Animated commercials are one of the most powerful marketing tools in any brand’s arsenal.
These types of videos can be used in almost any context by companies of all industries. Animated advertising videos allow brands to portray complex ideas simply, tell a heartwarming story to get an emotional response from the viewer, and reach a broad audience with content that can be easily shared on multiple platforms.
We love the creative freedom that comes with making animated ads. Read on to learn more about why you should be exploring the world of animated commercials to boost your business, and find some inspiration in the carefully curated list of the 10 most beautiful and effective animated ads examples. For anyone looking to up their marketing game in 2023, you’re in the right place.
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What’s an animated ad?
No need to overthink this one: an animated ad is any sort of promotional video used by businesses to make an audience aware of products, services, or a brand.
This sort of advertising has a history dating back to the 40s, so the power of animated videos in marketing has long been recognized by all sorts of companies. These types of videos are especially effective in telling a narrative that captivates an audience’s emotions. They can range from simple graphic animations to more complex ideas with compelling visuals, background music, and voiceovers.
Practically any industry can make use of the power of an animated ad — we’ll show you some stand-out examples from the food, retail, and tech industries, just to name a few.
Why use animated ads?
Opting for commercial animations can have a plethora of benefits:
Save some moolah
For starters, you’ll be getting some bang for your buck. If you hire the right animator or develop the necessary skills yourself, you’re guaranteed to end with a superb-quality end product. Even taking into account the cost of this labor, creating an animated marketing video will generally be much cheaper than hiring a whole team to shoot and edit a live-action commercial. It’s also much simpler for a remote team to collaborate on an animated video than a shoot that requires in-person involvement.
Capture your audience
Aside from the practical benefits, motion animation can be a powerful marketing tool for engaging an audience. Animated ads can tap into that childlike, heartwarming feeling you only get from watching cartoon animations. They associate your brand with a feeling of friendliness and approachability which is hard to recreate in other types of marketing videos.
Set your creativity free
Animators will also rejoice in the amount of creative freedom they have when creating this type of marketing content. The imagination truly is the limit here, and no concept is out of bounds when pesky constraints like the laws of reality are no longer a concern.
Develop your brand
Another great aspect of animation in advertising is the ease of continuing a story through multiple ad campaigns. You can introduce themes and characters to represent your brand which reappear multiple times in different contexts. This helps viewers build up a sense of brand identity and become invested in the stories you’re telling over time. This emotional investment also makes them more likely to share your campaigns online.
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Call the viewer to act
Finally, it’s very easy to incorporate a clear message and CTA within animated adverts, because of their simplicity and easy intelligibility. This will actively engage your audience and improve conversions to translate into increased profits.
What will push my animated ad from good to great?
Here are some general pointers on what can turn simple animations into truly compelling video advertisements.
Get the rhythm right
Most animated ads last 30 seconds to a minute, meaning you don’t have a ton of time to get your story across. This isn’t a constraint so much as an opportunity to tighten your pacing and take the viewer on a carefully planned journey through the narrative. A seamlessly paced video is the key to keeping the audience engaged in the attention economy — one or two seconds of wasted time and you’re in danger of being scrolled past.
Understand your brand — and use it
Draw on recognizable branding to add a level of familiarity to your videos. Think clear color schemes, repeated narrative themes, and recurring characters. A strong sense of branding will leave a lasting impression on audiences and improve brand recognition over time, which is key for turning potential customers into loyal consumers.
Drive the message home
As we mentioned above, the most effective videos will bring in a clear call to action to actively direct viewers toward your brand. Make sure the viewers know where to go next to learn more about the service or product, and ultimately start making purchases.
Now for our list of the 10 most amazing animated commercials in modern history. Grab a pencil - you'll want to be taking notes.
John Lewis - The bear and the hare
This beautiful video solidified John Lewis' annual Christmas advert as a beloved tradition for viewers. The animation style is charming and cozy, and the sentimental background music tugs at the viewer's heartstrings while the story unfolds. It's a quintessential example of how incorporating a simple yet compelling story into your animation video can create long-lasting, positive associations with your brand.
Ben and Jerry’s - Back to the mooture
This explainer video dives into the history of the ice cream brand, taking the viewer on a fun journey by using funky styles of animation and an energetic voice-over. Structuring the story around the journey of an animated ice cream van is an effective tool in making the video super easy to follow.
Coca-Cola - Catch
Coca-Cola's 2012 Superbowl ad reintroduces the same loveable polar bear characters they had already established in previous commercial videos. The power of the ad comes from the simple comedic plot paired beautifully with Beethoven's 5th Symphony, not to mention the impressively animated visuals of the arctic setting.
Cadbury Dairy Milk - Aliens
Cadbury has a reputation for producing top-notch video marketing content, and this advert is no different. The cartoon takes viewers to an exciting alien world and incorporates upbeat music to engage the audience. The final animated slogan "Free the Joy" associates the product with fun, freedom, and community.
Slack - Work, simplified.
This commercial proves that form and content should go hand-in-hand. What better way to show that Slack is a beautifully simple tool than to create a beautifully simple ad? Follow the character from a hectic, tedious work environment to a clear, bright, and fun alternative, told purely through a shift in color scheme and music. With such a simple core idea, there's no voiceover necessary to get the message across.
Lyft - June
This online video is more of a short movie animation than a standard advert. The cinematic artistry really shines through, telling a more intricate and emotionally compelling story than you could get in a shorter ad. The brand is subtly woven into the narrative, which allows the loveable character at the heart of the story to shine through. Not to mention that the beautiful animation style is of the highest quality.
Nike - Air reinvented
This rebranding announcement shows how much fun you can have with animation advertising. The creative idea here is to track the history of the Nike Air shoe design, with the animation styles updating along with the shoe styles through the decades. Fun, fresh, and colorful -- this one's the perfect summer commercial.
Headspace - Brilliant things happen in calm minds
In a short time, Headspace has crafted an iconic brand presence by using a consistent animation style and unique character figures in its marketing. This advert is an excellent example of how you can use animation to illustrate abstract concepts in an intelligible way. It also features a clear CTA to encourage the audience to explore the product further.
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Heinz - A can size for every Aussie
Heinz's cartoon advertisement takes inspiration from the beloved Pixar-style animation visuals, as well as telling a cinematic and emotionally compelling story. The beautiful visuals portray a loveable character and provide a heartwarming backstory for a whole range of Heinz products.
Spotify - Premium zen
Here's an example of a video commercial that knows its audience. Spotify's advertising campaign for its Premium service makes use of retro animated visuals accompanied by a classic 80s song as its backdrop, signaling a clear target audience. It also shows how you can incorporate multiple brands within a single video commercial.
Hopefully this list of advertising animations has inspired you to incorporate animation videos into your marketing strategy. If you do, you'll be improving user engagement, creating shareable video content to reach a wider audience, and strengthening your brand identity.
For more animation inspiration, check out this post on our favorite 2D animated commercials. For ways to improve your motion graphics skills, look no further than our own tutorials and illustration tools.
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Jonny is a contributing writer to the Linearity Blog.