What You Can Learn from 5 of Our Favorite Videos of the Past Year

In our line of work, we watch countless hours of video, but sometimes we see one that really sticks with us. The ones we remember often have similar characteristics – they’re creative, they’re both affective and effective, and their message is crystal clear.

Let’s take a look at some of our favorite examples and talk about why they’re so successful:

Toyota: Good Odds


What Stands Out:

First and foremost, the filmmaking in this video is exceptional. It’s subtle yet powerful and creative.

There are a lot of small details that make this video so successful at communicating its message. For example, the doubting look the boy skier gives to this commercial’s heroine at 23 seconds reminds us without words how many people underestimated her Olympic potential.

At times, the imagery has the intimacy of a home movie, but as our athlete’s skills grow, the commercial becomes a cinematic, larger-than-life success story that tugs at the heartstrings.

The perspective of the director, Aoife McArdle, a rare woman among Super Bowl ad veterans, likely contributes to the uniqueness of the piece as well. Discussing her process in an interview from 2018, McArdle said, “I’m a visual person, so I always start with images and play out stories in my head from that angle. I just try to stay true to my own instincts and never veer away from what I like.”

Indeed, it’s easy to feel McArdle’s love of imagery in this episodic piece. There’s also a sensitivity to the video that gives it a universal power. It’s not just about a woman or disabled athletes — though it does a great job of empowering both; instead, it celebrates what we can accomplish or overcome if we work hard enough.

Rapha: Riding is the Answer


What Stands Out:

If you had to use one word to describe this video, it would be authentic. It simply looks real.

This is accomplished with a handheld camera and visuals that look candid, as opposed to looking created on a storyboard or script. It has the air of a documentary, where you feel like you’re getting an honest look into the day-to-day life of a group of Los Angeles residents.

The piece focuses on the joy we can get out of the simple things, like using your bike as a tool to escape a congested urban area and breathe in some fresh air.

The video appears to be randomly shot, but this behind-the-scenes featurette (shown below) shows all of the careful planning that went into making this video a success. You can see the various techniques and equipment used to capture these shots — and how much of it was in fact carefully planned.

The Container Store: Unexplained Disappearance


What Stands Out:

This video by The Container Store is highly effective in its simplicity. Who hasn’t searched through a kitchen drawer, unable to find that one specific utensil? The characters in the piece and their relationship also add a dose of relatable neurosis and humor.

It also has a brilliant misdirect, having us think of space as “outer space” at first, and revealing the true surprise meaning at the end.

Apple: Selfies on iPhone X

What Stands Out:

This Super Bowl spot does a lot with a little.

The video consists of nothing else but admittedly great looking selfies paired with a classic Muhammad Ali speech, and yet it is incredibly effective and moving.

Playing off of the vanity we usually associate with selfies, this ad instead flips the perspective to glorifying the self. It highlights the individuality in each person’s face, creating a very humanistic and personable piece.

This is a particularly unique video as well since it was all created via editing. It’s made completely from still images, and the rhythm of the piece is perfectly timed to one of the greatest expressions of self-confidence ever.

It’s a unique study in how a video presented to a massive audience can still be simple if the concept is strong.

The New York Times: The Truth Is Worth It: Rigor


What Stands Out:

Similar to the iPhone piece in that it’s created with editing, this video tells a visual story using only paper documents.

Immediately after watching this piece, you can’t help but think of how similar it feels to movies that focus on investigative reporting, like All the President’s Men and Spotlight. By using graphics and quickly cutting between shots, the video creates a captivating narrative about how much work and effort goes into investigative journalism.

What Can You Take Away?

If there’s one thing that you should take away from these videos, it’s that they’re all relatively simple in their own way. Some, like the Rapha video, are clearly higher budget — but the concept itself is still simple.

While a big budget can be helpful at times, it’s not necessary to make a great video. What it all comes down to is your concept behind the video, the clarity of your message, strong art direction and planning. These elements are at the core of any successful video.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you create a successful video, contact us today. We’ve helped many businesses put together effective videos based around the principles outlined above and are recognized as a top Video Production Company on DesignRush. Best yet, we promise to get back to you within the hour.

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What You Can Learn from 5 of Our Favorite Videos of the Past Year