Everyone hates YouTube’s preroll ads. You want to watch an old Beatles clip but it’s held hostage by a preroll ad for Toyota, of which you are forced to watch five seconds. It’s possibly the longest five seconds in all of advertising, at least to the viewer. And that’s because advertisers typically run normal TV spots, none of which are designed for the preroll “medium.”
GEICO changed all that with their new appropriately named “Unskippable” campaign. You ready for some high comedy? Watch this, and remember your mindset: you want to watch a Beatles clip on YouTube but this ad comes up:
Made for the medium.
The power of this idea lies in the fact the creative is made for the medium. You couldn’t run that ad on TV. It wouldn’t make sense. Conversely, a normal TV spot doesn’t have the kick that this idea does in the preroll medium. Add to that deliciously self-aware voiceover, “You can’t skip this GEICO ad because it’s already over.”
Or is it…
I bet the brief for this was something like:
CHALLENGE: see if you can communicate the GEICO message in five seconds AND get people to watch longer than that.
Can you imagine a more motivating challenge than that for a creative team? Creatives love to solve problems. That’s who they are. As such, this idea for GEICO not only makes the five dreaded seconds worthwhile (despite “Hey Jude” waiting in the digital wings), but makes it very, very difficult to stop watching until the very end.
They become a voyeuristic curiosity.
Once the announcer proclaims the ad over, the real idea begins. We are left with actors suspended in a live freeze-frame as something out of control happens around them. In the case above, a dog jumps on the table and eats the food as dad and mom and kids somehow maintain their oh-so-happy, advertising smiles.
We don’t watch the dog, the only thing moving with any purpose. We watch the actors hoping to catch a grin, a blink, a look sideways. And if you look close, you’ll find a few and those discoveries are oddly satisfying (at least to me).
It’s the same magnetic compulsivity of watching a train wreck without the train or the wreck. Just actors not budging as a St. Bernard hops the table and devours everyone’s dinner.