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Pre-roll creativity

The video that you had to watch before the video you wanted to watch.

As YouTube announces plans to ditch un-skippable ads in 2018, we take a look at how advertisers have got creative with the much-maligned pre-roll video.

created on Monday 20 Feb 2017

The pre-roll video started to appear in 2007, just as the world was getting the hang of YouTube. Widely accepted as a source of frustration by viewers, the pre-roll delivered something almost unheard of in the online world: a captive audience. For between 15 and 60 seconds, advertisers could talk to audiences safe in the knowledge that their message would (almost) definitely be seen. 

Recent reports indicate that YouTube are ditching un-skippable ads from 2018, and although the video platform isn't the only place to use pre-roll, this announcement could still signal a major shift in the way publishers, advertisers and agencies treat the medium. Here's a collection of some creative pre-roll from the Cannes Lions Archive...
See the full credits in the Cannes  Lions Archive

The Ad Newcastle Brown Ale Made to Prepare You For The Ad We Didn't Make, by Heineken
Bronze Film Lion winner, 2014
The Super Bowl is a big deal in the ad-world. With more than 100 million viewers, the cost of TV spots is pretty high. Newcastle Brown Ale decided to take a stand against expensive airtime and released this cheap pre-roll ad for the Super Bowl ad it wan't to blow the budget on. 

See the full credits in the Cannes Lions Archive
Second Chance, by Business in the Community
Bronze Direct Lion, 2014
The act of skipping is central to this campaign from BITC , which aimed to persuade employers to reconsider their recruitment processes to remove the barriers that prevent ex-offenders getting into work.
See full credits in the Cannes Lions Archive

Anti Pre-roll, by Burger King
Shortlisted for a Cyber Lion, 2014
By filming multiple versions of the same ad, inspired by popular YouTube video searches, Burger King was able to match pre-roll content to viewer's taste, while acknowledging the frustrations of un-skippable pre-roll. 

See the full credits in the Cannes Lions Archive
Skip Ad Festival, by Sony Entertainment Television
Silver Branded Content & Entertainment Lion, 2015
Viewers became judges in this pre-roll music contest inspired by, and promoting 'The Voice' . Would any of these acts impressed you in five seconds?
See the full credits in the Cannes Lions Archive
Unskippable: Family, by Geico
Grand Prix Film Lion, 2015
As pre-roll goes, this film bears many of the same hallmarks of any popular online video: it's a recognisable moment we can all relate to, it's funny and there's a loveable pet doing funny. The 2015 Film jury decided that this 60-second film of a dog eating spaghetti deserved a Grand Prix, and it was a very popular choice. 

Browse more work on the Cannes Lions Archive. 

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