4 Brands Killing It with Digital Video

For all of the changes the Internet has brought to advertising these past two decades, the industry’s future looks a lot like its recent past in one crucial way: there’s going to be lots and lots of video.

Just as the latter half of the 20th century was dominated by TV advertising, brands will continue to employ video’s powerful combination of sight, sound, and motion in the new millennium. But rather than doing so during the 11 o’clock news, advertisers will instead follow consumers to the computers, smartphones, and tablets they’re increasingly spending their time with.

Indeed, U.S. advertisers will spend $7.8 billion on online video advertising this year, up more than 30% from the $6 billion they spent in 2014. And by 2018, eMarketer predicts this number will jump to nearly $13 billion.

In order to keep up with where the industry is going, you’ll need to start developing a plan for creating high-quality video content and distributing it to your target audience across the different platforms and devices they’re using.

As a bit of inspiration, here are four brands that are straight-up killing it with online video:


No brand better exemplifies advertising’s pivot from TV to digital ads than Newcastle. In each of the past two years, the beer brand has run an awesome digital video campaign skewering the exorbitant costs and excessive hype surrounding Super Bowl advertising.

In the weeks leading up to 2014’s big game, Newcastle released fake teaser videos, mock focus groups, and completely over-the-top story boards—all promoting the cinematic Super Bowl ad the brand would have made…if it had enough money to pay for it.

The campaign generated a billion earned media impressions and Adweek said it was the best ad of 2014. As Tim Nudd, the magazine’s online ad critic wrote, “The deadpan copy is spot-on, and as ambush marketing goes, the whole campaign is hilariously done as it takes down the overblown process of Super Bowl ad rollouts.”


Due to social media, online advertisers can get tons of free impressions by creating videos that stir people’s emotions and express a sentiment viewers are likely to share with their friends on Facebook.

One advertiser taking full advantage of this dynamic is Dove, which has made a name for itself with a string of highly shareable videos that encourage women to think of themselves as beautiful.

Though the soap brand has been criticized by some for unfairly portraying women as lacking confidence in their appearance (this parody video cracks me up every time), it’s 2013 Real Beauty Sketches video is one of the most-watched pieces of branded content ever. Subsequent videos have also earned millions of YouTube views.

In each much-anticipated release, we see an example of how brands can build a loyal base of social media fans who look forward to sharing the latest video with their friends.

Thai Life Insurance

Meanwhile, in Southeast Asia, “sadvertising” is all the rage.

In this extraordinary short film from Thai Life Insurance, a young man is rewarded for his acts of kindness in the most heartwarming manner possible. After watching the ad, I can only presume that a significant portion of its 26 million YouTube viewers were reduced to tears.

In a column for Marketing Land, Steve Hall wrote, “Yes, life insurance is about money but this work makes you think about the importance of life and that the things you do in your life, however small, do matter.”


Of course, making great content is only half the battle. With users split across a multitude of websites, apps, and social networks, you need to have a smart strategy for putting your video in front of the people most likely to respond to it.

Before releasing its stellar World Cup-themed animated film, “The Last Game,” Nike posted teaser videos on its social media accounts and asked the influential soccer players it sponsors to share them with their followers.

When it was time to release the video, the brand promoted it with a full-page takeover of ESPN.com and extended the campaign by producing additional pieces of snackable content using the hashtag #riskeverything. For its efforts, the brand won a Cannes Lion award in the Media category.

Video generally takes more resources to create than other forms of content, but as these examples show, the reward is often worth the effort.

If you can follow in the footsteps of the Newcastles and the Doves of the world, you have a chance to create a real emotional connection with your customers and build new audiences when those customers share their excitement with their friends.

So, what are you waiting for? Now that you have the inspiration, all you need is some hard work and a little bit of luck. If all goes according to plan, the next great viral video might just be yours

About the Author

Aaron Taube

Aaron Taube is a freelance writer and reporter based in New York City. Prior to striking out on his own, he worked as a staff writer at Business Insider, where he covered the digital advertising industry and workplace issues; he was also a researcher/reporter hybrid at Law360, a news service for corporate attorneys.

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