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10 B2B TV adverts to inspire you in 2019

Brands are embracing the creative opportunity of video in order to stand out. Here, Molly Raycraft talks through some of the latest TV commercials the B2B world has to offer.

As a publisher, we realise that professionals want content that’s as easy to digest as possible. They don’t have time to muddle their way through your overly wordy copy, or work out what you’re actually trying to say. They just want you to tell them what they need to know.

Although we’re stern believers in the value written content still has to give, arguably video has a place in translating your message into a truly understandable format. As well as this, video’s engagement with a prospect’s sight and sound gives a TV commercial more of a chance to create an emotional connection than the written word might.

Last year, E-marketer predicted the B2B TV advertising market to rise by 13% to 4.6 billion in 2018. But just a 30 second slot on a prime TV channel could set you back from anywhere between £1000- £30,000 (even more for sporting event slots). So with a price so high, it’s important you get your TV advert right. Here we list 10 B2B adverts (in no particular order) to provide some inspiration.

1. Ford – Backbone of Britain

Thankfully Ford moved away from producing an ad with a good-looking family driving along a winding road – yep, that’s right, the concept that every car manufacturer seems to adopt. The brand needed to create a compelling story to convince the UK’s small business owners to buy into Ford’s newly extended commercial range. To do this, it tapped into British patriotism, characterising its labourers as the army that keep this country moving. Queen’s iconic We Will Rock You sets an undefeated tone for the piece, while window cleaners scale buildings, welders ignite sparks and lifeguards save lives. By the time the ad reaches its conclusion and the army of labourers drive in unity over Flintstone Bridge in North Wales, we know that Ford are ‘Proud to serve our nation’.

Backbone of Britain | Ford UK

2. Xero – The Mechanic

Okay, so it turns out that the ‘car down the winding road’ scenario was inevitable, but in this case it’s okay, because the ad isn’t from a car manufacturer but from accounting software company, Xero. Its first ever TV commercial used the new HMRC digital tax rules to position itself as the brand that helps professionals digitise while continuing to run their day-to-day business. It did this by recognising the amount of work small business owners face in a relatable and humorous way. It’s like doing a job while simultaneously driving a car on two wheels, the video shows us. And as the car drives off into the sunset with the overtones of Peter Calpaldi’s voice, you’re promised that Xero can also provide your business with a happy ending.

Xero UK TV Advert - Less time on accounting, more on what you love

3. Xylem – The Changing Room

Water technology company Xylem teamed up with Manchester City Football Club to raise awareness of the world’s heightening water issues. If you’re a football fan you may be interested to see Sergio Agüero, David Silva and Ilkay Gündoğan grace the screen and learn about water (maybe not so much if you’re a Man United fan, although the images projected onto the Manchester City changing room is equally impressive). The VR on this commercial really visualises the drastic effects that could fall upon us in years to come, how small the Earth is, and that we really need to do more to protect it – potentially with the help of Xylem. 

Xylem – The Changing Room LIKE NEVER BEFORE | Aguero, Silva and Gundogan

4. Klarna – Get Smoooth

Another celebrity appearance brought to B2B buyers is by payment provider Klarna. Rapper Snoop Dogg – who invested in the company this year – makes a cameo alongside dogs of a different nature – Afgan Hounds with smooth long locks. The commercial, set in what we assume is Snoop’s lavish mansion, encourages the target audience to ‘Get Smoooth’ by signing up to Klarna which can provide a friction-free customer service. Admittedly it’s a bit wacky, but Klarna have seen success with this approach. In 2016, they made an ad of an Afghan Hound gliding through water in slow motion and the internet went crazy – it’s still used as a meme to this day.

GOLD PEANUT BUTTER? PAY LATER!

5. LinkedIn – In It Together

LinkedIn wanted to encourage people to use its platform to find new job opportunities. Its commercial achieves this by tapping into a concern most people have – job fulfilment. At the beginning of the advert we meet Dee Dhamija, who’s immediately relatable. She’s unhappy with her job and feels she’d be better off in a different role, which is no doubt how the target audience of LinkedIn’s job search feel. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel when Dee uses her LinkedIn account to reach out to her contacts, who between them cover multiple industries. She meets someone who helps her make a complete career jump, showing that if Dee can do it, you can too. It appears there’s some truth in the saying: ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’.

In It To Bring People Together - Dee Dhamija | #InItTogether

6. Hitachi – AI Captain: The Future of Ship Navigation

Another people-focused video has been created by Hitachi. The IT services company wanted to show the benefits of using artificial intelligence (AI) but was careful not to jump into just selling its product. Instead it took its time to curate a compelling human story, clearly guided by its brand slogan: ‘Inspire the Next’. Initially we meet Jan, who dreamt of being a captain when he was a child, and as an adult he’s achieved that. We then meet other members of his team who aspired to be sailors, and are clearly as humble and hard working as Jan. Apart from the clever title ‘AI Captain’ we don’t hear anything about the benefits of AI until two-thirds of the way through. It’s only then we begin to see how AI has helped them create safer journeys and a less stressful environment so they can continue, bound as a team through the positivity they have for each other. Surely this is every leader’s aspiration for their team?

AI Captain: The Future of Ship Navigation - Hitachi

7. AXA Group – Know You Can

There’s a common theme of success running through these commercials. And who better to demonstrate success than one of the best female tennis players in the world? AXA Group enlisted Serena Williams to encourage businesses to take out insurance, helping them overcome boundaries in the way of their goals. By drawing on Serena’s own career, the commercial outlines the pressure to win. We see Serena through different stages of her life cheering the present day Serena by chanting ‘I know I can’. The different Serenas visualise how long the tennis player has been working to get to where she wanted to be. Just like Serena, we’re encouraged to take this pressure, hard work, and determination and galvanise it into a winning goal. And let’s not forget, AXA Group is there to help us on this journey.

AXA - Know You Can - Serena Williams - Advertising 2019

8. FedEx – Meet the FedEx Same Day Bot

FedEx has created a commercial that’s somewhere between the slightly sinister Black Mirror and the extremely endearing WALL-E. To advertise its new same day delivery service, we follow the FedEx bot as it travels on an adventure through town to deliver a parcel. It’s a simple concept but with it FedEx are able to demonstrate how the bot can easily overcome challenges such as navigation, crossing roads, rolling over potholes, climbing stairs, and avoiding running over a Sausage dog. When the bot reaches its destination, it’s rewarded with a happy customer – something every business wants to see.

Meet the FedEx SameDay Bot

9. Turbo Tax – RoboChild

Also tapping into a futuristic vibe is Turbo Tax. Its ad, which ironically celebrates the humans at work behind Turbo Tax’s live CPA, pulls at the heart strings in a funny, sad and creepy way. It’s RoboChild’s career aspiration to be a Turbo Tax live CPA. However, RoboChild’s heart is broken when he finds out he’ll never be able to achieve his dream, because he’s not human. This brings us to the crux of the commercial -- when you’re talking to someone through the company’s live CPA, you’re actually talking to a human. This commercial did face criticism for creating something that looks like a creature from Sid’s garage in Toy Story. However the company has to be given credit for pushing the creative envelope.

TurboTax Live 2019 Super Bowl Commercial "RoboChild" (Official :45) TV ad

10. ADP – A Better Way to Work

ADP has gone down the route of humanising the companies it's targeting. By doing this, prospects are more likely to emotionally connect with those featured in the ad. The concept of the commercial is fairly simple; a group of individuals talking about why they do their job. But the approach is really quite powerful; it highlights the importance of a sense of purpose – something that many don’t feel within their own job. By tapping into this, ADP are able to fire up a prospect’s determination to achieve the same satisfaction, offering the ADP’s services to help them get there.

Working for Launch Anthem :30

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