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Advertising is mostly annoying, but every now and then there are spots that are good. Prof. Henning Patzner from the HFF Munich told us what makes a good commercial and why a chicken as the main actor sometimes helps.

By: Julia Göring

Status: 08/01/2018

The embarrassingly bogus street surveys in Fielmann advertising or the model who pretends to be parship now - sometimes advertising is really annoying. Every now and then there are also good spots. But when is a commercial actually good? We wanted to know that from Prof. Henning Patzner.

For many years he was a copywriter at the Jung von Matt agency in Hamburg and worked as managing director for creation at Serviceplan Campaign in Munich. Today he is Creative Director and Trainer for Creativity & Innovation. And he loves advertising. Good advertisement. He passes on his passion to the students at the University of Television and Film Munich. There you will learn to recognize, analyze and discuss good commercials and of course how to develop and produce them yourself. Because the advertising industry offers young filmmakers great opportunities to work creatively and innovatively in good jobs.

In his opinion, whether a commercial is good depends on the perspective from which you are asking this question. The client thinks the spot is good if it increases sales. But other things count for the viewer.

1. A good commercial should be emotional

According to Professor Patzner, the current trend is emotional commercials. They often hit us right in the heart, may even make us sad and thoughtful at first, but release us with a positive feeling, of course thanks to the brand or product being advertised. Such a commercial is important to us and therefore stays in our head. The best example from Germany is the EDEKA Christmas commercial "Heimkommen".

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EDEKA Christmas clip - #come home

The British department store John Lewis has been relying on emotional commercials for a long time. And it works. The British now expect to see a new emotional commercial from John Lewis every Christmas.

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John Lewis & Partners Christmas Ad 2018 - #EltonJohnLewis 🎹

2. A good commercial should be smart

Intelligent commercials impress the customer. They have to fit well with the product or brand in question. In the case of intelligent commercials, something is often not advertised flatly and directly, but the advertisers think outside the box and find, for example, a metaphor for the advantages of their product. One example of this is the Mercedes commercial with the chickens. The content of the commercial has nothing to do with the actual product, but still perfectly presents its advantages. It is also characteristic here that the product itself cannot be seen or only briefly. Chickens in particular seem to be popular as advertising media for many companies.

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Mercedes-Benz “Chicken” MAGIC BODY CONTROL TV commercial

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Steady Feathers: LG G2 - The Most Extreme Camera Ever #GoLizzy

3. Good advertising is sometimes blatant

It sounds strange at first, but a commercial is good if it's gross. For example, it can be crazy, it can be provocative or daring, it can surprise us or you ask yourself: Is it even allowed to do that? What these spots have in common is that they will be talked about. This is how they work and spread.

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Fuck the poor?

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K-Fee advertising

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Stop food speculation: Put speculators in their place!

4. Good advertising is target group specific

It is not always possible for the advertiser to address only one specific target group. Because if you tailor a commercial to a single target group, you might exclude another. Nevertheless, it often makes sense to advertise specifically for specific target groups, because the chance that the commercial will be well received is significantly greater if it is aimed at a specific target group. The target group can be limited by age, for example. So also in the example from Microsoft with the title "Child of the 90s". Almost everyone who was a child in the 1990s probably feels transported back to their childhood through this spot. It addresses the emotions of this specific target group and arouses their attention.

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Child of the 90s | Internet Explorer

5. Successful commercials are marketed

It is increasingly important for advertisers to position and market their spots well. The commercials are supposed to spread like wildfire over the Internet in video platforms and via social media. They are supposed to go viral. But the advertisers don't leave everything to chance. You hire special agencies to ensure that the spots are shared, rated and commented on as often as possible. One speaks of "viral seeding". An example in which this concept worked perfectly is the Evian commercial from 2013. It now has almost 120 million clicks. Another plus for this commercial: the cute babies. Children, animals, sex, and celebrities always work in advertising.

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Evian: Baby & Me

The examples show that there are not only annoying and bad advertising, but also really well thought-out spots. They are fun, stimulate us to think, inform and open up new perspectives. But there is no one golden way to perfect advertising. If a commercial even meets several of the criteria mentioned, then it is certainly quite good. Like the commercial "Moonjourney" by students at the HFF Munich.

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Advertising at the HFF Munich

Students of all subjects at the HFF Munich can optionally take the field of advertising as part of their main studies. However, it is not possible to apply for advertising only. In lectures, seminars, workshops and excursions, students learn everything about advertising. The contents of the courses are for example:

  • Structures of an advertising agency
  • Excursions to advertising film productions, creative agencies, digital forges, etc.
  • Digital media and advertising
  • Development of a commercial
  • Idea generation methods in advertising
  • Copywriting in advertising
  • Pitch and presentation in advertising
  • Storytelling in commercials
  • Casting in advertising
  • Direction and shooting in advertising
  • Cut in advertising
  • Music and sound design in advertising
  • Mail effects in advertising

You can find more information about advertising at the HFF Munich here.
Young filmmaker Sebastian Linda has also made several commercials. Skateboarding is his favorite subject. You can see short films on the subject of skating and other works by him in Campus Cinema and on his homepage.