4 Examples of Modern Advertising That Live Outside the Box

Sticking to the status quo won't win you any points with consumers. People want to be surprised, delighted, even, by your spin on modern advertising.


Think outside the box. Color outside the lines. Do anything but be predictable. Explore your creative side to wow consumers.


I've compiled a list of ads released within the last three years that kick the creativity up to 11.

1. "Replaced” (Liberty Mutual)

Liberty Mutual is one of the best examples of a company that takes a unique approach to modern advertising, usually relying on humor to keep viewers interested.  


In its recent commercial, “Replaced,” good old Doug finds out he’s being replaced by a younger actor who has a propensity for mispronunciation. New Doug calls Liberty Mutual “liberty biberty” and LiMu a BiBu. 


To some, that humor might come across as childish, but to many, it hit its mark. 


In a mere 9 days, “Replaced” got 487K views and a bunch of positive comments commending the commercial for its hilarity and cleverness.


It’s silly but unexpected. Even though the humor didn’t strike much of a chord with me, I couldn’t help but see the commercial through. 


It held my attention hostage. Isn't that what a strong ad is meant to do?

2. "Why not an EV?" (General Motors x Netflix)

With Will Ferrell starring in it, you know this General Motors and Netflix collaboration is sure to be a funny one, but it delivers on creativity, too.   


Instead of building a new world for Ferrell to shine in, GM places him in some of Netflix’s most popular existing worlds, from Bridgerton to Stranger Things. That immediately sets the ad up for success, fans of Netflix's wide array of series hooked. 


I, for one, am not in the market for a new car, but I watched the entire ad to see which of the shows I liked would make the cut. 


In each world, Ferrell is driving an EV, shown to be perfect for every situation, but they’re not everyday situations, they’re kidnappings and zombie attacks. 


“So if you’re gonna get swarmed by an army of the dead, why not get swarmed in an EV?”


GM gives EVs a stage, which is the ad’s goal based on its ending tagline, but it doesn’t inform viewers as to why it deserves that stage.


It doesn’t list stats about reducing our carbon footprint or detail an EV’s desirable features, rather it has Ferrell speaking in a British accent and getting bitten by a zombie.


This is an example of a recent trend seen in modern advertising to promote a brand without actually singing its praises. We saw this in Pepsi’s Super Bowl commercial. It’s an interesting, seemingly backward tactic, but it works. 

3. "Ed's Heinz Ad"

Probably the frontrunner of this list, “Ed’s Heinz Ad” is engaging from start to finish, especially given the start reveals it’s based on a real DM from Sheeran, though the skeptics among us, myself included, might not be convinced. 


Heinz projects the mind of Ed Sheeran onto our screens, taking us through his vision for a Heinz ad that ends up being the Heinz ad. A bit of a meta mouthful, isn’t it?


Sheeran narrates the idea he had for the commercial as he acts it out, the whole ad set in a "posh restaurant." It’s gripping in a low stakes way. You don't need intense action sequences to capture attention. 


By the end of the ad, Sheeran is pouring ketchup onto a beautifully plated, fancy meal, the waiter and other diners appalled. 


We are bystanders to the ad's world and story being built. How could we look away? Plus, Sheeran's natural likability helps.


This one’s better watched to get the full picture than explained, so do yourself a favor and click on the above video for some modern advertising inspiration.

4. "Binky Dad" (Kia)


It seems the automotive industry is mastering thinking outside the box, as this Kia ad gives the GM ad a run for its money. 


One dad puts his Kia to the test when he has to make a perilous journey back home because he did the unthinkable: he forgot his baby’s binky for a family trip. 


He races down ski slopes, through construction zones, and over football fields, all to return to his wife with the wrong color binky. 


It's a short action flick flipped on its head. I doubt you've ever seen the hero save a family vacation by going on a quest to retrieve a binky.


It tells a fresh story, albeit a far-fetched one.


Unique stories sell.


Another notable aspect of the ad is the fanbase that grows in support of "Binky Dad." Fans document his journey on social media, as is the natural inclination of many people today, cheering him on.


The collective investment in "Binky Dad's" success heightens our own investment in it and in the ad as a whole. 

Why modern advertisers have to step up their game

For us marketers, the digital world really is our oyster. With increased access to advanced technology, ads can be made to look like mini movies, powerful stories their backbone.


We need to generate ideas befitting of that high quality.


Possibilities are endless. The capacity for creativity is boundless. Successful modern advertising is forward-looking. It relies on imagination and storytelling, marketers’ visions brought to life by the impressive editing tools at our disposal. 


It’s better to think too big than too small. Show consumers what your brand is made of.

Create immersive, Instagram-style digital stories for your brand with STORYSOFT. Learn more.

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