Producing Effective Content | You say it best when you say nothing at all

Image of Peterson, "the Neighbor", peeping through his blinds. Screenshot taken from the video game trailer for Hello Neighbor. The game trailer is used in this article to demonstrate effective content.

 Producing Effective Content

You say it best when you say nothing at all

85% of video content watched on Facebook is consumed in silence. Let that sink in for a moment. We live in a digital age where there is a constant need for effective content. We need it to interact with our audience and keep them engaged.

Unlike YouTube or other click to access web content, users are generally browsing through their Facebook feed at high speed, only stopping for content that catches their eye, be it the tagline or bold image presented by the publisher. That, however, is only have the battle. Most users will give a video under 3 seconds to hold their attention before moving on.

Successful content publishing platforms like Now This and UNILAD know how to make the most of this almost retro phenomenon by producing effecting content. Their ads are designed to capture the attention of the view without needing to use sound. They attract the user and initially push the content using an eye catching, colourful still image and follow it with a call to action phrase directed at the viewer.

Hello Neighbor (Game Trailer) | 2015 | Now This

click to play

In this trailer Now This have presented the viewer with a shock statement to capture their attention “This game will use your mistakes to kill you“. By speaking in the 2nd person they have engaged the user and presented them with a potentially thrilling scenario. The following content has been produced with a text heavy narrative to deliver the narrative and features of the product.

But that’s not the only way to deliver a silent message…

Semiotics have been used by marketers for decades to subconsciously deliver messages to their audience through social and cultural subconscious constructs. In short, it’s a complex system of sensory experiences and gestures to which we have inflected locally with cultural meaning.

Unlike the Hello Neighbor trailer that relied on text to tell the story, semiotics can be a far more elegant way to make a statement and produce effective content. Of course, the additional benefits of exclusively delivering the narrative of the commercial through semiotics are not only the ability to form an emotional connection between the viewer and your product, but also the ability to distribute your message across language barriers without the need to overdub or re-caption the content.

VW “Old Lady” | 2010 | Netherlands


Here’s a Dutch VW commercial from 2010, delivered silently with no captions until the very end of the advert. The story is told silently; a father takes his son to buy a car from an old lady. Semiotically, that invokes the connotation in Western cultures that the car has been driven slowly and carefully and is unlikely to have engine damage or severe wear and tear on the mechanical parts. This commercial present an humorous antithesis to this common perception, and tells the story solely through visuals. Yes, the music is present, but it doesn’t need to be there.

In short, know your marketing channels and make content that meets the criteria of the platform and its audience. There’s nothing worse than sinking money into a message that no-one will hear. Paul Thomson Digital can help you get your message to your target audience. Check out our Digital Marketing Services for more information on what we can do for your business.


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Take On Me | How Volkswagen market in different territories

Image from the Volkswagen commercial "feeling carefree", used in the Paul Thomson Digital article about marketing in different territories.

Take On Me

How Volkswagen market in different territories

How do VW change their marketing narrative in different territories? Today we’re going to take a look at the way the Volkswagen markets similar cars to a similar age and gender demographic across cultures and countries.

In this case we are looking at males in their mid-30’s, specifically white collar middle class caucasian men.

VW Jetta Commercial | 2013 | USA


In this commercial, VW have decided to focus on traditional American male aspirational values. The protagonist drives the Jetta, beats the bad guys in a race and wins the girl. It’s about excitement and living life to the full. Even the attitude of the main character in the workplace says that he’s more of a ‘work to live’ rather than a ‘live to work’ type. The message is that if you own this car you will live a more thrilling existence.

The creators have also attached music suited to the age group, A-ha’s famous song Take On Me, and produced graphics throughout the video that pay homage to the original music video from the 1980’s. Furthering the link with this iconic song, the commercial references the fact NO ONE can accurately hit the high note at the end. It’s contemporary yet nostalgic.

VW want to convey these lifestyle attributes of the character to make the Jetta appeal to the white collar male demographic between 35-45 because they want their target audience to identify with their product.

VW Polo Commercial | 2012 | United Kingdom


Across the Atlantic the focus is very different. Volkswagen are trying to appeal to the very same age group and social class as the American Jetta advert, but instead of aspirational values they have decided to appeal to our base instincts and motivate the consumer by portraying universal human truths in their commercial.

The story they have decided to tell is that of a father protecting his daughter as she grows from an infant into adult hood. In each scene he is shown to be nurturing and taking care of his child. He shields her from the rain, inflates her armbands at the pool, gives her his jumper when she’s cold, and looks after her when she’s sick. All of these semiotically signal to us that he is a caring father, but more importantly we would want to identify and ascribe those characteristics to ourselves. To further compliment the visuals, VW have used a song that repeats through the chorus “I’ll watch over you”.

Unlike the prominence of the Jetta in the American commercial, the contemporary VW Polo only features at the end of the commercial, forming a book end with the original model from the 1980’s at the beginning of the ad. Volkswagen built this story to ascribe those values to their vehicle; the Polo is safe and you can trust it to protect your family. These commercials show that we need to take into consideration the perceptions and values of the audience when marketing in different territories.

If you’d like to find out more about our digital marketing services and how we can help you speak to your audience you can contact us here.


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