Pre-roll ads have somewhat of a reputation in the advertising industry. If you’re not familiar with the term, you almost certainly know these ads when you see them—the typically unskippable clips that play on YouTube and other platforms right before the content you intended to watch.
Pre-roll ads can be tough to get right. They’re met with skepticism from audiences who are forced to sit through painfully long seconds of ad content—a frustration that’s becoming increasingly rare in the age of ad-blocking and ad-free streaming.
To combat this dilemma, brands over the years have tried to lean into the concept, like Geico famously did with its “Unskippable” ad. What made that ad so successful? It acknowledged the user behavior of relentlessly skipping pre-roll ads as soon as possible, poking fun at how that behavior is useless for the Geico ad because it’s so brief.
Despite rare successes like Geico over the years, pre-roll ads typically leave something to be desired for audiences. So, why are we still talking about them? Enter McDonald’s.
McDonald’s flipped this concept on its head to promote handwashing in the midst of COVID-19. The company’s ad features 20 seconds of uninterrupted handwashing, the CDC-recommended timeframe to eliminate the virus.
In doing so, the company deliberately highlights the unskippable timeframe by giving those 20 seconds context. What was once an unbearable 20-second wait to get to the “real” content is now both a useful reminder of the importance of handwashing and a callout for a unifying experience that we can all identify with.
Take a look in the video below, and remember to wash your hands!