81% of businesses use video as a marketing tool and 99% of those businesses say they’ll continue to do so. But with so many different types of videos available to marketers, where do you start? A good rule of thumb is to invest early on in a commercial video. If you’re unsure of what commercial videos are or what makes them great, you’re in luck. We’ve put together this quick guide, complete with 20 world-class examples, to inspire you as you produce a compelling animated commercial video.

What is a commercial video?

Companies invest in all kinds of videos; FAQ videos, explainer videos, and tutorials can all enhance a brand’s marketing efforts. But one of the most essential videos to have in your vault is a commercial video. Most simply, a commercial video is a video that promotes a service, product, brand, or company. Commercial videos are also usually promoted on television, social media, and other digital outlets with a paid media spend, and always have a commercial purpose like increasing sales or entering a new market. Companies invest in commercial videos to achieve all kinds of marketing goals, but the most common include:

Raising brand awareness: A commercial video is the perfect way to reach a new audience. Unlike other videos in your library that are created to add value to the lives of existing customers, commercial videos are promoted through paid channels and can reach new target markets to increase your brand awareness.

Increasing conversions: An animated commercial video is a great way to increase conversions on a digital marketing initiative. Whether your goal is to earn more subscribers, increase demo inquiries, acquire new leads, or drive more downloads, explaining your product’s benefits through a commercial video can communicate your value and give your audience the information they need to convert.

Increasing sales: 76% of businesses who use video say it’s helped them increase sales, and 81% of viewers have purchased a product or service after watching a brand’s video. This dynamic, hyper-engaging media is an ideal way to capture the attention of your target audience and convince them to make a purchase.

Launching a product: Animated commercial videos are ideal for introducing new products to market. With animation, you can explain formerly complicated concepts to clearly articulate what your product does and what value it brings – just like Spotify did during their U.S. launch with this animated commercial video.

20 awesome animated commercial videos

The possibilities are endless when it comes to animated commercial videos. With an endless combination of music, illustration styles, voiceovers, and more, you can evoke the exact emotion you want from your audience and drive them to take action. As you’re thinking about your next (or perhaps first) animated commercial video, take a look at the examples we’ve included below to inspire your brainstorm.

Project Sunroof (Google)

Google’s “Project Sunroof” video proves animated commercial videos are perfect for telling even the most complex stories. With this video, Google launched their new initiative to integrate solar power generation estimates with Google Maps to tell homeowners how much they could save if they switched from traditional electricity to solar power. The idea is undoubtedly complex, yet Google tells the story simply and concisely in less than two minutes. Clearly we aren’t the only viewers who found the video to be effective; this animated commercial earned more than 2 million views, and Project Sunroof is now live across the United States.

Follow Your Dreams (Seneca)

Seneca’s “Follow Your Dreams” video has a lot going for it: a fine-tuned script, seamless motion graphics, and a unique illustration style. But our favourite aspect of this animated commercial video is how clearly it relates to the college’s target audience and communicates its unique value proposition. This video very specifically addresses its viewers – people who have college credits and a high school diploma but no college degree – and their problem – not knowing what to do next. The solution: Seneca College. When scripting your commercial video, consider using this problem-solution approach to ensure your message resonates with your viewers.

Stories of Better (Toyota)

In preparation for the biennial Paris Motor Show, one of the largest automotive events in the world, Toyota told the story of their brand in “Stories for Better,” a beautiful video that leverages intricate paper models and visionary brand messaging to build value for the entire Toyota brand. Rather than promoting a single make or model, this video told the story of their entire suite of vehicles, each optimised to be the best in its category. They weave their brand promise – a commitment to excellence – into a promotional video that deviates from the traditional, salesy car commercial and focuses on value. Toyota went on to feature this video on a large LED screen at their Motor Show booth to showcase their suite of vehicles to the show’s 1,000,000+ attendees.

In Pursuit of Greatness (Wimbledon)

As much a history of video styles as it is a history of tennis, this Wimbledon commercial celebrates this globally revered sport and the pursuit of greatness that history’s tennis icons have undertaken. But what we love most about this commercial is what it doesn’t have. This voiceover-free commercial video is a risky move. After all, voiceover is a great way to gain the attention of your viewers, and if you don’t use it, you risk losing their interest. But this risk was worth the reward. The powerful music-only backdrop created a goosebumps-worth energy that has us watching this video on repeat.

Mindfulness (Apple)

With so much conversation about the unhealthy nature of too much screen time, Apple needed to do a little proactive PR to uphold its brand value. When the company added mindfulness features to their Health app, they also launched this video – a simple, short story that promotes the power of adding a few moments of stillness to your daily life. Not only did this commercial promote their new app feature, but it further solidified Apple’s position as leaders in all things lifestyle.

Freebies (Harvey Nichols)

Harvey Nichols took a comedic approach to launching their rewards program. This video uses goofy superimposed caricatures to hide the identities of people shoplifting in their stores. Leveraging actual footage from their security feed, this video undoubtedly has a low production cost with a high return on investment. Cute, quirky, and endlessly creative, this video demonstrates that a great commercial doesn’t have to be complicated.

Be Together. Not The Same (Android)

A phone commercial without a single phone in sight? If you think it’s risky, you’d be right. But in this case, the risk was well worth the reward. Android used this commercial to join social conversation about bullying and build brand affinity. Their video inspires courage, compassion and connection, and builds value for this global brand along the way.

Say Hello (Headspace)

Headspace proves that sometimes the best animated videos are also the simplest. Their straightforward commercial video explains how their app works and the value it adds to their consumers, and ends with a clear call to action to download the app. We’re especially impressed by their thoughtful sound design, which adds little moments of delight during the viewer experience. With more than 11 million views and currently a #5 spot in the Health and Fitness category in the Apple store, Headspace is clearly doing something right.

Imagine What You Could Do (American Express)

Who knew credit card commercial videos could be so fun? This video by American Express dispels the myth that every career opportunity at the credit card company is focused on financial services, telling the story of their less traditional, more innovative positions to strum up employment interest. This video proves that commercial videos aren’t only for increasing sales or launching products; they can help support any type of business initiative, like recruitment and other internal endeavours. This video is part of a bigger series that includes features on careers in technology, big data, and social media. All in all, the series earned more than 37,000 views on YouTube – not too shabby for a recruitment campaign.

The Bear and the Hare (John Lewis)

A department store has never been as heartwarming as John Lewis was during the 2013 holiday season. The retailer’s animated short, “The Bear and the Hare,” tells an uplifting story about gift giving, effortlessly promoting their brand at the end of the spot. The original video, which leveraged the popularity of its featured artist Lily Allen, earned well over 16 million views on John Lewis’ official YouTube account; even more impressive is that the custom track recorded for the spot earned more than 33 million listens on YouTube alone – a big win for a company that invested in hiring a world famous artist for a single commercial video.

Anti Harassment PSA (Time’s Up)

Time’s Up’s PSA adds some levity to a heavy subject: workplace harassment. This 3-minute video answers some common questions about what constitutes inappropriate behaviour at work and what doesn’t. Narrated by Donald Glover and Rashida Jones, Time’s Up’s video takes a sensitive subject and makes it simple for anyone and everyone. A great use of video for a great cause – we give this video two thumbs up.

The Boy Who Learned to Fly (Gatorade)

Animated commercial videos don’t have to be 2-minutes or less; Gatorade proves that in their 7-minute animated short, “The Boy Who Learned to Fly.” The video tells the story of world-famous runner Usain Bolt, and shows that commercial videos don’t have to revolve around your product in order to promote your brand. In fact, Gatorade isn’t even mentioned in this video until the logo flashes on screen at the end – but the video earned more than 15 million views. It’s a risky move, but one that proved to be well worth it for this sports drink brand.

Gold (American Express)

American Express earns another spot on our list for an animated commercial video promoting the benefits of their Amex Gold card. This video, which American Express promoted on social media, features an uplifting track, 70s-style color palette, and playful illustration style to creatively tell the story of their premium credit card’s benefits. Our favourite aspect of this video is how each scene gracefully transitions into the next, showing the true power of animation to do something that would be impossible with live video. All in all, this video is the gold standard for animated commercial videos.

Wonderfilled (Oreo)

Capitalising on the popularity of an emerging electronic artist, Oreo commissioned Owl City to write and record a custom track for their “Wonderfilled” television commercial. The brand accompanied the light and uplifting song with equally playful animation to craft a video as delightful as this world-famous cookie. Whimsical, wonderful, and wonderfilled, this commercial no doubt deserves a spot on our list.

Way Better (Clover)

Take a trip to an imaginary land with Clover’s “Way Better” commercial, a Willy Wonka-esque video that tells the story of their creamy, dreamy spread. This super creative approach to promoting a common grocery item proves that commercial videos are without limits. The approach certainly worked for Clover, who won the award for best animated television commercial at the INFOCOM EME Awards and the first place award for television and visual effects in the Mobius Awards.

Join Skirmish (Skirmish.io)

Skirmish is a platform that matches game developers other professionals in the gaming space with employers. Their commercial video is a great example of how important it is that all your video’s elements work cohesively. Take notice of how the sci-fi animation style, cinematic music, and deep voice over work together to create an intentional energy. As you think about your commercial video, consider what type of energy you want to create, and select elements that collectively support that vibe.

Turning Point (Don’t Fail Idaho)

Commercial videos aren’t just for for-profit businesses; they’re a great tool for nonprofit organisations too. This video by Don’t Fail Idaho is a great example of how community and nonprofit institutions can use video to reach their strategic goals. Their commercial draws in viewers and presents the problem using compelling statistics we can’t ignore, coupling them with beautiful graphics to keep viewers engaged throughout the entire video. If you’re a nonprofit working on a fundraising or awareness campaign, consider producing an animated commercial video like Don’t Fail Idaho’s; it might be just what you need to reach your goals.

NoseFrida (Fridababy)

Fridababy shows how product launch videos are done with their “NoseFrida” commercial video. This seamless narrative starts by introducing a common problem, and walks viewers through the solution, effortlessly overcoming several predictable concerns viewers might have with the product. It’s storytelling at its finest, and in less than two minutes.

Grr (Honda)

This video is not only one of our favourite Honda commercials, but it’s one of our favourite automotive commercials of all time. Why? Because Honda makes diesel engines fun. That’s right. This 90-second commercial video, made for television and cinema, features a custom song, bright and fun animation, and an overall unprecedented optimistic vibe not often seen in the automotive industry. And we’re not the only ones who think so. The “Grr” video went on to win the Film Grand Prix, one of the most prestigious honours in the advertising industry, and was selected by Adweek as the best commercial of the decade.

A Big Idea (Smart Fortwo)

When Smart Fortwo launched their two-seater miniature car, they needed a commercial video that would set them apart from the competition and communicate the unique values of their brand. Their “A Big Idea” multi-video campaign did just that. Each video in this three-part series communicates a distinct value or attribute about the product, and leverages a memorable visual style that blends simple illustration layered on top of real-world footage. We also love how each video targets a different demographic – a couple in love, an expressive individual, a curious car shopper – with a unique message but the same underlying tone, proving a single concept can be adapted for a broad target audience.

Wrapping up

As you set out to make an animated commercial video as awesome as the inspiration we included above, be sure to consider the things that made these examples stand out above the rest:

  • Create a unified, purposeful tone: Video’s primary benefit over nearly all other forms of media is its ability to create an emotional connection with a viewer. Be intentional about selecting your voice over, animation style, and background music to evoke the right emotion from your audience.
  • Tell a compelling story: Video is all about storytelling. Remember not to focus too much on pushing product, and instead tell the story of your brand. That approach will always resonate with your viewers much more than an overly salesly message.
  • Learn more about animated videos: The possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to animated commercials. Don’t go it alone. Before you kick off your commercial video project, learn more about how to create great animated videos today.