If “animation” came up in a word association game, most people would respond along the lines of “Finding Nemo” or “Doc McStuffins.” However, animation in the advertising realm can mean so much more than Marlin and Dory entertaining your four-year-old for two hours.
Animated characters have traditionally been portrayed as sweet and harmless, but that doesn’t mean they can’t appeal to consumers of all ages.
Take Davis Advertising’s client Linder’s, Inc. as an example. Linder’s is the parent company of Sam’s Pull-A-Part and Henry’s Auto Parts. They at Linder’s wanted to give their businesses more recognizable faces without having to use a live person, while also building on the appeal of the cartoon character that already existed on the Linder’s building’s awning.
With that in mind, Davis created a pair of characters known as “Sam” and “Henry.” While certainly playful, the Sam and Henry designs include tools and auto parts in order to target an older audience. They also add a nostalgic and youthful feel to the topic of picking and pulling auto parts, something primarily adults would do.
In many cases, using animated advertisements can save time and money, but that was not necessarily true for Davis when we created the “YOUniquely Ever After” campaign for Charles River Bank.
Nicole Tadgell, an award-winning children’s book illustrator and Davis Advertising’s Assistant Art Director, sketched and painted the scenes for the entire television spot that was based on a Cinderella story, where the character—and her business—goes from rags to riches with the help of Charles River Bank. Our Motion Graphics Designer Imer Diaz then brought the pictures to life for use on TV.
Davis Account Executive Barbie Bell said the “YOUniquely Ever After” spot was distinctive for a number of reasons.
“It is a beautiful piece that most agencies can’t do in-house,” Bell explained. “Usually that type of work is sent out, so it is fantastic that we are able to do that here.”
Bell also said that it was rare for a financial institution to go with an outside-the-box concept; they usually operate more conservatively due to regulatory restrictions within the industry, but CRB had no reservations about the animated fairy-tale idea. In fact, there are a lot of positive aspects to running an animated ad.
First of all, there are no limitations based on what a computer can and cannot do. If CRB wanted Tadgell to draw a six-armed sea monster at an ATM, she could do that. Also, like the Linder’s characters, the CRB animation created a character—in this case, a princess—that could be associated with the bank going forward. Finally, characters featured in animation are timeless. You don’t have to worry about your celebrity spokesperson out-aging your audience.
In many cases, animation and animated characters help reduce the time and costs of advertising due to not having to book actors and work around their schedules. That being said, the CRB ad did have its challenges.
“It takes a lot of time and a lot of work, so it becomes more expensive,” Bell said. “The challenge is more difficult because it is solid piece of art by Nicole that is then made to move by all the tricks that Imer has. That is not something a videographer can do.”
Bell said the tangibility of the art pieces was the main challenge Davis faced with the campaign; once an illustration is completely “finished,” making edits is more difficult than with traditional video. Nevertheless, the agency worked feverishly to ensure the best possible final product.
“The client is paying a lot of money for this, so we want to make sure that Davis provides the client with something they can be thrilled with and proud of,” she said. “Everything we do is very custom for our clients.”
Furthermore, Bell said the whole agency enjoyed pitching in with the unique “YOUniquely Ever After” campaign.
“We had fun with it,” she said. “It was a great accomplishment for us to provide something so out-of-the-box and get great feedback from the client. We are very proud of that work.”
As it turned out, those at Davis Advertising had good reason to feel gratified with the spot. It picked up a silver medal at the 2013 New England Financial Marketing Awards in the Brand category for banks with holdings of $500 million or less.
The moral of the story is that animation in advertisements doesn’t have to be childish. A good ad agency will use animation to appeal to the brand’s target audience, no matter how young or old.