The Power of Animation to Teach Lessons in Times of Crisis

In pursuit of tap-worthy content

Instagram Stories and IGTV channels are essential marketing platforms for brands targeting digital and mobile-first generations. But if marketers stay too in the weeds of their data, they stand to forget the most important function of either IGTV or an Instagram 'Story'—to tell a story. It's right in the name, yet so easy to stray away from.

2020 has, in one gross understatement, been unkind. With global problems ranging from the January and February fires in Australia, to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the recent anti-racism movement, brands must infuse social media responses with authenticity or risk being roasted or altogether "canceled." Brands can utilize Instagram's wildly popular video platforms as a relevant sounding board with an already engaged audience, leveraging them as a space to reinforce the values, beliefs and actions of their brand.

At the same time that this timely communication became even more vital, the rise of Covid-19 stalled any live-action content brands hoped to produce for their messaging. As we know, sets were closed throughout the spring, and are only beginning to address safe guidelines for productions to come. The re-emergence of shoots may be staggered for an even longer period of time, drawing out the work-from-home experience. With so much to address, how can brands cut through the noise and promote impactful messaging?

Thinking outside the box of seconds-long video clips, text graphics and sponsored posts, animation as a storytelling method captivates audiences and keeps them glued to platforms. More than one study shows animation is more attention grabbing and engaging for audiences than live-action clips and scripted content, no matter the medium. On Instagram Stories, the click-through format allows for dynamic "flipbook" style storytelling, connecting digital audiences with narratives that call on them as active participants. On IGTV, the inherent dynamism of animation keeps more eyes on the screen than a person speaking to the viewer.

Brands ranging from Covid-19-related health organizations to activist nonprofits can leverage the nostalgia triggered by animation to pull in audiences, while its artwork defies the creative constraints—like the laws of physics—of live-action content. Animation also stands to reach a broader, more diverse audience with complex messages by communicating with characters that are agnostic of race, gender or ethnicity.

With studies in mind, animation can disperse information for front-of-mind issues, like systemic racism. Progressive action-oriented media channel recently launched an IGTV animated short defining systemic racism for its audiences, deftly breaking down its pattern and possible solutions. The moving images oriented themselves side-by-side, infographic style, but created a more compelling piece than a standalone chart. To date, Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis, TV host Sal Masekela and many more have shared the viral post.

We saw similar campaigns appear when public safety guidelines regarding the coronavirus were paramount to the health and safety of citizens worldwide. With the risk of a potential second wave this fall, the efforts to keep the public well-informed will not dissipate. As a result, LOBO crafted a series for Insta Stories breaking down seven components of Covid-19 health and safety, spotlighting seven organizations providing essential services to workers, patients and beyond. 

Animation has always been a dazzling art form and dynamic storytelling tool for brands to connect to a broad range of consumers. Now, with worldwide issues demanding our necessary attention, the medium can do more than it already has to connect viewers, spark conversation, increase understanding and maximize sharing. Companies must consider how they can be seen and heard, not to market their products and offerings but to share ideas and solutions with a savvy audience ready to enact change.

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