don’t want to abuse this approach, emotion is an incredibly powerful driver that can influence the way people act and respond to your product or service.
Now it’s your turn.
Video can do wonders to increase content engagement and clickthrough rates — but we know that actually making videos can be intimidating. Many marketers get paralyzed by the “no time, too hard” fallacy of creating video content.
But if you think you need fancy camera equipment and editing software to make video work, or that video seems like a luxury you can’t afford … it’s time to take a new approach to your video marketing strategy. You can create great videos for social media without all those bells and whistles. (Ever heard of Facebook Live? It was made for creating videos using just your smartphone!)
Use these marketing videos as inspiration, and create some cool visual content of your own.
Want more visual content tips? Check out these stunning visual storytelling examples.