Are Ads as Content the Future of Advertising?

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In a world where competition for attention is growing faster than ever and consumers get to skip the ads if they want, will advertisements as content save the day for advertisers? It’s not clear yet, but there is a growing body of evidence that it can and is being done by advertisers, both big and small.

The Wall Street Journal provided five case studies today of advertising as content, and all done by small companies.

1. Blendtec’s Will It Blend

Blendtec is in the blender business. One day the marketing guy sees the enginneering guy test blenders with chunks of wood. The net result is one of the most successful Ads as Content campaigns, Will It Blend.

The video series is so popular they are now selling it as a DVD for $9.93.

Will It BlendStraight from the success of, Will It Blend has been known as an internet marketing sensation, viewed by more than 30 million people. Now for the first time ever, you can take home the glory, passion and power of Blendtec CEO Tom Dickson with his blending antics on the first 50 Will It Blend videos, including Will It Blend facts and behind the scenes footage.

Not only has it been successful as content they say sales of blenders have shot up 500%.

Here’s the video of one of my favorites Will It Blend: the iPhone edition.

2. MJ Safety Solutions Bullet Resistant Backpack

MJ Safety Solutions MyChildsPack is a bullet resistant back pack. The video is serious with lots of explosions and guns firing. YouTube reports that the video has been viewed just under 25,000 times at the time I write this. The company reports that it has sold over 1,000 of these backpacks at $175 each.

3. All Natural Maine Root’s Free Range Root Beer

In this video campaign, All Natural Main Root is marketing the fight against corporate root beer and of course their alternative: Free Range Root Beer. Sales have gone up from $500,000 to $3,000,000 year over year. Maine Root paid $20,000 for the campaign. Not a bad return from some viral videos.

Free Range Root is dedicated to stopping corporate root beer “by any means necessary.” Non-violence is our modus operandi. We spread our message mostly through non-violent protests, but also use root beer “breakouts” to free root beer from their bondage in their inhumane storage facilities. We’re on a path of peace, love and organic root-based beverages.

Here’s the SugerCane Shuffle from the SugerCane Gang – fans of Maine Root.

4. Make Magazine’s Weekend Projects

Make MagazineMake Magazine takes a different approach. They not into comedy or even trying to sell you something. They provide How To videos that focus on things you can do over the weekend. Think of what Popular Mechanics or Popular Electronics could have been if they got the web. The other benefit for Make is that the videos have sponsors so they get to advertise their website and re-advertise someone else’s product at the same time. Is that like re-gifting?

5. Moe’s Southwest Grill

MOEsMoe’s Southwest Grill decided to get the customers to do the work. They held a contest for a “Burrito in Every Hand” campaign. The winner gets 2,860 vouchers good at Moe’s. They got 40 videos and over 200,000 visitors to the website set up for the campaign. They say sales have gone up, but no details and they expanded their email mailing list by over 200,000.

And here’s a link to the Notorious M.O.E. and Nacho Daddy video, the winner of MOE’s contest.( sorry,I could not get the player to publish -)

So there you have it. Some great, well maybe not great, content that deliver the goods as advertisements. There’s some good lessons for content producers in here and for advertisers as well. It’s time to think differently.

It’s too bad the Wall Street Journal doesn’t understand what it writes about as I would have provided a link to the WSJ story, but it’s behind a walled garden. And I would have provided a link to to the Wall Street Journal video on makes a video go viral, but it had too many ads to make it bearable.

The journal should also get the news that viral is not only about getting a great funny, useful or how to video, its about working the system to get to the top of the most viewed video list. Here’s a link to TechCrunch’s Secrets to Viral Videos. Too bad there’s so much gaming and shady practices involved.

If you know of more case studies, let me know.

[tags]viral video, online video, advertising, ads as content[/tags]

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