Video ads to make you laugh, cry, and gasp with wonder

Video is still the best way to tell stories, not just for writers but also for marketers. Within a few minutes, you can convey big ideas about your brands in simple but meaningful packages.

Use an appropriate background track, throw in relatable characters, and hold it all together with a thoughtful script – you end up with a piece that will stay with your audience for a lifetime, either by being hilarious, unexpected, and shocking or emotional, deep, and awe-inspiring.

Case in point, the ad collection below pays homage to some of the best video advertisements in recent history. Keep tissues ready because you’ll either be crying your hearts out or laughing through your noses (is that possible?)

Ghar Ka Khana ~ Fortune Foods

  • Agency: Ogilvy & Mather India
  • Year: 2014 for Fortune Oils

Oh dear, this is such a tear-jerker, and I love the daadi played by veteran Kamlesh Gill because she captures the adamant yet warm persona so beautifully. Vivek Kakkad of Curious films directed this masterpiece, and I think it makes for a wonderful case study on branded storytelling for 3 simple reasons:

  • Leverages the mother-son bond to create an emotional connection with the audience
  • Uses nostalgia to bring back childhood memories of eating at home
  • Seamlessly & naturally integrates its product into the center of the script (joy of healthy food)

According to a report by AFaqs, “The background score, which plays an important role, was created by Abhishek Arora (the music director for Vicky Donor) while Nitin Pradhan, former creative director at JWT, penned the lyrics.

Swaroop Khan, a contestant on Indian Idol 5 and a folk singer from Rajasthan has sung the emotional song.”

Honestly, I just want to go hug our old folks now. What’s your take on this video? Did it tug at your heartstrings, too?

Fuelled by Love ~ British Airways

  • Agency: SapientNitro
  • Year: 2016 for British Airways (Indian market)

This one has set new sky-high standards for brand storytelling with this emotional ad. Apart from the cute daadi (granny) who steals the show, what I love about the script from a marketing lens is that:

  • It humanizes its service employees & shares the brand experience through their eyes … which is very rare!
  • It takes the effort to research & understand the Indian target audience’s culture, values, heritage, and family relationships … most brands never bother to do this research
  • It zooms in an intimate friendship rather than displaying big numbers and statistics, which wouldn’t have made an emotional impact on anyone

Also what is it with grandparents and lovely ads haha, is that the magical ingredient or something?

Unsung Hero ~ Thai Life Insurance

  • Agencies: Ogilvy & Mather, Phenomena
  • Year: 2014 for Thai Life Insurance (Bangkok)

Most life insurance commercials go the usual route of showing family-centered stories to promote their products. But this tear-jerking ad takes the principle of being there for others beyond blood relationships.

  • It keeps the storyline quite simple, focusing on one man and his day-to-day journey, showing how one can practise a little kindness every day despite busy schedules.
  • There is no mention of the product because all the focus is on the value/ethics that the company believes in. This bold move makes this look like a nice short film instead of an ad, thus hooking more people in. Currently, it has 1M+ likes.
  • There is a massively impactful conclusion that hits the spot hard. Whoever wrote the script knew just how to build up the tiny moments to an epic crescendo.

It’s the simple writing and visual direction that makes this a brilliant case study of how telling a good story can have more impact on your sales than lazily promoting your product. We want to see more warm fuzzy ads, please!

Wedding Speech ~ Paisabazaar

This is such an emotional coaster ride. I’m impressed with the soulful dialogue & classy acting by all the characters. But there’s a deeper reason why I love it so much.

Technically, you’d expect Paisabazaar to push customers to buy loans that they aggregate on the site. But this story does exactly the opposite, encouraging people to build their dreams bit by bit without ‘depending’ on another person. So the message is that PB wants to empower its customers & not just make the cut from their banking partners.

This humanizes the brand and clearly establishes its broader vision. The technique is called ‘anti-selling,’ in which you show people that your brand goes beyond the physical utility of your product. The idea is to create an emotional connection around your core offering so that customers don’t feel like they’re being sold to.

Does your brand really care about making an impact on their lives? Much like the elder brother in this ad, who loved his sibling silently, do you have your audience’s best interest at heart? Try conveying and practicing empathy in your marketing- it’s an underrated but effective trick!

Men will be Men ~ Imperial Blue

  • Agency: Ogilvy & Mather India
  • Year: 1999 for Seagram’s Imperial Blue

No marketing discussion is complete without a mention of the iconic Seagram’s Imperial Blue campaign that had men (and women) around the world in splits, and that, too, without using many words!

The whiskey marker wanted a “surrogate ad” campaign to push its music CDs since advertising alcohol was (and still is) banned on television by the Indian government.

FYI, surrogate advertising means using another secondary product to create awareness of your brand’s name, probably because your product is mature, taboo, illegal, or discouraged for promotion towards underage viewers (e.g. alcohol, condoms, porn, etc.).

To capture the office-going male audience, Ogilvy & Mather India originally conceptualized a series of relatable & evergreen ads. They poke fun at the subtle ways in which men will try to impress or court the fairer gender.

Without being too sexist or cringey, the witty storylines pack a light comedic punch, accompanied by the catchy tune, “Pyaar ki Raah me Chalna Sikh…”

BTW, that tune was written by Ajay Gahlaut, who was then the Executive Creative Director of Ogilvy’s Delhi chapter. As of 2021, he’s currently leading Dentsu Creative.

Sharan Sanil from MensXP makes a great observation.

He says, “Here, the humor doesn’t really arise from objectifying the woman that the man comes across – it comes from the subversion of his expectations, and how the world is indifferent to the loss of his fantasy – a theme that, in more recent ad films, [often] play out without any women even being part of the frame [or being actively involved in the script].”

I’m a huge fan of this whole concept because it finds a way to touch the target audience (predominantly men) without taking them too seriously. This is classic tongue-in-cheek humor at its finest!

Powerpoint Finance ~ Bank on Fi

  • Creators: In-house
  • Year: 2021 for “Bank on Fi” India

Other ads in the series:

Fi is a neobank startup (operating without physical branches) that wants to help young Indian millennials & Gen-Zs save money through automated savings every time they shop online.

In a bid to show their no-bullshit young personality, they created video ads with a funny “low-effort” Powerpoint theme, as if mocking the software’s blatant use in the wake of work-from-home culture since the COVID-19 lockdowns in India.

This played well with their brand’s persona of being prudent with your money. Because the series doesn’t go for any expensive photoshoots or celebrity endorsements.

Instead, it completely relies on memes, common internet lingo, and an honest anti-jargon script, delivered by a friendly young voice.

The execution looks entirely done on MS Powerpoint Slides to the layman. But looking at the cute animations, this was probably executed in After Effects/Premiere Pro.

The ads were reportedly run as paid performance campaigns on social media and OTT platforms like Hotstar during the IPL season.

We’ve written a more detailed blog post explaining this technique so do check that out here.

Worth Killing ~ Ladder Life Insurance

  • Agency: Fred & Farid
  • Year: 2021 (October) for Ladder Life Insurance (USA)

This is another life insurance commercial that decides to take a unique approach, although this time it’s a really, really dark comedic tone (unlike the emotional Thai life spot we saw earlier).

I love that the creators decided to meddle with the whole idea of getting life insurance (protecting your loved ones) and then turned it on its head (this stuff is so good, your loved ones will want to kill you). That’s just genius thinking!

The element that sealed the deal for me was the last bit of voiceover which clarifies that attempting to commit insurance fraud will almost certainly land you in jail.

Overall, the execution is brilliant because it keeps you guessing about the product until the end. What a masterpiece!


So that concludes our list of the best video ads ever! Which one is your favorite? Did we miss out on any good picks? Let us know in the comments.

Published by Manik Rege

Writer | Digital Marketer | Leadership Enthusiast. Tweet to me @manik_rege

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