Unruly / Blog / From Cause Marketing To Sound-Off Ads: Here Are The Top Content Trends Of 2015

From Cause Marketing To Sound-Off Ads: Here Are The Top Content Trends Of 2015

We have seen a lot of new content trends emerge during 2015. We’ve seen the decline of ‘trackverts’ – such a big hit in 2014 – and the emergence of sound-off videos. We’ve also seen less ‘fempowerment’ campaigns (the biggest content trend of 2014) as more and more brands embraced the theme of personal triumphs.

Ads which made us feel warm and fuzzy inside were more popular than ever, while cause marketing certainly had its moment in the sun, based on our top 20 most shared ads of the year chart, which we released last week. And the thing we saw the most this year? Well, puppies, of course!

In our first post in the Unruly’s 2015 Trends series, we take a look at the top content trends we’ve seen most frequently this year.


1. Dogvertising Stole Our Hearts

This year it was all about the friendship we feel for our four-legged friends. The top 3 most shared ads of the year (Android, Disney, and Purina) featured dogs in the central storyline, while animals featured in a lot of the commercials which made our top 20 ads of the year.

But beware. It’s a myth that the mere presence of animals in an online video will generate super-sharing. The dogverts that trended in 2015 used dogs as an emotional trigger in already strong ads that filled viewers with warmth and happiness. They were not shared just because they had a cute doggy in them.


2. ME-vertising Made a Splash

Average Joes have been topping the viral video charts since YouTube was first launched back in 2005. From Charlie’s memorable finger-biting to double rainbows and David’s ill-fated trip to the dentist, everyday people have been the undoubted stars of online video culture for almost a decade. Online video advertising soon picked up on this trend to great success, filming bystanders reacting to flashmobs, like in T-Mobile’s ground-breaking “Life’s For Sharing” campaign. They then became the stars of the show after being pranked by brands (and if you look at the most shared ads of 2015 you’ll see that strategy is still a hit!). The reason why they worked? Because they forced the viewer to put themselves in the shoes of the people being filmed, thereby intensifying their emotions while watching.

In its latest evolution, we saw ourselves as we laughed, cried and were amazed by “Regular-Joes” doing relatable acts, like in Disney’s Characters Surprise Shoppers. In some cases, like Reebok’s Reebok’s Be More Human, we saw ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Whatever the storyline, this trend is resonating because we can easily ourselves in these ads – from day-to-day experiences to the unexpected triumph of the underdog – and they evoke intense feelings of pride, inspiration, hilarity and nostalgia among viewers.


3. We Saw the Rise of the “Sound Off” Generation

According to Unruly’s Future Video Survey, 80.4% of consumers mute video ads. Smart marketers have taken note of this and are developing ads that can tell their story and engage viewers with or without sound.

Brands experimenting with “sound off” content range from luxury fashion brand Burberry, which uses the soundless format to showcase clothes, to Ben & Jerry’s, which uses close-ups of ice cream trapped in ice. Many are even experimenting with closed captions to draw in viewers. So expect to see a rise in these soundless pieces of content that can engage users with or without audio during 2016.


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Posted by Ben & Jerry’s on Wednesday, May 27, 2015


4. Emotions of Happiness and Warmth Dominated

Intense emotions are a key driver of video sharing, and we have saw ads eliciting similar emotional responses top the charts this year. Data from Unruly Custom Audiences showed that people were more drawn to ads triggering warmth, inspiration and happiness, as opposed to exhilaration and joy (the biggest emotions of 2014).

Brands are getting more savvy in leveraging the power of emotions. A study by Pringle & Field found ‘emotional campaigns outperform on almost every metric’ including profitability. Additionally, Unruly data also suggests around 70% of viewers who experienced an intense emotional response to an ad were very likely to buy the product.

Kleenex’s Unlikely Best Friends and Budweiser’s Super Bowl spot #BestBuds are two of the most shared ads of the year and excellent examples of ads using warmth, inspiration and happiness to connect with viewers.


5. Brands #SharedTheLove with Cause Marketing

Brands have had a lot of success using their online ads to promote good causes this year. Social good is one of the 9 main social motivations that gets people sharing ads online. One of the more rare social motivations, it is very potent when present. And it was certainly present in Unruly’s annual round-up of the Top 20 most shared ads of the year.

A video featuring Robert Downey Jr is part of Microsoft’s large-scale charity operation The Collective Project, was just one of many successful brand campaigns aimed at helping good causes. Other examples include a PSA from The Ad Council aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion – and an anti-domestic violence PSA from Italian newspaper Fanpage.it.

Some of the recent Christmas ads released in the UK such as Sainsbury’s (Save the Children) & John Lewis (Age UK) also used their spots to promote charities. This is a trend we’ve seen before – an oldie but a goodie!


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