Burger King has put together some pre-roll ads that have gotten quite the bit of attention in some parts of the industry for the past few days. In it, the actors admit to being in an ad and then deride advertisements and the special deal they are promoting. Not exactly original, but what is, is the fact Burger King had 64 of them made, well, sort of. Yes, 64 pre-roll ads on YouTube videos were made for the Burger King campaign so that each could be tailored to a specific piece of content that it was going to be placed against. I knew that complementary placement was getting big, after we moved away from aversion placements (going from "don't show our ad next to that content," to "put our ad against this content.")
In each video they mention the specific piece of content as well demonstrating how the pre-rolls were designed for each one. Are they funny? Hardly. Original? Somewhat (see Old Spice and its personally customized Twitter response videos).
You Watch Pre-roll Bro?
First off, who isn't skipping YouTube pre-rolls whenever possible? One report has up to 85% of them being skipped. Personally, I'm hovering over that Skip Ad button just waiting for it to flip so I can get on with my viewing. In fact, it draws so much attention from me that I don't see a single bit of any ad. If a video doesn't allow me to skip the ad, as in that little "you can skip this ad in X seconds" overlay doesn't show up right away, I leave and try to find another source for the video. Yes, I realize this may end up taking me more time. However, if I can't find it instantly, I just move on with my day because it's not going to be a case of life or death. There are only two situations where I will sit through the ad A) I need to watch a video for work and B) I absolutely cannot find the video anywhere and must watch the video for work. As you can imagine, that second one doesn't come up all that often.
Now, I've got to go purposely watch some ads for work, how's that for ignominious defeat? Well, so be it. Actually, I do watch quite a few ads for work since I'm the guru of video advertising 'round these parts. The Burger King ones escaped me as I must not have been watching the right content which they're placed against. Most of the videos had over a million views and were things like Anchorman 2 trailers, Jimmy Fallon clips, a Kings of Leon video, etc. During each ad the actors mention either the video itself or the type of video "a music video" as in the case of Kings of Leon in the context of complaining about pre-roll ads preempting desired content. At the end of the ads a meal deal graphic pops up which attention is drawn to as the actors attempt to shoo it away.
Here's a look at it all on the Stop Press YouTube Channel (New Zealand Ad industry overview).
Has it been effective? I guess we will have to wait for the case study and find out. In my mind, it's akin to a stupid marketing gimmick. There have been some better meta ads done, like the Alec Baldwin commercials for Capital One. Especially the one on Hulu where he pushes the video player play button. Hey look, brand recall! See, it does work.
The Newest YouTube Ad Trend?
These sort of things generally take on a life of their own and begin to grow and mutate and expand. Will this particular way of advertising do that? Could it be the next big YouTube pre-roll ad making trend? Granted, the case study may be commissioned by Burger King or Colenso BBDO, which means that it certainly isn't going to say "nope, total failure." But it could spawn a new vein of similar pre-roll ads, which take it further, get quirkier or go deeper into the meta. I guess you'll all have to keep watching those pre-rolls and let me know.
Now, where's that ad skip button?