In this month's issue of CAA magazine (Canadian Automobile Association), there's an ad for the association's Battery Assist program that features a photo of an old "Motel" sign sitting above the roof of a rather withered and ageing motel. The sign bears a resemblance to the type of motel one might see in a movie like Psycho or some other Hollywood thriller.
What's unique about this ad is the advertisers ability to put us in the picture through effective use of words and visuals. Most people can identify with the story in the ad through their experience and interaction with characters in movies. The copy and visuals serve to bring us closer into the experience, and as a result we remember the ad through our interaction with it.
The copy (resembling handwriting on a postcard) reads: "Ever feel like you're living in a movie? Picture this: The oldest, weirdest motel you've ever seen, and us, out front with a dead battery. For my part, I didn't know what we'd do. Then, the leading man at reception called CAA Battery Assist for us. Nice. They installed a replacement on the spot. Ready to go, we drove off in a cloud of dust while the motel man waved goodbye. Just like a scene from some crazy movie."
What is it about the movies that we find so engaging? Why is it we can identify with the plight faced by characters in a movie? Why is it we're so eager to forget our troubles for a while and lose ourselves in the experience?
Advertisers have been quick to capitalize on storytelling elements to sell products. The ads we remember the most are those that relate to us on a "human" level. We're drawn in by people who experience emotion, as we can identify the plight of those people by comparing their situation to our own. Their challenges become our own, as we're drawn into the 'mini-plot' or core emotion found in the ad. The challenges faced by characters in the movies become the same challenges faced by all of humanity.
Advertisers who have effectively used movies or elements found in movies (ie. storytelling) to sell products include:
- BMW Mini (mini-films placed on web)
- Oldsmobile (to advertise their "Silhouette" minivan - copy reads "Go places you've never been before...Movies have taken us places beyond our imagination. Now you can take those movies places you never thought possible with the Silhouette Premiere - the first minivan with a built-in video entertainment system")
- Max Factor (described the story of Max Factor and how he created the make-up industry by focusing on glamour in Hollywood - tagline read "Max Factor - the man who made up Hollywood")
- Tim Horton's - frequently uses stories that cater to viewers emotions (ie. the hockey Dad who shows up at his son's hockey game later in life)
- Budweiser - "Hank's" attempts to become a Budweiser superhorse to the tune of Rocky in the Superbowl ad
Where else do you see movies (or elements found in moviemaking) used in advertising? Do you find it's an effective way to sell product? Why or why not? Are there certain products where the use of movies or moviemaking elements are more effective?