When you need to convince customers to buy, it’s vital to understand the nuances of different types of commercials. Each commercial brings your product or service to attention in a particular manner and effects a corresponding consumer action. When you’re clear about how categories of commercials capture audiences, you can invest wisely in advertising that is profitable. Learn to make better decisions with your next marketing campaign with these 15 Types of Commercials (and How They Move Customers to Buy).
1) Demonstration Commercials
A product demonstration commercial gives you the chance to show potential customers how your product or service solves a specific problem. In a demonstration commercial, you relate to your audience through an everyday obstacle, then show how your service or product’s useful features solve the dilemma. TV infomercials are an obvious long-form example of demonstration commercials. In an extended paid advertisement (that doesn’t represent the views of the station), informercials try to sway customers by showcasing the product and exhibiting how effectively it solves a problem. But wait, you say, most people don’t watch a full infomercial, and you’re exactly right. The good news is that demonstration commercials are even more potent with a 30-second spot. In 2021, Samsung sold 157 million mobile phones, thanks in part to a dynamic COVID marketing campaign featuring a quick demonstration commercial with Justin Bieber.
Samsung related to our lockdown loneliness and showed how Galaxy phones and tablets allow us to “Be Together,” even when we’re asked to remain distant during COVID. Demonstration commercial video production creates urgency in the mind of the consumer by exposing an immediate problem and providing the product solution. The commercial’s information covers how the product is used to make life better for the customer right now. This call to action moves consumers to buy products as soon as possible without making any obvious push for a sale. Show how your product solves a pressing problem, appeal to your target audience, and watch the sales roll in.
2) Testimonial Commercials
Testimonial commercials are stories of actual customers experiences and subsequent endorsements of your products or services. Even employees are candidates to give a testimonial and personal story about the benefits of your brand. While the voiceovers of personal testimonies play, we see those individuals interacting with the brand’s products and services. This makes a product or service seem more “human” to the consumer. What real people think of a business and how they find it helpful is relatable and builds consumer confidence. As of 2011, Nielsen found that 70% of respondents trusted consumer opinions, even though trust for most advertising types was under 50%. Testimonial commercials stand out as a powerful method to build brand support and strengthen consumer trust with social proof. The goal is long-term brand awareness, inspiration for future engagement, and social media video production to verify brand reputation.
3) Stand Up Presenter Commercials
In a stand-up presenter commercial, one person is filmed giving a sales pitch for the product. The technique is akin to bringing the traditional concept of an in-person salesman to a media commercial. It allows the commercial to make use of the presenter’s persuasive power, which is why the presenter is often a celebrity. Some customers prefer to be addressed directly when considering whether to buy a product, which makes it essential to select a stand-up presenter who appeals to the target audience. The goal is a no-fluff presentation of the benefits of the product or service with a direct sales pitch. Stand-up presenter commercials build trust through association and, through repetition, move specific consumer segments to take action.
4) Slice-of-Life Commercials
A slice-of-life commercial portrays realistic, everyday situations to connect with viewers on a relatable and emotional level. Structured around family, friends, or individual feats, slice-of-life commercials showcase a product or service as a heroic addition to daily life. The characters in these types of tv commercials feel happy about the brand promise and find the products and services useful. Slice-of-life marketing establishes a genuine connection with consumers by marrying a product with normal consumer behaviors.
5) Lifestyle Commercials
Lifestyle commercials showcase a desirable lifestyle associated with a particular product or brand, appealing to consumers’ aspirations, ideals, and personal identities. Consumers develop a positive association with the brand and perceive it as a facilitator of their desired lifestyle. Lifestyle advertising attempts to shape consumer preferences, create brand loyalty, and influence purchasing behaviors based on emotional resonance. Whereas slice-of-life commercials are based on relatable everyday scenarios, lifestyle commercials evoke an ideal world where consumers transcend everyday boundaries through a manner of living that is made possible by a product or service. The lifestyle displayed in the commercial appeals to our desire for an extraordinary identity, and the product is positioned as an essential component of self-discovery.
6) Animation Commercials
Animation commercials use 2D cartoons or 3D computer-generated imagery to engage viewers with captivating storytelling and imaginative visuals. Cereal mascots, M&M “spokescandies,” Coca-Cola polar bears, and charming geckos convey two-dimensional cartoon-like characters that build family brand identity. Conversely, three-dimensional advertising evokes futuristic sophistication with advanced technologies, animated objects, and avant-garde innovations. The most obvious audience for 2D animation commercials is children (and the child within), but 3D animation captivates a broader target audience. The goal of animated commercials is to be whimsically remarkable, associating a sense of wonder with the brand. 2D and 3D animation are effective in moving consumers to buy now by associating instant enjoyment with the consumption of a product or service.
7) Jingle Commercials
Jingle commercials heavily feature a catchy tune with lyrics and a memorable brand-promoting slogan. Jingle commercials can be audio-only radio commercials or video commercials with music in the background. According to MSW research, a common technique is to put more focus on the jingle in a campaign’s earlier commercials. Once the jingle is associated with the brand, it can be used as a simple reminder. A jingle can improve ad recall by around 15%. Although the jingle might not directly spur customers to buy, the customer’s recognition of the brand can last for generations.
8) Product as Hero Commercials
You guessed it, a Product as Hero commercial showcases the exemplary qualities of the product in action without directly “selling” the product or service. Also called a visual hero, these commercials portray the product as a hero that rescues consumers (or loved ones) from the mundane, satisfying some ultimate desire. The product quality is highlighted with cinematography techniques, visual effects, idyllic imagery, and a narrative that evokes an “I’ve got to have it” response.
Car commercials are a major category of “product as hero” commercials. In these types of commercials, the car takes center stage and is portrayed as the hero of the story. The focus is on the car’s features, performance, and design, often highlighting how they enhance the driver’s experience and represent their aspirations. These commercials emphasize the car’s capabilities, safety features, innovative technology, and overall appeal, positioning the product itself as the hero that delivers an exceptional driving experience. Car commercials may also include a celebrity driver to further ingrain the “hero” archetype.
9) Funny Commercials
Funny commercials use humor to engage and entertain target audiences. Humorous commercials include clever scenarios, witty dialogue, musical interludes, visual gags, and slapstick humor to elicit laughter, amusement, and positive feelings towards your brand. Compared to commercials without humor, funny commercials are highly persuasive because they entertain the audience, improve brand attitudes, and build awareness by creating viral moments. Of course, it’s important for a funny commercial to be, well, funny. Identifying your target audience and understanding their sense of humor is essential when planning these commercials. That said, when accompanied by an airtight brand strategy, truly funny commercials move customers to buy and spread your brand message.
10) Continuing Character Commercials
Just like they sound, continuing character commercials use a recurring actor, mascot, or fictional character across multiple TV commercials and advertisements. The actor, mascot, or characters maintain consistent traits and personalities across a storyline that progresses through the life of an advertising campaign, creating a cohesive and recognizable brand identity. Think Samuel L. Jackson for Capitol One, the animated gekko for Geico, or Flo and Jamie’s team members for Progressive Insurance. These characters become associated with the brand and provide a tool to strengthen brand recognition. They can also enhance how engaging a commercial is by strengthening its storytelling. Though continuing characters in a commercial do not directly move customers to buy now, they solidify the brand in the customer’s mind. MSW research compared various metrics for television commercials. For ads with a continuing character, the average recall was on average 38% higher than for ads without.
11) Reason Why Commercials
Reason-why commercials appeal to the consumer’s rational thinking and decision-making process by providing compelling reasons to choose the advertised product. Striving to make sense intuitively, commercials convince the customer that the product is good by talking about its benefits. The term comes from John E. Kennedy’s early 20th-century series of articles, published in Reason Why Advertising. In reason-why advertising, the role of an advertisement is seen like that of a salesman. Instead of simply building brand recognition, the commercial should give customers a “reason” for “why” they should make a purchase. Traditionally, advertising is most effective in print because it gives more space to convince the customer. That said, when combined with humor, reason-why commercials move consumers to buy immediately with simple and succinct illustrations to motivate consumption of a product or service.
12) Emotional Commercials
Emotional commercials employ storytelling techniques, relatable characters, evocative music, powerful visuals, or poignant narratives to elicit emotional reactions such as joy, sadness, nostalgia, empathy, or inspiration. Instead of focusing solely on logical or rational appeals, emotional commercials tap into the audience’s sympathies, aiming to create a deep and memorable connection between the viewer and the brand. The Plastic Pollution Coalition’s project, The Last Plastic Straw, went viral with a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic straw removed from its nose. Harnessing the audience’s shock, anger, or sense of care and compassion makes emotional commercials particularly effective for an immediate call to action, sentimental purchase, and ongoing engagement with your brand’s story. That said, emotions are volatile by nature, and these commercials can miss the mark when the sentiment portrayed is not shared universally by all consumers. When made properly, emotional commercials are powerful for motivating consumers to take positive action, identify with your brand, and purchase your products or services both now and in the future.
13) Voiceover Commercials
A voiceover commercial involves narration from a voice actor who isn’t shown on screen. It’s more subtle than a stand-up commercial. However, it can similarly make use of a dynamic voice (often a celebrity) and the persuasive power of the human voice on an audience. With a voiceover commercial, the speaker’s presence is subtle, allowing the commercial to maximize attention on the product. When the voiceover is recognizable or remarkable, the audience’s attention is held, and brand awareness is spread. Effective voiceover commercials can also elicit consumer nostalgia by using audio from a bygone era. Whether utilizing the audio of a famous speech or a powerful moment of vocal resonance that captures the consumer’s values, voiceover commercials are an important means of uniting the customer with your brand identity. Though they do not always move consumers to make purchasing decisions immediately, voiceover commercials work well in a larger advertising campaign, where they contribute to the overall persuasive power of multiple commercials advertising the brand.
14) Seasonal Commercials
Seasonal commercials are thematically relevant to a particular holiday or calendar event in order to influence consumer purchases during that time of year. These commercials take advantage of cyclical timing to connect with consumers and motivate them to make purchases during specific seasons. Holidays like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s Day, as well as calendar events like back-to-school shopping in the fall and wedding season in the spring, provide prime timing for brands to connect their products to seasonal consumption. Evoking feelings of joy, nostalgia, togetherness, celebration, or anticipation, seasonal commercials create emotional connections that inspire consumers to embrace the spirit of the season, consider the advertised product or service, and participate in the shopping festivities.
15) Branded Content (the Non-Commercial)
Branded content captures new audiences without appearing overly pitchy or promotional, opting to build a relationship with customers through shared activities, values, and interests. This non-traditional commercial approach creates dynamic, cross-platform video content that doesn’t directly try to sell your brand, product or service. With this subtle approach to advertising, you’ll appeal to audiences over a longer period of exposure, especially by reaching target audiences with social media video production. Branded content video production allows the audience to resonate with a style, ethos, or moment-in-time, that subtly associates those experiences with your brand. Though branded content does not directly move customers to buy, it is essential for brand messaging, social engagement, and ongoing brand awareness.
Depth of Field
We’ve highlighted 15 Types of Commercials (and How They Move Customers to Buy), but there are many nuances within every commercial type. Whether you combine commercial types or create your own genre, don’t be boring. Commercials are powerful vehicles that move customers towards your brand and deeper into your sales funnel. Though not every type of commercial directly moves customers to action, each commercial type is absolutely an opportunity to build brand awareness, trust, and long-term loyalty. Whether customers buy now or in the future, make the most of your advertising by understanding the short-term or long-term impact of these commercial types so you can deploy them effectively in your next marketing campaign.