GIFs have been around for a long time, but for brands, the fun is just getting started. They’ve been on Facebook for years, Twitter allows them on its native video player, and companies like Giphy and Tumblr are raking in the cash by making branded GIFs for companies.
In other words, GIFs are going to be a big part of the future of marketing.
While these looping clips are ostensibly silly, some brands have had the marketing acumen to see that they have some amazing potential. After all, we all love images, and we all love videos—and GIFs are like their perfect, shareable love child.
As Michael Peggs, CEO of Marccx Media, says, “So many studies have shown that captivating imagery leads to better engagement. If you can interact with those images, even better. Branded GIFs are the perfect combination of content marketing and interactive communication.”
Here are five brands that have turned GIFs into an artform.
Get your Schwarzeneger impression ready. With a new Terminator movie, Terminator Genisys, out, the marketing blitz is on. And there’s a new tool the previous Terminator ad teams never had: GIFs. According to Adweek, Paramount, the studio behind the film, asked artists to create six different GIFs based on famous moments from the original film. As you can see from this page on Giphy, it did a pretty bang-up job.
Because of these GIFs, younger folks who might not have seen the original Schwarzeneger flick get an artistic introduction to the series’ aesthetic, while old fans get a nostalgia trip down memory lane. Mission complete.
2. DiGiorno Pizza
DiGiorno doesn’t just have a hunch that GIFs make for great marketing—it has solid proof. “We were happily surprised that when we started to do GIFs, they got even higher engagement,” said Luke Oppliger, director of social content at Resource/Ammirati, in an interview with Adweek. “We typically get a few hundred retweets and favorites, but we are seeing GIFs in the thousands.”
This upswing in social sharing makes sense. Really, would you rather have a static post or this:
The difference in shares says it all.
3. Adult Swim
Adult Swim, the notoriously weird late-night TV channel, capitalized on Twitter’s new GIF feature by creating a trippy animation that features many of the most popular characters in its line-up.
If you following Adult Swim on Twitter, then you’re definitely familiar with the cartoons that are warped in this GIF—seeing them all together is a treat for the channel’s fans. That’s why it makes sense that, according to Social Bro, this Tweet got more retweets than seven of Adult Swim’s eight previous tweets combined. Adult Swim didn’t end there. Take, for example, this tweet featuring surrealist comedians Tim and Eric.
Sorry for the nightmares. It might not be my style, but you can’t deny Adult Swim makes some damn good GIFs.
If you’ve ever seen a group of preteens, there’s a good chance that they’re all clutching a Frappucino in one hand and an iPhone in the other. Starbucks combined these two loves by creating 21—count ’em, 21—GIFs about its blended beverage. Without a doubt, these GIFs scream “hipster youth.” I feel cooler just looking at them.
According to Adweek, these GIFs are available on the mobile app Popkey and on Starbucks’ social media channels. Of course, just as the company intended, they’ve already spread like wildfire across the Internet.
As Deacon Webster, chief creative officer and founder of Walrus, told me, “When there’s a GIF somewhere on your screen, it’s hard not to look at it. And because GIFs have a certain lo-fi and hand-made feeling, they’re less off-putting than more slick corporate messaging, which engenders more positivity with audiences who don’t love seeing ads in their social streams.”
It can be hard to make something like the human body or sustainable energy interesting for a general audience. Thankfully, General Electric knows how to make the important stuff seem cool. How? With GIFs, of course.
GE has a Tumblr that’s chock full of educational content. Its popular tags are along the lines of #SpringBreakIt, #6secondscience, and #BadAssMachines.
The image above showcases the company’s LEAP jet engine, which improves fuel efficiency by reducing the weight of the aircraft. At the end of the post there is a link to get more information about the invention on GE’s excellent blog, GE Reports.
GE has even created an entire website that is dedicated to helping millenials learn more about science in the only way that they know how—through emojis and GIFs. Surprise: It’s called emojiscience.
Of course, GIFs aren’t always the answer for brands desperate to drum up some social engagement. Webster feels that they’re a great tool, but only in certain circumstances: “If done well, and directed to the right audience, sure, they can absolutely be effective—but they’re not appropriate for everyone. If brands are jumping on the bandwagon, saying ‘What can we do with these GIFs the kids are raving about?’ they’re probably going to be in trouble.”
That’s an important point: It wouldn’t make much sense for, say, a major bank to start posting emoji-laden GIFs of bankers drawing up mortgages. Actually, that sounds kind of amazing. Where you at, Goldman Sachs?