As we previously reported, in the weeks since the coronavirus crisis began, we’ve already seen a slew of trends come and go in advertising. This new supercut video from YouTube creator Sean Haney, who goes by the name Microsoft Sam, pulls together some of these well-trodden techniques in a single film.
The video, titled "Every Covid-19 Commercial is Exactly the Same," compiles footage from spots recently released by numerous brands, including Apple, Budweiser, Chick-Fil-A, Facebook, Fedex, Hyundai, Lincoln, Mazda and many, many more. Cutting together scenes from all the ads, it reveals frame by frame how they’ve all followed a similar template: somber music, a reminder of how the brand has been with the consumer throughout its entire history and that in these “challenging,” “trying,”“uncertain” or “unprecedented” times, while “doors are closed” or “distance between us” has grown, we can still “stay connected” in the “safety of our home.” The brands promise to remain with you, assuring viewers that we can all get through this “together” ( “together,” “together” and “together”), and finally the ads close with rousing music and scenes of people applauding from their windows and homes.
The film follows a spoof ad “Hey. We’re a brand,” which makes a similar critique in the form of a generic coronavirus ad.
On his YouTube post Microsoft Sam wrote, “What's the deal? In reality, many companies have found themselves short on cash, almost overnight. They needed to get a message out—and quick. They asked their teams to throw something together. Since they can't film a new ad because of social distancing, they compiled old stock b-roll footage and found the most inoffensive royalty-free piano track they could find. This, combined with a decade of marketing trends dictated by focus groups and design-by-committee, released a tsunami of derivative, cliche ads all within a week of one another. It's not a conspiracy—but perhaps a sign that it's time for something new.”
Haney is not a full-time YouTube creator but makes videos as a hobby. (His previous compilation of late ‘90s and early aughts tech ads is a trip and shows just how much advertising in that sector has evolved.) His day job is in digital marketing, but he also does freelance work in video editing and content writing. Like other creators right now, the quarantine has given him more time to devote more attention to personal projects, and this idea sprung up while he was working from home. “I don’t watch much cable and started watching tv in the background while I worked,’ he tells Ad Age. “I saw a couple of Twitter memes that made fun of Covid commercials saying ‘We’re here for you.’ That’s when it clicked that they were all so laughably similar and it gave me the idea for the video. The Lexus commercial that said ‘we’re in the people business’ was the first one that jumped to mind when I got the idea for the video.”