Why weird works in youtube and social media Advertising


BY Haydon Macleod


22 September 2020

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Let’s see if you can guess what type of advert I’m describing:

We’re panning across multiple beautiful but desolate landscapes from an overhead view. There is no sound, no life, just total serenity and silence. The scene begins to abruptly switch between different locations; desert, country and rocky mountains, over and over and over again. Each scene is remarkably different apart from one thing; the unusually placed and eerily empty never-ending strip of bitumen road.

Do we see a reflective shimmer zooming across the road? Do we hear low-humming “vrooooooom” in the distance? Probably not. At this point, you’ve most likely realised this is another generic car ad and have either pressed skip on your device or completely zoned out.

Sure, video advertising is great, but it takes a little more effort these days to leave an impact on your viewer!

We’re *disinterested* in the expected

Our attention spans today are super short! If something doesn’t engage us instantly then we’re probably not giving it any further attention. I don’t watch ads, I watch the 5-second skip button count down in the corner of the screen. I think our subconscious knows what generic advertisements look like, and it knows how to ignore them.

5 seconds is a long time

If you had one minute to live, what would you do? I would either watch a youtube ad or do a plank, both of these activities seem to make time completely slow down. 5 seconds is actually quite a long time for an advert to have your complete attention, so why do companies suck so much at actually keep us engaged?

Because they’re fucking *boring*

It’s actually super frustrating to be fed the same generic ads over and over again. Companies are buying 5 seconds of our undivided attention and doing the absolute bare minimum to keep us engaged before that skip button appears.

“Don’t skip this ad”

This doesn’t work! I don’t know about you, but a celebrity begging me not to hit the skip button makes me really want to hit the skip button. It breaks the fourth wall, but in the laziest way possible. This stems from the classic advertising formula; Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

Ethos: Credibility and trust. Basically boils down to throwing a liked celebrity into your brandings and ads.

Pathos: Appeals to your emotions and tugs at your heartstrings. Cute dogs running around with toilet paper is a notable example.

Logos: Showing data to back up your product. “9 out of 10 dentists prefer this toothpaste” type of stuff.

What makes an *impactful* advert?

The unexpected, the funny, the interesting and the relatable. Ads that take an unexpected turn or act as a satire of the conventional are usually much more engaging and memorable. This isn’t just limited to video adverts though, check out ‘Facebook ads that shine‘ for a look at some engaging ads that use imagery and text to grab your attention.

So, without further ado…

Here are, in my opinion, the most engaging and memorable ads of recent memory.


I don’t care how many times this ad pop up on Youtube, I’m never skipping it.

Dollar Shave Club

Honest, relatable and funny!

Apple at Work

Long for an ad, but somehow kept me engaged the entire time. I wanted to know how this story played out, even though I wasn’t sure what product or company was even being advertised until the very end.

Dr. Squatch’s Natural Soap for Men

A great example of how an ad can capture your interest within the first 5 seconds.

Ship My Pants

Bizarre and funny, I watched the whole thing just to see how many times they would say it…

*Honourable Mention*
Mr. Plow from the simpsons

While not a real advert, it’s still much better than some of the stuff I see on Youtube and Instagram today.

ads, ads and more ads!

Have a read of ‘Have adverts lost their sparkle?‘ to see some fun vintage print ads, or check out ‘If you grew up in 1990s Australia, these ads should take you back…‘ to watch some classic Aussie throwbacks.

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Haydon Macleod

Haydon is a member of our design team, and has already shown comprehension and collaboration skills beyond his years. Top it all off with a wicked (if not sometimes weird) sense of humour - the perfect fit for our team!