Helping brands tell their story

Ekstasy is a Creative Agency helping brave marketeers and brands conceptualise and produce engaging content and interactive experiences globally

Best Film of the Year
US International Film and Video Festival
Grand Prix - 1st Prize
Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards
Gold World Medal
New York Festivals World’s Best TV & Film
See our works
This is some text inside of a div block.

From the blog

Visit the Blog

Are TV Ads still worth it?

That’s a debatable question, but you know what’s not? Advertising is everywhere. Literally everywhere, try to go from one place to another without getting sold to and I guarantee you can’t. What marketeers have to keep in mind is what is and isn’t avoidable for the consumer. For instance, a lot of OOH content is unavoidable, even if they’re not paying attention, they’re still absorbing it. However what can be avoided for a lot of people is TV ads, so the question arises, should brands still advertise on TV? The answer? Well, I don’t want to ruin the surprise just yet, so let me explain. I think every brand should advertise and produce content, no question about that, and doing it digitally can be done really well. It’s cheaper than TV advertising, more scalable and it’s easier to reach your target audience through digital than TV. As well as this when consumers are online the majority of the time they’re in the mind frame to interact which can be useful for ads with a CTA. However it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, you still need a solid strategy and content to really make a campaign work, adding to this there are thousands and thousands of ads online so cutting through the noise can be a challenge. This is where TV ads can shine, they can not only reach a diverse mass audience (71% of the population) which is awesome for a brand awareness campaign but people trust TV ads. To get an ad on TV it has to meet rules and regulations to make sure it’s suitable for the viewers, and people know this, which means the majority of people trust them. Compare this with online advertising where rules exist but are less strict than TV and you’ll see more people have their guard up. For this example, we’ll ignore the “As seen on TV” products. Also as digital advertising rises in popularity, one would think that TV’s effectiveness would diminish but that’s actually not the case. Looking at the graph below you can see that adding TV advertising to campaigns has actually risen in its effectiveness. As well as this, people spend more time watching television than they do on any other form of media. I don’t need to explain why this is great for brands but I will. If you have a huge audience you’re more likely to gain leads and get people to know you’re brand than if you were to advertise purely online or OOH because you have a larger audience. The more fish you have in a barrel, the more you’re going to hit (70% of TV advertising delivers profitable returns). Now I’ve spoken about how TV can be great for a brand to raise awareness and even generate leads but here’s the golden ticket. Using multiple channels in harmony (TV can increase the effectiveness of campaigns by up to 40%). With a solid strategy behind it campaigns across multiple channels can be twice as effective as opposed to using one channel. Doing this can also move buyers/leads along the buyer’s journey, making them more likely to respond to a CTA and more likely to think about buying your product or service. The analogy I’d use for this would be if someone asked you to build a table with only a hammer, it wouldn’t be very easy, but if someone gave you a whole toolbox it suddenly becomes a lot easier. At the end of the day, not every brand is in the position to advertise on TV but when putting together a marketing plan if it’s not even considered then you’re missing a trick. To answer the question, yes, it is worth it but should your brand use it? Like most things in life…it depends.

If a picture is worth a 1000 words, whats a video worth?

We’ve all heard the expression a picture is worth a thousand words , so what’s a video worth? It’s an interesting question as when you look at a photo your mind wonders about the story behind it and the imagination takes over. However the imagination only has so much to go on from a photo. It’s not so much telling a story worth a thousand words but more letting you create your own without realising it. That’s the power of a photo, only so much is filled in for you. That is not only a blessing though, it can also be a curse. I’m sure many people, myself included, have seen a photograph and begun to put the story together in their head only to wish the photo could tell them more. What lies beyond those edges? Only a few will ever know. You begin to put this fiction together and then want to know reality but can’t. Now you have a story with no end, conclusion or resolution; in other words just unsatisfying. That’s when a photo can’t be enough and that’s where video comes in. When a story is told through video, it’s worth as many words as you like. Videos, whether a commercial or a blockbuster, feed the audience a story scene by scene, frame by frame. It takes you on a journey as opposed to starting it and leaving you to figure out the rest. Don’t get me wrong, video still lets the imagination have some fun but it gives you your answers and in the rare cases in doesn’t, there’s a reason for it. For example, there might be a scene, a character walking up to a supposedly empty room making noise, where the audience begins to ask questions. The imagination answers these questions, a loved one, the family pet, a monster etc. and then they get their answer. The certainty washes over the viewers like a wave, their question has been answered. This is the edge video has over a photo, it crafts its story always giving the audience just enough information but never giving away too much. It usually does this with a setup, confrontation and conclusion. It’s in our nature to need closure and even when a video leaves the viewer on a cliff hanger, it’s different from a photo’s lack of answers. A photo gives no conclusion whereas a cliff hanger gives you a multiple choice ending. Storytelling through video answers, and in a beautiful way. Now stories told through video are not always as described. They can be just as frustrating as photos can be. We’ve all watched a film and it makes no sense.You sit there trying to connect the dots and it just doesn’t add up. This can be even more annoying than trying to work out the story behind a photo because you are being shown this story and it’s trying to provide you answers but they’re not living up to your mind’s expectations. The same goes for a bad ending. The whole film builds to this point and your imagination is doing backflips in your head and then the ‘what just happened’ moment arrives. Your mind had made all these grand endings and raised expectations only for the film to disappoint. Every medium will have its benefits and shortcomings. Thought out and executed carefully a photo can tell an amazing story. Same goes for books, video and any other way people tell stories. It can’t be rushed no matter how hard some people may try, a great story takes time, effort and care. The point of this article was not to slam photos but was to highlight the ability video has over it when telling a story. Let’s take commercials for example, some powerful stories have been told through commercials but the most powerful are videos, not print. Let’s take a recent ad that gained huge attention: the recent Nike ad. There were print versions and a video. While the print makes you think and hints at the story the video does a lot more. It doesn’t just tell one story but many, all the while arousing a number of emotions in the audience. Below are the two ads, what do you think? Every medium will have its benefits and shortcomings. Thought out and executed carefully a photo can tell an amazing story. Same goes for books, video and any other way people tell stories. It can’t be rushed no matter how hard some people may try, a great story takes time, effort and care. The point of this article was not to slam photos but was to highlight the ability video has over it when telling a story. Let’s take commercials for example, some powerful stories have been told through commercials but the most powerful are videos, not print. Let’s take a recent ad that gained huge attention: the recent Nike ad. There were print versions and a video. While the print makes you think and hints at the story the video does a lot more. It doesn’t just tell one story but many, all the while arousing a number of emotions in the audience. In conclusion, if you want to tell a story no matter how big or small, be passionate, take your time and make sure it has a good ending because it doesn’t matter how a story is told, it’s about what has gone into creating the story that makes it what it is. Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

How has advertising changed?

The point of advertising has always been to sell, and advertising has been around since people were trying to sell. So by this logic, one would think all advertising is the same but not quite. Every advert is different, takes a different angle or tries a new technique and advertising has changed massively as times change, as people’s opinions and views change, adverts also change to comply with the masses. In this article, I want to talk about the ways in which advertising has changed. For the sake of consistency, I’ve decided to look at one company’s adverts throughout the years to show the change. So let’s look at how McDonald’s have tried to sell burgers and fries since the ’50s and ’60s. Ignoring the quality (of the ad, not the food) McDonald’s took a very product-focused approach to their ads as many did in these decades. They are trying to sell food after all. Mcdonald’s wanted to show their food to consumers and highlight its quality and value relying on the food itself to get customers as opposed to the brand. Now the 1980s were similar to the ‘70s but slightly different. There were a lot more songs and music and I think they did it for two reasons. It was the ‘80s and to make the ads catchy and stick in people’s minds after they had finished watching which they would remember as they walked past a McDonalds for instance. They still targeted kids but moved their sights onto the whole family, this was done to give McDonald’s a wholesome family image and appeal. In the 1990s the ads still had a similar style and tone to the ’80s but they began to use their mascots a lot more. They had adverts focusing on this range of characters and their adventure. They did this to strengthen their brand identity and to relate to kids. McDonald’s also used more stories in their ads which would continue into the future. These modern ads show the very different way McDonald’s has tried to sell burgers since their first ads. They now focus on the stories behind a McDonald’s as opposed to the food itself. For instance, in earlier ads, the whole video focused on food and why people should eat it, then it shifted to the people and began to experiment in storytelling. Through the 2000s they did more and more storytelling which is almost all they do now. Originally this article wasn’t going to just be about McDonald’s ads but I wanted to show you how advertising has changed. If you look at any ad from the ‘60s it will almost always show the product with narration. That’s boring and people will forget it. With storytelling instead of making a viewer bored it not only captures their attention but it also evokes an emotion which makes an impression. Whether they’ll go and buy your product based on the emotion you envoke is a story for another article. Another strategy they use along with storytelling is humour, for the same reason. It makes the audience laugh thus making it stick in their minds, which is the first step. So before you go here is one last example, one of my personal favourites, to hopefully give you a laugh and make you crave a McDonald’s.

The role of music in storytelling

Before the days of barely enjoying a movie on your phone with headphones on, there was no colour and no sound. I know right, a movie without music, a terrible thought considering the two art forms are made for each other. Cinemas originally had a pianist making the music up as he went along to go with the film. As the 1920’s went on sound was introduced to film and ‘talkies’ were made, but in 1929 The Great Depression started and the industry came to a halt. When the film industry began picking up again filmmakers realised the impact music could have on a viewer, every score or song in a film is there to create an emotion and it’s done in a huge variety of ways. For instance a horror film’s intention is to scare the audience. Now a basic horror film might use sharp strings, quick changes in pitch or volume and have a dramatic build up to do this and sometimes it works like in Jaws  or Psycho . However these films were innovators and these types of scores have now become clichéd and worn out. Audiences evolve very quickly and catch onto these techniques and can tell what’s coming, so when an audience evolves so do the filmmakers. What some films did (which I love) is having a juxtaposition between a scene and the music, who could forget Huey Lewis and the News in American Psycho , Stuck in the Middle in Reservoir Dogs  or Singing in the Rain in A Clockwork Orange. The fact something horrifying is happening on screen with a happy song in the back plays with the audience and confuses them with two contrasting elements making them even more horrified as a result. Mark Perkins, the Creative Director of W communications, said Imagine Jaws without the music. There is not much that’s terrifying about a crudely made rubber shark, the fear comes from the music, which is a trigger in our senses that something awful is about to happen to the person splashing about happily in the water Music in film can have a huge array of effects on the audience and a good film will create these emotions in their audience in a unique way without just having plain old happy with happy and sad with sad. A great example of this is in The Graduate  (spoilers!) where our main character ‘rescues’ his kinda sorta girlfriend from her wedding. They run away seemingly happily together and board a bus. The audience now expects a run of the mill happy ending but then The Sound of Silence  starts playing (if you haven’t heard it do it now) which is a tremendously sad song which is odd considering this is meant to be a happy moment. Both characters are smiling wildly when first boarding the bus but the scene lingers on as the song plays, at first the audience may be confused considering what they’re expecting. Then their wild smiles begin the fade and the song choice becomes clear as the weight of the character’s actions becomes clear to them and the audience at the same time with the song as a subtle foreshadow. With music playing such a big role in film it’s no surprise there are some film scores and themes which are so deeply related to a film it’s impossible to think of one without the other. Think Indiana Jones , Ghostbusters  and Rocky , you hear the first few seconds of them and the films spring into mind almost immediately. That’s another power music has over an audience, it gives them an idea about the film. You can tell the tone of Indiana Jones in the first 10 seconds of the score, adventure. The Creative Director of FleishmanHillard Fishburn, Kev O’Sullivan, said A surefire way to appreciate the value of music to watch iconic unspoken scenes – preferably of horror or romance – on mute. Immediately, the image loses a tremendous amount of impact. Psycho or Steel Magnolias are handy examples.And in fact, you can totally decontextualise or recontextualise any scene with different music – I refer you to the legion of comedy YouTubers who have transformed films like Mrs Doubtfire and Mary Poppins into thrillers. However the score doesn’t just give you a better idea of the film but also a better idea of a character through the choice of music in their scenes. A scene that nails this is an early scene in Star Wars: A New Hope  where Luke stares out over the horizon. The scene has a unique score to accompany it (as opposed to the normal Star Wars theme) called ‘Binary Sunsets’ in which the viewer learns so much more about our main character from his expressions and the accompanying score than from dialogue. Music in film has come a long way from a pianist in a theatre, now it’s one of the key elements. You see I explained what music does in film but not why it is so crucial for the audience. Music for the most part is somewhat in the background of the audience’s mind when they watch a movie because they’re so caught up in what is happening on screen, but that serves a purpose. While the audience is focused on the visuals music subtly guides the audience’s emotions as they watch. It also amplifies the emotions the audience are already feeling, an exciting scene will have exciting music to increase that feeling and captivate an audience. A film that I think nails this on the head is The Italian Job. Its score is just wonderful capturing the exact mood of any scene and conveying it perfectly. From the opening  scene driving through the mountains with smooth music playing throwing the audience off what is about to happen, to the chase  (see 4:54 for music) through the streets, finally almost getting away  and then the final cliffhanger . The famous scene on the cliff is great for many reasons but one is the majority of the scene has no music keeping the audience on edge and when music does play it is short, subtle and effective. Brilliant from start to finish. There’s thousands of great ways to use sound in film but the same can be said for silence. Think of No Country for Old Men and the amount of tense  and terrifying  scenes in that with no music, and what does this do? The same thing. It increases the emotions the audience are already feeling. After the audience has been introduced to the psychopath Anton they’re put on edge as soon as they see him. Unlike most killers in movies these days Anton is quiet and understated, all whilst committing these terrible acts, the sound choice reflecting this. This lack of music makes every scene he’s in feel more real and more terrifying as a result. Sound as a whole whether it’s soundtracks, songs or silence will always have been chosen for a specific reason and that reason might be obvious  and sometimes you might need to think a little but there will always be a reason. My media studies teacher once told me if I took this subject I would never be able to watch a film again without analysing it and at the time I thought that was nonsense, but she was right. Now without even meaning to when I see a film I ask myself, why did they do that, what does that mean or why did they choose this music with this scene. So next time you’re watching a film and hear music starts to play, have a think about it.