I’ve always enjoyed commercials produced by ESPN over the years. The “This Is SportsCenter” series are full of classic, memorable spots. Viewers can appreciate the commercials, even if they aren’t sports fans; even if they aren’t familiar with the particular athlete or team being represented. In recent years, promos for ESPN’s College Game Day have become just as memorable. But what is it about these commercials that are so effective?
Personality. The people on screen are charismatic. They’re captivating. Forget for a moment that the news anchors, athletes, and coaches are celebrities. Think about how they present themselves on camera. They’re relaxed. They’re having fun. They’re natural. They seem friendly. Whatever video project you’re working on, make sure that the people on camera have personality. Your talent needs to connect personally with your audience.
Juxtaposition. The “This is SportsCenter” campaign is a lesson in contrast, and that’s part of the appeal. They take athletes, coaches, and mascots, pull them out of context, and place them within the confines of an ordinary, corporate office environment. Visually, it doesn’t match up, which lends itself to some great comedic moments. At the same time, it perfectly captures what ESPN is all about – they live sports. How can you communicate the core identity of your business or service by meshing two seemingly contradictory ideas or visuals?
Performance. The ESPN commercials are not centered on complex animation, bold graphics, intense music, or a stylized look. They are based on a solid idea, with strong copy, and excellent performances from the on-camera talent. A good video isn’t built on a lot of sizzle and special effects. Those things can certainly enhance a video, but without a creative idea at its core, your message won’t be communicated effectively. Start with the idea. Lean on a video production company to help you develop it into something unique. And rely on the performance(s) of talented individuals to give the video life and personality.
Here is one of the latest ESPN College GameDay commercials:
A couple of weeks ago I posted a case study on the new CommuteSmart TV commercials we produced last month. I embedded one of the commercials in that particular post. The entire project consisted of three commercials – two thirty-second spots and one ten-second spot. Here is the other thirty-second commercial that focuses on carpooling.
It’s not even Super Bowl Sunday yet, and this commercial from Volkswagen has already earned over 5 million views on YouTube. It’s become an instant hit. As I’ve written before, no one can predict that something will go viral, but there are some guidelines to keep in mind when producing online video to help make your content more watchable and shareable. There are several things I like about this Darth Vader spot:
Iconic Imagery – Everyone, whether a Star Wars fan or not, will recognize Darth Vader
Cultural Significance – The Star Wars franchise is ingrained into our culture. When we hear that music or see that mask, we instantly pay attention
Hyper-Relevance – Even if you aren’t a parent, you understand that children love to dress up and pretend. It’s fun to watch, and to see this kid walk around the house, trying to invoke the Force is incredibly entertaining. Plus, you know you tried to do the same thing when you were little. Heck, I sometimes still pretend that I can use the Force when elevator doors or sliding doors at the grocery store open by themselves.
I would love to hear if you like this commercial. Leave your opinions in the comments section.
If you love using Foursquare to “check in” at various locations around the city, AND if you love watching TV and discovering new shows, then you will probably enjoy Philo. The goal of Philo is to make television viewing more social. People who install the app tell others in their network when they have “tuned in” to a particular show. Then, they can comment on the show with others in their network in real-time, much like Twitter. It’s a great way to discuss television content and discover new shows. Shows that you watch are shared across the network and on other social sites like Facebook. Check out the article on Mashable about the app where you can read about additional features and view screenshots. Happy viewing.
In 2008 I worked as Director of Photography for the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival’s TV commercial. Filament Artists, a local creative services agency, handled production and post-production. Todd Hornsby was the producer and Sam McDavid was the writer/director. This year, the decision-makers at Sidewalk asked Filament to do it once again, and I had another opportunity to work as Director of Photography for the project. The Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival is now in its 12th year, and will be held in downtown Birmingham September 24-26.