My 6 step process for analyzing video ads

Last week I stayed home a couple days from work. I didn't feel very well, and I thought it wiser to stay home and rest a bit than to go to work and possibly get more ill...and possibly get others ill.

I did some work while I was home; called in for a video conference about web design and the marketing team's role in crafting web copy, as well as in setting strategic priorities for future marketing capabilities. It was a good video chat, and I'm excited about how things will play out.

Candidly, I also spent some time on Facebook, where I saw a friend had posted a video link to a Heineken ad. I've enjoyed Heineken ads over the years. Generally, I lump them right up there with Nike video ads in terms of quality, verve, style, and ability to capture and convey the emotions they want associated with their brand. The video was effectively a PSA for understanding and tolerance. But my description doesn't do the ad the justice it's due.

I won't go into the details of the ad, titled "World's Apart." But I do recommend you watch it. It's very thought-provoking, and a brilliant play by Heineken from a brand marketing perspective. Check it out here.

Watching the Heineken ad, I had a bit of a creative spark. See, I've recently been spending time facilitating discussions for my team on the concepts of organizational purpose and values. First, we watched Sinek's "Start with Why" TED talk. We began thinking about what our organizational 'why' might be. Our next session would focus on Steve Jobs as he introduced the Chiat/Day ad, "Think Different," from 1997. As I prep for those discussions, I watch lots of other videos (I also review my own personal journal, my business school notes, and other articles I've written to see if there's any other insight I can bring in).

I spend a pretty decent amount of time watching video advertisements, analyses of video marketing campaigns, and discussions about topics germane to communicating a particular idea and eliciting a particular response.

What I came up with as I watched the Heineken ad is a framework for decomposing, analyzing, and evaluating a video advertisement along the following dimensions: emotion(s) elicited; action (or willingness to act) prompted; opinion formed of the centerpiece brand; and any unintended messages, emotions, outcomes, etc. This framework could be equally useful for commercial ads and political campaign videos.

Here's the framework:

  1. Learn about the ad from third parties. Read a summary, synopsis, or news release about the ad. Answer the question: What is the ad about?
  2. Based on what you learn, list the emotions you believe the ad will encourage. Answer the question: How do you think the ad will make you feel?
  3. List out the action or behavior you think the ad seeks from its target audience. Answer the question: What is the ad trying to get you to do?
  4. Watch the ad.
  5. Record the emotion(s) you experience during the ad. Answer the question: How did the ad actually make you feel?
  6. Finally, state the action(s) you were poised to take (the thing you were ready to do) because of the ad. Answer the question: What did the ad make you want to do?

For #5, below is a matrix that can be used to record your emotions and tie them to specific sections, images, sounds, etc. that you observe during the ad. NOTE: the examples I list have nothing to do with the Heineken ad, nor any of the videos I referenced above.

After I used the framework once or twice I realized a seventh step might be necessary. The seventh step would effectively be the postmortem, or the synthesis of steps 1 through 6 applied as a lens to help answer "What now?" for the ad.

I'd love to hear if you find this useful, or if you have ideas for how to make this framework better. And I'd love to learn of any other frameworks that folks use to help review an analyze different types of marketing or advertising campaigns, so get in touch via Twitter or Facebook.

Video ads analysis matrix

Emotion Section of ad Cause/driver Action/behavior aroused
(example) anger first 10 seconds image of physically abused child wanted to beat up the person responsible
(example) joy last 10 seconds image of child abuser in jail wanted to high-five the person next to me