Product-less Advertising

The how-to’s of advertising used to be very clear. Define your audience and location, consider the product, its benefits and create a campaign that sells it. Today those instructions still hold, somewhat. More frequently, however, we’re witnessing ads without the blatant sell and without featuring the product or service they are selling. It is a power move for a company to have enough faith in its ad that they don’t need to push the product or a recognizable brand name. And as we are in an age of increasingly brilliant ads, it’s important to stop and take a look at the best specimens. Here are four examples minimal advertising in their prime:

Chipotle – “the scarecrow” Watch On Youtube

You’ve probably seen it by now, the follow-up to Chipotle’s heart-wrenching “Cultivate a Better World” animation, bringing the waterworks again. Although this isn’t completely nameless – there is a logo flash at the end of the three-and-half-minute spot – hardly anyone needs to get that far before recognizing the company behind it. Glossy production of an exaggerated dystopia pits Chipotle against evil looming factories of enhanced and modified meat. They may hammer a little too hard at being innocent underdogs (they brought in almost 803 million in Q2) but with a haunting cover by Fiona Apple and a couple of tear-quivering moments of abused animals (DAT COW), they sold it.

Jimmy Kimmel live! – failed twerk

Did you see that video of the girl twerking upside down on the door and then her roommate comes home causing her to fall on the coffee table and light herself on fire? We did. So did millions of others. It was only after the failed twerk had gone viral that Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show was revealed to be behind it. And although some people felt cheated by the video, most enjoyed it regardless. And real or not, it promotes what the Kimmel show sells – laughs – without pushing the show itself.

Anonymous(?) – beer prank

Carly Simon fans are still talking about her 1972 hit, “You’re So Vain”. Is it because it’s a great song? Or because she refuses to reveal whom it she was singing about? Probably the second. New Zealand beer company TUI may or may not have taken a page from Simon’s book. A recent viral prank involving a group of friends plumbing a guy’s house with beer features a suspicious number of TUI logos. But the brand has not accepted responsibility for the video, making the authenticity of the stunt even more contested (and more viral). Lesson learned: How do you get everyone talking? Tell them there’s nothing to talk about.

True move – “giving”

The Thai ad agency behind this viral commercial has figured out a way to condense a two hour movie plot into three minutes. Boy steals. Man forgives. Man dies. Boy repays favor. Close the curtains and cue the tears. Similar to “The Scarecrow”, this ad is going for entertainment value in a big way. There is nothing to alert you to the mobile company being promoted until the final logo and tagline “Giving is the best communication.” And by then you are ready to buy a mobile phone for a country you don’t even live in. The commercial has over 11 million views on YouTube and that number doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

These ads all rely on their virality/ entertainment value versus promoting their brand name. It’s a swing towards better ads which is always a good thing for viewers and ad agencies alike.

Ripen Services:

Do you want your business to be remembered for your ad or the product you sell? Why not both? At Ripen our creative team crafts meaningful campaigns that hits home with your target customers. Put the right ads in front of the right faces with our unique ecommerce services.


Let’s get started.

Find out how we can help your ecommerce strategy.

Get in touch


If you’re a rockstar with big ideas, join our team.

View open positions