Try Reversing Audience Expectations Like This New Video Ad from China Airlines

Let’s face it: In 2019, we consume so much media online that it is all getting pretty predictable. Ads these days, especially video ads, need to do a lot to stand out. There’s only so many beautifully shot natural locations shot via drone footage and scored to a poppy house track our little Instagram scrolling eyeballs can take. 

That’s why, as important as it is to get involved in video marketing so that you don’t fall behind all of your competitors who already are, it’s just as important to be aware of what videos are already out there – and to try to actively subvert expectations so that you can create something original and get people’s attention. 

Technically, this is what we talk about when we talk about something going viral: It has that “X factor” that surprises and thrills an audience to the point where they have to share it with their friends and family. 

That’s the feeling I got when I saw the newly viral spot “#WhatTravelBringsYou” from China Airlines. This spot features a series of travelers and the things they end up bringing back with them after traveling to different locations around the world. It’s a cute idea for a premise, albeit one that feels pretty familiar, but the execution of the concept is what caught me (and a lot of other people) off-guard. 

Because we are so used to airline companies touting all the exciting and amazing things about traveling and flying the world over, this video subverted expectations by showing that not everything you bring back from your travels is good. Go ahead and watch it and then we’ll get into a few takeaways you can borrow for your own video marketing journey!

That last one got me. How trippy was that? Remember… what happens in Edinburgh, doesn’t stay in Edinburgh… 

All right, so what did we learn? 

Takeaway #1: Reversing expectations is a great way to surprise an audience. 

When you think of an airline promoting the hashtag “what travel brings you,” what comes to mind? Probably the sharing of sweet memories represented by photos and trinkets of experiences you will cherish forever, promoting the wonders of travel and how much better life is when you see the world and experience new things. 

While that would be a perfectly good promotion on its own, what got people’s attention was how this video reversed, or subverted, those expectations. What the viewer thought would be a sweet ad promoting how lovely traveling is, they got a reality check on everything that could go wrong after coming home from a vacation, whether it be a new marriage, an extra ten pounds, a face lift, an unwanted pregnancy, or even a ghost.

In your own video marketing, how can you take a similar approach to your video ads? What expectations do viewers in your industry have when researching or discovering new products or services in your field? For example, what type of hashtag could you promote with an ironic twist like the #WhatTravelBringsYou if you are a restaurant or a tech product? Thinking outside the box like so can lead to all kinds of surprises, and if you can surprise yourself, you can surprise an audience, which will be more likely to delight and inspire them to share your work.

Takeaway #2: Honesty can resonate more strongly than fantasy. 

When all it takes is an ill-timed tropical storm or an uncomfortable run-in with a local to ruin a vacation, one may find themselves wishing they never booked a flight to begin with. Plus, we all know how hard air travel can be on our bodies (and minds and soul), and have heard plenty of horror stories, if not lived them ourselves. That’s what makes the sheer honesty of this video ad, although played for comedic effect, so refreshing.

While other airline companies try to make it seem like travel is the best thing that ever happened to you, the reality is results may vary. It can be a mixed bag, like anything else in life. That’s why, in your own video marketing, you should consider how to create a similarly clever premise for your videos that plays off of what’s been done before, but with an honest, even unglamorous spin on it. Your audience will appreciate you being real, and if it’s funny, they’ll love it even more – and might even share it with their friends with some caption along the lines of: “How true is this?!”  

Takeaway #3: Sometimes the best joke you can write is making fun of yourself 

It goes hand in hand with what I just said, so it’s kind of cheating to make this the third takeaway, but if you’re going for a funny marketing video, sometimes the best joke you can make is on yourself. Think about all the famous comedians you know who make themselves the punchline. Being self aware not only earns you the respect of an audience, but it makes them feel in on the joke. If you can make fun of yourself, they can too, and they’ll laugh twice as hard – with you, not at you. 

In your next video ad campaign, think about ways you can promote your product or service while also not taking yourself too seriously. You don’t need to cut yourself down specifically – for example, China Airlines didn’t making a video laughing at how much it stinks to fly China Airlines – but think about ridiculous aspects of your industry, or the ridiculousness of the problem your product solves (Poo-Pourri is another great example). If you can be clever, honest, and funny, you have a great video ad on your hands. 

Need a talented video team to go with that brilliant idea? Reach out!

Whether you have a brilliant, expectations-reversing premise ready to go and just need a video team to execute it, or you’re looking for a talented team of creatives to help brainstorm one of you, we at Lemonlight would love to help. We offer high quality, affordable video packages for companies at all stages of video marketing exploration, with the goal of assisting whatever need you’re looking to accomplish, wherever you are in your video marketing journey. Schedule a call today to get started. 

Grant Harvey

Grant Harvey