Back To Basics: Product Demonstrations

Product demonstration. Two words that seem to strike fear into the fashionable-trouser region of the modern advertising creative. But why? It it because they're seen as uncreadivv? Maybe it's because product demonstrations have become inextricably linked with really bad and unbelievable product demonstrations? Take the Vanish ads for instance - fake kitchen, shiny lady with Vanish, getting impossible stains out of white t-shirts, another lady looks on, clearly a hired moron, amazed. As a viewer you just don't believe it. But that's the bad side of product demonstrations.

Like lots of other really worthwhile techniques you can use in advertising, you shouldn't let really bad product demonstrations make you think all product demonstrations are bad.
When done well, and in the right circumstances, for the right product, product demonstrations can be very effective. And they can be interesting, entertaining and compelling too, the things that you need to help a consumer be interested, watch, and remember.

The current kings of the product demonstration are Apple. They do consistently good advertising for their products that show us things about them. Whether it's how an iPhone works, or just how thin a Mac Air is. And the thing is, they're always so unassuming and polite, we don't even know that we're watching a product demonstration. We just think 'wow that's clever'.And that's the beauty of really genuinely good advertising, you come out of thinking how good the product or service is, not how good the ad is.

The second part of their success is that they have their tone-of-voice spot on - the way they do the demonstrations - so every telly spot or print ad also contributes to how nice we feel about Apple.

As our grumpy friend the Ad Contrarian has said in the past, Apple is a great brand that people always aspire to matching, I've seen it wheeled out as a great example of brand-building many times. But their success has been built on great products, and good advertising that demonstrates those products with a strong tone-of-voice. Ad people always talk about the 1984 Apple ad as one of the great ads, but that is an ad-mans ad - an ad that makes you think 'what a great ad'. The real business-builders - the brand-builders - are the everyday ads for the products.

Product demonstrations don't have to be uninteresting, or uncreative, or unbelievable. They can be a great short-cut in communication. They can quickly and honestly dispel myths and show product advantages, they can be powerful pieces of communication that change the fortunes of business. And when you see one done well, its a sign that behind there somewhere were some advertising people who did their research into the product properly. And just as importantly they were confident enough in their own abilities to do something simple, or get out of the way of the product, and not try to over-execute some creative opus.

Here's a few examples of product demonstrations done well, if you can think of any others, please let me know...

Apple iPhone ads

Blend tec Will It Blend Website and Videos

Smart Car

Pepsi The Pepsi Challenge

Wendy's Where's The Beef


VW Snowplough

Lurpak Baked Potato


  1. The pepsi one made me laugh. 'over 50%' is hardly an overwhelming stat. Totally agree about product demo's though. I bet ant & dec are doing wonders for nintendo.

  2. Two of my favourites from way back when:

    Simple ideas, nice executions.

  3. Great post! I love a good product demonstration. One that sticks (no pun intended) in my memory was the Araldite ad with a man glued to a board and hanging from a helicopter (could have been a plane) anyway I think that was in the late 80's and then years later they ran the same ad but with a very old man hanging from the board with a caption like, 'still going strong' - simple and effective.

  4. Great examples, thanks for the links.

  5. Have you ever seen an in-store product demonstration though?? A truly frightening experience no matter how good the product.

  6. Have you ever seen an in-store product demonstration though?? A truly frightening experience no matter how good the product.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.