Video marketing is so commonplace now that it’s hard to imagine a world without it. No commercials, no YouTube ads, no brand awareness campaigns or vine-styled content going viral on social media. And yet there was a time when the very first video advertising was actually the first and all brand new.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at some of the most significant videos that left their mark on us, changing the world of marketing as we know it while establishing trends that are still relevant today.

1. Bulova, 1941

It’s hard to imagine a time where we didn’t have to set through fifteen minutes of commercials for every hour of TV (or, you know, where we didn’t have a TV), but Bulova was the brand that gave us the first.

In 1941, the Bulova watch company broadcast a brief 10-second ad during a Yankees game. It was in black and white, with a watch face overlaid onto the outline of the United States while a male voice stated: “America runs on Bulova time.”

This short brand awareness campaign is unrecognizable by today’s standards, but at the time it was groundbreaking. They only spent $4 to snag the honor of the world’s first video advert, and they started a trend that could never be stopped.

What We Can Learn From This Video

  • Reach your audience where they’re most likely to be engaged
  • Brand awareness is exceptionally valuable and a valid goal for video ads
  • Taking the risk to do something new can pay off

2. Apple, 1984

You know we couldn’t write this post without featuring the first ad that created Super Bowl Ads ads we know and love them today.

In the early 1980s, Apple created a commercial specifically designed for the Super Bowl announcing their new Macintosh computers. This was a show-stopping ad, with heightened drama and a lot of storytelling. This was one of the first ads that demanded that you stop and pay attention, and it ushered in an era of insane Super Bowl commercials that are almost as fun to watch (if not more so) than the game itself.

What We Can Learn From This Video

  • Using all elements of a video for heightened storytelling– including color scheme and music– can make a video a showstopper
  • Creativity can be rewarded
  • Building anticipation with simple copywriting is highly effective

3. South Park, 1995

These days, everyone wants to create the next viral video. That’s all thanks to this 1995 Christmas short video, which was intended to be a video greeting card for friends and family that went viral in a matter of weeks.

We’ve since seen viral videos come from all industries and in all shapes and sizes, and people are exceptionally excited to share content that’s the Next Big Thing.

(Note: there’s some NSFW language in the clip below.)

What We Can Learn From This Video

  • Seasonal content can do exceptionally well
  • Storytelling is always a valuable asset to keep users engaged
  • If you create relevant, interesting content your audience wants to see, it can take off and develop a life of its own.

4. Nike’s Ronaldinho Touch of Gold

In 2005, Nike’s video featuring footballer Ronaldinho became the first YouTube video to hit 1 million views on the platform. The video features the athlete being given new Nike shoes in a golden case and trying them on for the first time before kicking the soccer ball all the way across the field.

Though clearly marketing material, it also felt authentic in a way that many other sportswear commercials never really have. He puts the shoes on and gets right to work, making some impressive goals that would make anyone jealous.

What We Can Learn From This Video

  • Authenticity (or perceived authenticity) is valuable
  • Influencer marketing can work wonders if you connect with someone your audience is invested in
  • Sometimes creating a brand image is the best way to promote your actual product

5. Dove Evolution

Dove was one of the first brands to run an extended organic video that took the world by storm with their Evolution campaign. This campaign showcased how makeup and photoshop create unrealistic standards of beauty, and it resonated with women all over the world, who shared it on a widespread basis.

This campaign– which had very little to do with Dove itself– went viral and generated a global discussion. It was shared for years afterward, and it’s still talked about today. Why? Because it was something that was important to the audience, and it was a little controversial, and a good bit shocking.

Even though Dove’s products weren’t featured, that didn’t mean they didn’t benefit. Instead, this was an exceptional brand awareness campaign for them, and caring about real women of all shapes and sizes and appreciating their unique beauty became a central part of their branding. This is still true today, and they regularly launch video campaigns along these lines.

What We Can Learn From This Video

  • Opting for ethical content without centering your brand can still do wonders for your brand
  • Create content that your audience cares about
  • Emotional messages perform well

6. Will It Blend

Will It Blend was one of the first big YouTube campaigns created by brands that went viral, and their campaign has lasted for more than ten years now. The premise was exceedingly simple: a quirky scientist would stick random non-food items into the Blendtec to see if it would actually blend. The answer is always yes.

The first video blended Marbles, and ever since they’ve had the same quirky scientist blending everything from iPhones to hockey pucks. It’s entertaining, and it demonstrates the obvious value of the product. Most blenders have trouble tackling frozen strawberries, after all, and this one is doing us all a favor by reducing a Justin Bieber c.d. into rubble.

What We Can Learn From This Video

  • You can still think outside the box for product videos
  • Demonstrating product value is exceptionally important
  • Consistency in ad campaigns will take you far

7. Old Spice, 2010

The Old Spice Man has been amusing viewers for almost a decade, which is crazy to believe. The Man Your Man Could Smell Like is highly entertaining and was getting great results, but they really knocked it out of the park when they created a response campaign. Users could request messages on Twitter, and Old Spice would respond to a few with The Old Spice Man on video, talking directly to that user.

This was the first campaign that really took personalization and interaction with users to the next level, and it had users clambering to get their chance at a video made just for them.

What We Can Learn From This Video

  • Users love a legitimate brand interaction
  • Personalization was becoming– and has now big– a bigger trend in video marketing
  • Unique characters as brand icons can build excellent brand awareness
  • People don’t want to just feel like they’re interacting with a customer service rep; they enjoy feeling like the brand is a bigger-than-self entity

Conclusion: So Now What?

Video marketing has changed drastically since that first Bulova commercial, but even with new features coming out at a rapid pace, there are some things that have stayed consistent.

An importance on brand name and an understanding of your audience has always been prevalent, and that will only continue. Storytelling has also redefined the video marketing industry, and this is something that’s here to stay.

There’s something else that we’ve seen in recent years: your video campaign needs to be able to scale and be relevant to the largest number of audience members possible. Today we have the resources to run segmented campaigns that appeal to multiple audience niches while still employing all the classic lessons that helped make video marketing great.

Looking for ways to scale your video marketing efforts and create more relevant, digestible video content for your different audiences? Check out Shakr’s video templates here.