This video pre-roll gets it right

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Missy Franklin writes note to parents with Minute Maid carton prominently placed

I am like 94 percent of YouTube viewers — I skip the pre-roll advertising as soon as I can so that I can get to the video I went there for. But today, a Minute Maid ad had me in its grip to the end. It features U.S. Olympian Missy Franklin paying homage to her parents.

The video ingeniously poses a tough question in its first 15 seconds: Missy’s parents wonder whether she has been robbed of her childhood and whether they have made the right decisions by her. Missy turns the tables and reads a letter of thanks to her parents during a news conference that gets even the sports reporters all blubbery.

Advertisers are getting the hang of the pre-roll tactic, in which an ad message gets served up before you get to see the video you really were looking for. The tactic has tremendous advantage over traditional TV advertising: it costs much less, you can target your audience, you can get them to act, and you get concrete feedback on whether – and how much of — your message was viewed.

The problem has been that these ads are interruptive – I wasn’t looking for orange juice when this ad popped up on my computer. On YouTube, you are given the option to skip the ad after it has run a few seconds, which helps keep people from going totally ballistic over the interruption.

In my line of work, I will purposely seek out online video ads in search of excellent ones and train wrecks. But when I’m browsing, I skip the pre-roll unless it grabs me by the eyeballs and takes me off my chosen track. And that rarely happens, because pre-roll ads are too often like TV ads – shouting “buy me, buy me” when I wasn’t looking for their product or service.

But recently, advertisers have begun to set the hook in that 5-second opening window and follow it up with storytelling that is appropriate for someone who is in the YouTube browsing mode. The Minute Maid ad nailed it.

I really, really didn’t like one thing, though: The conspicuous product placement. The bottle of Minute Maid OJ on the podium at the news conference. The perfectly positioned carton and glass next to Missy as she reenacts the letter-writing to her parents. It intrudes on the story and I don’t think it’s necessary. There’s an unobtrusive Minute Maid logo at the top.

A link in the video takes you to the MinuteMaid #doinggoodcontest, inviting you to submit stories of parents doing good things. It is supposed to drive Twitter and Instagram posts that will amplify the Minute Maid brand in a perfectly appropriate social media campaign.

The campaign has been in the field only a few days, so no submissions yet. If this thing is constructed right, there will be ongoing promotion on all social media channels to raise awareness, prime the pump of story submissions, and get a virtuous cycle started. I hope that’s the way it plays out – this ad is an excellent start.

Steve is sole proprietor of Connected Communication, LLC, a consultancy that helps organizations develop integrated PR, communication, and marketing programs. His particular expertise is in the health industry, including insurance, health delivery systems, and digital health. Steve also is professor of public relations and journalism at Metro State University of Denver.


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1 Comment
    • Casey
    • May 23, 2016

    Really a nice piece, but you are right about the product placement. Took what was otherwise genuine OJ and made me feel more like Sunny D. As for thematic commercials w/o the product placement, take a look at Gatorade’s “Dear Peyton”


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