Digital Marketing

How Commercial Animation Took Center Stage in Modern Marketing

November 10, 2023

Animation has evolved from novelty to digital marketing services essential. Learn how animated TV ads, viral social posts, mascots, and CGI revolutionized branding. Discover tips like choosing styles tailored to your brand identity and audience. Read this comprehensive blog by digital marketing experts on using animation for effective marketing.

Animation has evolved from novelty to essential, now playing a starring role in digital marketing services campaigns. This eye-catching medium offers unlimited creative possibilities for brands to connect with consumers in unforgettable ways. 

But how exactly did animation make the leap from Saturday morning cartoons to Madison Avenue boardrooms? 

Read on to learn the key developments that put commercial animation on center stage.

The Early Years of Marketing Animation 

Animation and advertising first crossed paths in the early 1900s when J.R. Bray's studio began producing short animated films and spots. This included animations for brands like Puck Soap in the 1910s. 


But it wasn't until the iconic bouncing ball singalong shorts of the 1920s and 30s that animation started becoming a force in marketing. Walt Disney even created early animated ads for companies like Johnson & Johnson. 

Still, at this point, animations were seen as filler more than stand-alone ads.

  • Mid-Century Milestones for TV Advertising 

The rise of television in the 1950s and 60s ushered in a golden era of animation marketing, cementing its place at the center of campaigns. Brands seeking to capture consumer attention in the crowded TV landscape turned to animation's eye-catching appeal. 

  • Coca-Cola's classic 1971 [Hilltop commercial] with people from all cultures singing together became an iconic piece of animated advertising. The ad perfectly encapsulated Coke's message of hope and unity.


  • Cereal brands realized cartoons could help them directly target children. Characters like Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam became memorable brand mascots through TV animation.


  • McDonald's revolutionized marketing by using their animated [Ronald McDonald character] as their chief brand ambassador.


This "Golden Age of Animation" paved the way for widespread adoption in marketing campaigns moving forward.

  • The Rise of Adult Animation in the 1980s and 90s

While animation marketing had focused primarily on child audiences, the 1980s and 90s saw a shift towards using the medium to target adults as well. The explosion of cable TV with channels like MTV, Comedy Central, and Cartoon Network made "adult" animation more mainstream.

Legendary animator Ralph Bakshi produced the provocative [Fritz the Cat] in 1972, proving animation's storytelling capacities beyond family fare. And The Simpsons, Beavis and Butt-head, and South Park showed primetime animations aimed at adults that could be hit. 


Brands jumped on this trend, realizing animation's potential to capture the attention and imagination of consumers of all ages in bold new ways:

  • Budweiser's iconic [Frogs] ad in 1995 showed how humor and adult themes could make animated ads stand out.


  • The California Milk Processor Board launched their [Got Milk?] campaign in 1993, featuring animated spokespersons in funny, trouble-filled situations, targeting adults and kids alike. 


  • Animation Goes Digital - The Rise of CGI

Traditional hand-drawn animation has historically been used for marketing and ads. But by the 1990s and 2000s, computer-generated imagery (CGI) animation was on the rise.

Platforms like Silicon Graphics computers made CGI animation possible for a broader range of creators. And the innovative CGI film Toy Story showed animators the storytelling possibilities with 3D graphics.


Brands jumped on the CGI bandwagon as faster production and more realistic graphics offered new creative possibilities:

  • Coca-Cola's lovable polar bears became an iconic brand image through their popularity [in the early 2000s. CGI allowed more dynamic characters.
  • The GEICO Gecko debuted in 2000 and became a hit brand mascot. CGI enabled smoother animation and more expressive characters than traditional techniques.
  • Allstate Insurance launched its integrated [Mayhem Commercials] campaign in 2010 using a trouble-making CGI spokesman.

The Digital Age - Animation Goes Viral

The rise of broadband internet and social media opened up new possibilities for eye-catching animation in digital marketing services. Short animated spots and GIFs were perfect for grabbing attention in the information overload age.

Platforms like YouTube and Facebook enabled animations to spread rapidly. And sites like GoAnimate gave amateurs access to create their own simple animations.


Smart digital marketing experts capitalized on this trend, using animation for digital-age promotions:

  • Blendtec captured viral attention with their [Will it Blend?] YouTube campaign destroying household objects in their blenders. The absurd animated shorts were widely shared.
  • Charmin's animated [Enjoy the Go] music videos with dancing toilet paper rolls became social media sensations. Their quirky animated content gained worldwide visibility.
  • Spotify launched numerous animated campaigns letting users share customized recaps of their streaming habits. The clever graphics grabbed shares across platforms.

Modern Marketing Animation Continues to Evolve 

Today, the animation is ubiquitous in the digital marketing services field. As technology continues advancing, brands find new frontiers like interactive 360° video and augmented reality animation to immerse audiences.

Platforms like Adobe Character Animator enable easier 2D character generation. And affordable services on sites like Fiverr allow anyone to access professional animation. 

Leading examples show animation's ongoing marketing power: 

  • Apple's [Share Your Gifts] animated Christmas ad struck an emotional chord with its storytelling.
  • Facebook's playful animated [Metaverse] teasers generate excitement and visibility for their emerging technologies.

Animation has cemented itself as an essential storytelling medium, allowing brands to connect with target audiences in memorable ways suitable for any platform. 

As technology evolves, this versatile digital marketing services tool will continue taking the spotlight.


Best Practices for Integrating Animation 

When preparing to add animation into marketing and advertising, digital marketing experts should follow certain best practices to maximize results; 

First, carefully match the animation style to your brand identity, values, and target audience. 

For instance, minimalist motion graphics may better suit a modern, tech-focused company, while cute characters appeal more to children's brands. 

Test different styles through A/B experiments and get feedback before fully integrating across campaigns.

It's also wise to initially start small in scope before expanding the use of animation. Run localized tests and pilots first, using metrics like view-through rates to gauge performance. This evidence-driven approach prevents overinvesting in animation, that proves ineffective. 

Working with specialized animation professionals and digital marketing experts like Consagous Technologies will also ensure the highest quality content. Their expertise smooths the production process.

Once up and running, constantly optimize animation marketing based on performance data. Closely monitor metrics like views, completion rate, clicks, and conversions to refine strategies accordingly. Animation needs to align with wider business goals, not just creative aims. 

With deliberate testing and analytics, data reveals how best to utilize animation as part of a cohesive cross-channel strategy.


The Future of Animation Marketing

As technology continues advancing, creatives are pushing the boundaries of animation marketing:

  • Interactive and Immersive Formats-

Augmented reality and 360° video allow more interactive and immersive experiences

  • Expanded Applications of AI-

AI-assisted animation speeds up workflow and offers new creative possibilities

  • Retargeting in Cross-Media Campaigns-

Creatives look for more ways to retarget consumers across devices 

  • Hybrid of Animation and Live-Action

Brands blend animation and live footage for unique aesthetics

These innovations show how animation will continue evolving to play a starring role in digital marketing services.


From its humble beginnings over a century ago to today's digital age, animation has cemented itself as an essential medium, allowing digital marketing service providers to capture consumer imagination across demographics and media platforms. 

Through memorable characters, compelling stories, and eye-catching styles, smart marketers realize animation's unique power to connect with audiences and communicate brand values. Technological innovations in digital marketing services will only expand possibilities moving forward.

While animation offers many benefits, some challenges can arise in implementation:

  • Higher production costs compared to static graphics or photography
  • Lengthy development timeframe requiring advance planning
  • Need for testing and optimization to maximize results
  • Importance of matching style and tone to your brand voice.

Careful strategy and working with experienced animation digital marketing experts help overcome these hurdles. Animation remains an unparalleled medium for capturing viewer imagination.

At Consagous Technologies, a leading digital marketing company, our animation experts help clients assess if animation is the right fit and how to maximize ROI across platforms. 

Contact us today to explore how custom-animated content can boost your next marketing campaign.