Advertainer or Sell-Out


Yer watching videos online.

After sitting through a pre-roll ad, or racing to click out of one, the last thing you want is to sit through a video that is essentially another ad… unless yer one of those people that just love commercials.

Advertainment, while partially promoting a product, is also meant to entertain. In a time when we’re constantly bombarded by marketing campaigns, we’ve evolved to the point of tuning out what we perceive to be blanket marketing ploys. The goal of advertainment is to “trick” us into paying attention, when normally we’d zone out.

But advertainment comes in a lot of forms. The two main categories being “hard-sell” and “soft-sell”.

“Hard-sell” makes it perfectly clear that a product is being promoted, it doesn’t hide that fact, but still aims to entertain. Old Spice, Playstation, Doritos, and plenty of other brands have launched a number of successful “hard-sell” advertainment campaigns.

“Soft-sell”, on the other hand, aims to entertain while only subtly implying a product. In fact, in some cases, the product is so understated, you’d have to do some research just to find out what it was actually promoting in the first place. “Soft-sell” advertainment clearly focuses on entertaining more than selling you a product. The theory being: if we can generate positive interest in something, we don’t have to push the product… they’ll come to us.

For the most part, I’m a fan of all advertainment – done right. Plenty of campaigns fail because they attempt to emulate what they think people want to see (popular fads, memes, mimicking other successful campaigns, etc). Ultimately, their “try-hard”-iness can be spotted a mile away, and the ad instantly (in our minds) goes from advertainment, to a generic ad, at which point, we just tune out. We realize it’s not about entertainment, it’s about fooling you into thinking it’s entertainment, solely to get you to buy a product.

Recently, I came out with an animation based around the characters of SMG’s latest game, OTTTD. While some of the comments complained the video was “just an ad”, more of the comments were asking what it even was: was this a series? Who are these characters? What does OTTTD stand for? Is this based on a game?

Based on the response, I’d like to believe the video did it’s job. If folks are asking for a series or quoting lines from the animation, I can only assume that it succeeded as a work of entertainment (for a number of viewers). At the same time, some viewers were aware that the video was in fact a promotion for a game, so it wasn’t too understated.

As far as commissioned commercial projects go, this is where I feel most comfortable. Having creative control (or most of it), entertaining people, and getting to share a product in a way that’s genuinely meant to be an enjoyable minute or two of your time.

Even if viewers have no intention of buying the product that’s being promoted, they still get a chuckle or laugh, and at the very least, the product now leaves a positive taste in your mouth, even if you don’t plan on swallowing. You can spit, it’s okay. I’m just grateful you were willing to put it in your mouth.

Mmmmm, nummy.

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2 Responses

  1. Brandon says:

    Very concise a neat perspective from being on the creator side and consumer, Mick. Always enjoy these topics and the way you’d discuss them on SleepyCast and such. Hope to see you post more on here 🙂

    • Ricepirate says:

      There will for sure. though I think in the future I’ll have the written accompanied by video. glad you dug it yo

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