‘Art and advertising, although ideologically separated by the notion of business,

carry out their existences intertwined.’

(Callerstrand, 2010)

Modern advertising shaped its way through the advent of the printing press. Weekly gazettes of 16th-century Venice were the first to feature ads for sellable products. Over time, we have come to realize that advertising is more than how it sells.

The principal feature that defines a successful advertising film is the way it sells. However, beyond the numbers and charts, advertising is about engagement. As Callerstrand comments, it isn’t too far-fetched to say that advertising is an art.

From humorous antics of an anthropomorphic animal or surreal visuals of otherworldly landscapes, art and animation have the power to capture the imagination like no other medium. Infused with business strategies, they can express the complex values of a brand and foster brand loyalty.

The following are a few brands that have taken the game of advertising a notch higher by experimenting with different art forms. 

The Art Of Wombs – Bodyform

Bodyform is a UK-based brand that has made its name in the niche sector of intimate care for women. In 2020, it released #Wombstories, an ad film that showcases the reproductive journeys of women.

The film features the work of six artists, pinballing between textile-based creations, hand-painted visuals, 2D & 3D animations, and live-action clips. The choice of media presents a tantalizing way of storytelling, recalling every stage of a woman’s reproductive existence, her pleasures, pains, and psychological complexities.

It leaves the viewer with a surprise in every frame, for something weird, fun, saddening, and intriguing, just like the journey of a woman’s life. The film reflects the brand’s identity and ends with a reminder of the care that one’s body deserves.

A still from #Wombstories: Bodyform UK

Art of Organics – Myntra (Vivi5)

A metaphor can be the perfect way to break down a complex story! In a 2017 campaign for YK Organic Babywear, Myntra, Vivi5 narrates a lullaby through carefully curated animation. What sets it apart?

The use of real fabrics as props! Each frame is handcrafted with fabrics to recreate sceneries of sun and trees. The fabrics act as the ideal metaphor for organic and safe cottonwear, enhancing brand recall.

The amalgamation of poetic narration, conscious use of color theory, and strategically placed breezy clothes, evoke warmth and care that the brand stands by. Finally, the baby acts as the element of reality that ties the ad back to the target audience. The film ends with a note of the brand’s eco-friendliness, perfectly encapsulating a tale of clothes through the digitized use of real-life fabric.

A still from YK Organic, Myntra: Vivi5 Studios

Shadow Art of Cola – Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has always been a leader in its field. The Rolling Stock ad of 1990 continues to intrigue its viewers even today.

The ad film converges the traditional with modern with a play of shadow puppets. The uniqueness of the ad lies in its simplicity. It tells a tale of fun in mundane things of life; following a group of friends entertaining themselves by casting finger shadows on a wall.

The frames do not show any human characters, yet the background laughter and amusement add a sense of belonging and nostalgia. The film evokes togetherness and a constant reminder of what the brand stands for. 

A still from Holiday Shadow Puppets: Coca-Cola

Looking for more puppetry inspirations? 

Check out this ad by Vivi5 for SBI’s Identity Theft Campaign that uses traditional puppetry of Rajasthan with a touch of metaphorical storytelling.

Art of Freebies – Harvey Nicholas

Who said art had to be complicated? Harvey Nicholas presented their free rewards campaign of 2016 with an interesting ad film, #LoveFreebies.

The film hilariously uses real-life CCTV camera footage of people illegally sneaking things out of their shops. Goofy caricatures and graphically-amped facial expressions add a hint of personalization and smartly hide the identity of those in the footage.

The brand changes the narrative of legal freebies by making shoplifting, a meme material; leveraging the idea of a low-budget production with a high-return investment by marketing freebies. Indeed, a unique idea to ensure brand recall with a quick laugh!

A still from #Lovefreebies: Harvey Nichols

Art of Sticks – Time’s Up

Creating PSAs can be challenging when dealing with sensitive subjects, all while ensuring the content remains fresh and unique.

In 2018, Time’s Up released an animated ad to promote respectful engagement in workplaces. The video showcases black and white stick figures who carry out different workplace scenarios, in a comic-styled animation. The use of conversational text with a soothing voiceover by Donald Glover gives language to employees on how to navigate day-to-day power imbalances.

By answering simple questions of unwelcome touch and the struggle of being able to say “no”, it simplifies the issue, delivering a direct message to its audience. Minimalism can certainly go a long way!

A still from Anti-Harassment PSA: Time’s Up

The notion that art and advertising come from different places is what can lead to the death of innovation in our industry. Both disciplines are built on creation, something that a mass audience is pulled towards.

The process of making good art is all about understanding the importance of research and design thinking. A laid-out design plan can elevate the way your art comes around to make your ad stand out.

Once you dare to experiment and go down the creative rabbit hole, the options are endless. Advertising is about creating something fun and memorable, about experimenting with traditional and modern art forms that can create something more than just a salesy ad. Most importantly, it is about patience and trust in the process (and loads of creativity).

Written by Adyasha