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Commercials and product videos have been around for a long, long time. People have been introducing, selling, receiving endorsements and participating in sponsored partnerships since there was the opportunity in radio or tv. We can all chuckle at the Christmas Story scene when Ralphie uses his decoder to uncover the message “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine” because we have all been tricked by advertising. While the products and the approach has changed through the years, the desire to sell products has not.

This commercial from the 50s demonstrates how primitive and awkward it was once to have a commercial integrated into the shows people loved.

50s Product Video: Flintstones / Winston

While many times, you’ll still see product placement or endorsements, there is effort in making it a bit more nonchalant. Although subtlety is not always achieved, even these days.

Designated Survivor Ford Product Placement Video

In the 70s, the idea of a story or a feeling became more common in promo videos but in a very catchy way. Who can forget the Doublemint Twins? Through the years, Herbal Essence has been a champion of commercials and selling their product with excitement, emotion, a sensation. They were early to the game of selling the idea and not the actual product.

70s Product Video: Herbal Essence

As time went on, we became more interested in the features and specifications of things. It was very common, especially as new technology rolled out, to do sexy shots of the product and then utilize other things to make their statement.

1999 Product Video: Nokia

As we’ve traveled through time, watching the evolution of product videos, one has to ask, what is left? What do we do differently now?

Some might say there are no rules, others will say there are strict rules. It has been our experience that people do in fact love the sexy product shots. But the shots can’t be so glamorous that it misrepresents the product. You can make something look TOO good! People also love a story and want to relate to the product. It is because of this that you see stories being told in 30-60 seconds and only find out at the end what product they are selling. Truly, who doesn’t tear up at the pet food commercials of dogs seeing their soldier return home? Or this car commercial promoting a special family trip that carries you with them on their journey?

2017 Product Video: Volkswagon

After all this history in product videos, how can we create effective and meaningful content in such a media-saturated world?

Taking the best features of all these advertising trends and forging a path for each project is truly the answer. When you have a big brand, you can focus more on emotion and story to deliver the message as well as brand recognition. When you are introducing a product or company, using a more straight-forward approach that entices and excites people is a better way to go. Also considering the viewing platform for your product video should impact your project. Always make sure you are working to deliver one message to one demographic. If things get too complicated, the effectiveness of the product video will suffer.

We’ve been helping companies create product videos for 15 years and we’ve see lots of things work and we’ve learned from things that didn’t… just ask us.