Animation has been part of advertising since the advent of motion pictures. From Maypo in the 1950s to Geico and Red Bull now, mascots and other animated elements populate some of the most memorable brand campaigns.
But just how effective are they, and when should brands use them? A recent study from analytics firm Ace Metrix surveyed responses to 14 recent campaigns featuring animation to find out.
The results were overall positive, said CEO Peter Daboll. “Agencies can use animation to extend some creative boundaries, but we also found that using animation can also make more challenging brands more appealing and their message more accepted than a spot that used traditional actors.”
Ace Metrix undertook the study after reading that long-form animated ads are on the rise despite the ongoing popularity of short-form video content. Because the firm tests every new ad airing in the US and tags them for categorizing, the data on responses to animated or partially animated spots was already available for them to study.
Their findings revealed that, when used appropriately, animation can be helpful to brands, particularly those that need to deliver dry content. Long-form education ads had some of the study’s strongest Top 2 Box purchase intent scores, meaning that consumers stated their interest in a product was “very likely” or “fairly likely” after viewing the ad. Hello Toothpaste’s “An Inconvenient Tooth” scored high among viewers, who weren’t bored by over a minute of an anthropomorphic tooth teaching them about chemicals. It also worked well for Taco Bell, whose “National Taco Day” narrative short spun up a whimsical origin story to promote the brand’s giveaway day.
Brands whose products require uncomfortable conversations can also benefit from animation, said Daboll. “The use of humor and animated characters can keep viewer interest and attention where they may not in a typical format,” although results are not always immediate.