Commercials should not be opaque or distant to their audience, they should be reflective and connective. Companies creating mirror experiences are doing more than cultivating empathy, they’re also prompting recognition. Those “I see myself in you” or even "I am you" moments are brought to life, the “you” being the main character in a commercial.
One company that does a fantastic job of facilitating mirror experiences is Vrbo. It does this by ensuring its commercials are universal.
Before we dive in, check out our mirror experience blog to get familiar with mirroring.
Being vague to create universal mirror experiences
In fiction, details are everything, like the spices in pumpkin pie or the baking powder in pancakes. A story would be tasteless and flat without proper detail.
However, when creating powerful, universal mirror experiences in your commercials, you can cut back on the details, being at once specific and unspecific. That’s a fun contradiction to wrap your head around.
What I mean is, occasional ambiguity is beneficial because it allows customers to fill in the blanks with details from their own life experiences, opening the door for deeper connection to the main character of the commercial, one that goes even deeper than empathy.
Think about it. When we look in a mirror, what do we see? Ourselves. The more detail a commercial has, the foggier the glass, so to speak. Yet, at the same time, too little detail leads to no real reflection at all. It’s about striking a balance.
"Vrbo homes are always all yours"
Vrbo keeps its commercials general but detailed, so that every viewer can step into its various worlds.
In its commercial, "Vrbo homes are always all yours. So all that space is just for you and your people,” a wide cast of characters is shown, spanning ages, genders, etc., all partaking in typical, relatable vacation activities.
Children run around happily. A father and son play pickleball. People read by the pool, stock the fridge, swim, and so on. We don't know anything about them, but in this case, we don't need to.
At the commercial's close, a dinner scene is shown, a big family gathered around the table. That scene struck me the most because of how universal it is. We can't see what they're eating or really make out what they're saying, but many of us know what family dinners are like. We can, as discussed above, fill in the blanks, positioning ourselves right there with them.
We see and feel the family's joy so much so that we want to experience it for real, convincing us to rent a Vrbo vacation home.
Using the inclusive second person
To prime viewers for a universal mirror experience, Vrbo addresses them using the second person.
For example, in "Find your dream vacation home," the first line of narration is, "This is your home." It's not a home or her home or their home, it's your home.
The second person is perfect because it's completely inclusive. You are the "you" in a Vrbo commercial, just as I am the "you" too. Everyone is "you."
We are already a part of the commercial from the get-go, so feeling as if we are experiencing what the characters are experiencing is easy, and, in some ways, unavoidable.
The second person is a mighty tool, one that is not suitable for literature but is pure gold when it comes to commercials.
Take a page from Vrbo's book and create universal mirror experiences to widen your reach and increase overall engagement.
You have the power to connect with your customers by connecting them to your commercials. Start now.