Animation is a multibillion-dollar, global industry that has a place in more major industries that you think. While most people associate animation with entertainment (i.e. television, film, gaming), it is viewed as a powerful communication tool in advertising, business, education, interior design, architecture, medicine, engineering, and technology. In fact, besides the film and video industry, the industries with the highest levels of employment for animators are computer systems design; software publishing; advertising, public relations, and related services; and other information services—in that order.
This means that advertising has the fourth highest level of employment for animators and demand in the industry is expected to grow. According to UK’s Three Motion Media, between 2012 and 2013, the industry saw a 40% increase in businesses using animation. The reason for this, says TMM, is “forward thinking organizations have been marketing digital content for many years. However, this recent rise in animation production (and sharing) is being driven by those seeking to capitalize on the medium’s expressive nature, its ability to communicate a brand’s spirit, and most importantly, deliver content in a format that can surpass perception or reality.”
Further, creating animated characters, landscapes, and scenes is a lot less expensive than creating a live production. The cost for the celebrity talent alone for a live production could account for a large percentage of the projects budget. Voice actors are much less expensive and the costs could be even lower if characters are created online.
Animation in advertising is nothing new though. Cartoon ads date back to as early as 1920 and bringing the characters to life wasn’t too far behind. The “Botany Lamb” series of commercials (1941) are often cited as the first animated television commercials and in 1947, the “Reddy Kilowatt” character, created in 1926, was brought to life by means of cel animation by cartoonist Walter Lantz. And who could forget Tony the Tiger (1952), Trix Rabbit (1957), Jolly Green Giant (1958), Mr. Clean (1958), Charlie the Tuna (1961), Cap'n Crunch (1963), the Pillsbury Doughboy (1965), The Keebler Elves (1968), and Hamburger Helper Helping Hand (1971)? And today we have the computer animated M&M characters, the Aflac Duck, the Geico Gecko, Chester Cheetah, and many other unforgettable characters.
Yesterday’s animated characters are tough to forget because they are still around today promoting these enduring brands to a new generation of consumers. You simply cannot think about tuna without seeing images of Charlie dancing around in your head. And today’s animated ad characters are even tougher to forget. Besides TV, print, and don’t forget radio, these characters have made their way onto our computer screens, laptops, cell phones, iPads, tablets, and even video game consoles. So, you can certainly see the importance of animation in advertising on all fronts, but let’s zero in on digital content—just for a sec.
Animation has become the highlight of digital marketing campaigns because not only does it make promotional online videos more entertaining (studies show that funny content was the most shared content in social media), it communicates the message more effectively. For example, according to Softway Solutions, it would be “impossible to show the internal working of a product or a process as the real time video may not be able to film/show the internal process.” Animated videos “will have a better recall value as they present information in a visually attractive manner.”
Further, says Softway, with animations you can create videos, which are not realistic, but can depict your imagination. These videos allow you to show some new inventions from the company, and also create curiosity among the customers about the product. These “explanatory videos, which contain animations related to product specification and features will make customers excited about the product.” They will eagerly wait for the launch of the company’s next new product and “help create a buzz in the industry.”
So the next time you’re wondering about how important animation is in advertising, just try thinking about auto insurance without thinking about the Geico Gecko or green beans without the Jolly Green Giant. The impact of good animated characters in advertising is so tremendous, that, without much effort, their images will continue to sell products to consumers for decades to come.
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