Regardless of which side of the aisle you sat on, 2017 was pretty incredible. This year found itself embroiled in some of the most polarizing cultural, political and technological developments the world has ever seen. In a society increasingly connected in a web of social media outlets and platforms, we were collective witnesses to moments that defined humanity, and moments that divided it. Ad agencies, news outlets and production companies naturally responded to the ebb and flow of the cultural mainstream and its socio-political undercurrents by producing increasingly relevant, provocative and entertaining content.
As director of media production at CenterTable, I am always on the lookout for the latest and greatest in media and advertising. This year I compiled a list of 5 social videos produced in 2017 that stood out to me in technical prowess, innovation and boldness. This list includes everything from social media ads to TV commercials. Let’s dive right in (in no particular order).
Google Photos – Best Picture
Award show ads generally tend to be pretty on the nose with how they tie in their product or service to whatever the main attraction is. However, every so often a company comes along that subverts expectations and uses their unique time slot to their advantage. When Google released an advertisement promoting Google Photos, their free cloud storage for backing up mobile photos and video, it ran during the 89th Academy Awards. By using user-generated content for their video, Google expertly crafted a narrative that was both unique and relatable. Equating the little moments in our lives to the emotional, humorous and at times terrifying story beats found in traditional cinema, Google provided viewers a respite from being invested in the stories told by others, and reminded them to appreciate their own. Watch Google’s video.
Blind Photographer and Volkswagen
Creating industry-adjacent content is a delicate balancing act between building brand equity and not coming off too heavy handed. Volkswagen struck a perfect balance in their Arteon ad when they asked a blind photographer to photograph their newest car. In the ad, Pete Eckert narrates his story as he takes the audience through his creative process to construct a car he can only see through sheer imagination. Volkswagen expertly deconstructs a traditional car commercial by focusing on the subtleties and nuances that elevate car design to an art form. Watch Volkswagen’s video.
Worlds Apart – Heineken
Feminism, climate change and trans rights are just a few of the more divisive issues that sparked controversy in 2017. Heineken boldly tackled these topics head-on in a viral ad promoting the unifying power of conversation over a good beer. The ad takes the tried and true “honest-to-God-these-are-real-people-not-actors” formula a step further by asking three pairs of outspoken individuals from opposite ends of the political spectrum to participate in a social experiment encouraging cooperation and communication. By the end, there is a feel-good message of tolerance and inclusivity that speaks to a new generation of social activists with a graceful tactfulness that other beverage companies might have missed. Watch Heineken’s video.
This Is a Generic Millenial Ad – Dissolve
What better way to promote your stock footage services than by making a video ad built entirely from your own stock video library. Bonus points if you make it as relevant and “woke” as humanly possible. Dissolve succeeded in making the most politically-correct, environmentally- conscience, socially-responsible video ad with some very snarky winks at the trendy millennial-speak, minimalist typography and YOLO lifestyle that certain brands and agencies desperately try to understand and emulate. Congrats, Dissolve. You won yourself the Internet with a side of avocado toast. View Dissolve’s video.
A Love Song – The Climate Coalition
Every year, the UK-based Climate Coalition releases a video that serves as a love letter to our planet and the important part we play in its preservation. This year’s was no exception, featuring some outstanding British talent and gorgeous visuals, set to a nostalgic poem delivering a message of hope and promise. Coupled with an unrestrained collage of sentimental stock footage and a soaring soundtrack, the Climate Coalition invites audiences to dwell on memories of simpler times: When the hardships and struggles of life seem to melt away at the sight of a breathtaking view. When the societal noise we share disappears along the path of a leave-ridden forest in autumn. When the question of The Great Beyond seems less terrifying when looking up into the expanse of a night sky full of stars. This is a Call to Action at its most honest, heartfelt and sublime. View Climate Coalition’s video.
Accessibility and intuitiveness have become dominating attribute of video and media production. 2017 especially saw an increasingly industry-savvy audience holding its leaders and media providers to even higher standards, resulting in some truly inspiring pieces of creative work. This heightened demand for quality content is shaping the media landscape, and I for one cannot wait to see what that looks like in 2018.