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Higher School of Economics - National Research University

Department of Theory and Practice of advertising

«The peculiarities of creating an animated advertising


character: choosing the techniques and means of
expression»

Project proposal by a four year student

Chitchyan G.M.

Scientific supervisor

Nikolaishvili G.G.

Supervisor of English

Pelevina T.A.

Moscow 2011

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Introduction
A product may be recognizable by a consumer but it is unlikely to get very far
if it has no “story”. The “story” of a product is the accumulation of experience,
hearsay and identifying characteristics that reside in its identity – brand. The
primary thing for developing a brand and its “story” is strategic creative which
means creative aimed at long-term perspectives. Unfortunately nowadays there are
very few companies which realize its importance and the importance of branding
in the whole, that’s why some products have a long history and some do not dwell
on the market.
In order to prolong product’s life and to attract new customers there are always
being developed new marketing and advertising tools. Because of tough
competition these tools are also supposed to help in distinguishing the product
from its rivals.
That is why I have decided to write my graduation paper about one of the most
effective ways of promotion. The theme I have chosen is “Creating animated
advertising characters: choosing the techniques and means of expression”. This
theme is topical as today animation is becoming more and more popular and
advertising is one of the main spheres where it is used. In my course paper I am
going to expand on the topic of animated advertising characters but not animated
advertising in the whole.
With this idea in mind, I defined the objective of my graduation paper as
investigating all the aspects of creating animated advertising characters: from idea
development to the character execution.
Accordingly the major tasks of my research paper are: to consider the role of
animation in advertising and the increasing role of trade characters in promotion
process, to study all the steps of creating a character, to describe all the possible
criteria which are being considered while developing the idea, than to outline
different stages of character production and to sum up different animation
techniques. It would be also quite valuable to find out some consistent patterns or
rules of particular techniques usage.
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While working on these tasks I have formulated the next hypothesis: animated
advertising character execution has its own peculiarities, though it is based on
classic character production.
The basic terms I am going to consider in my graduation paper are advertising
character, animated advertising character, animation, character execution.
Advertising character is a fictional character which appears
within advertising and marketing materials for a given product or service. 1 It is
aimed to attract customers’ attention and to provide the product’s best
characteristics. According to the classification of Chemezova there exist 4 main
types of advertising characters: celebrities, testimonials, experts and animated
characters. It is necessary to mention that advertising characters are often named
“trade characters” and in my work I am going to use both terms.
Animated advertising characters are also defined as “advertising spokes
characters”. This term was developed by Margaret Callcott and means an animate
being or animated object that is used to promote product, service, brand, or idea.
Animation is the process of bringing an illusion of movement achieved by the
lining up of either two-dimensional (2D) drawings or computer generated images
or three-dimensional (3D) objects such as clay or Plasticine. The term itself comes
from the Latin word animate, which means to bring life to or to invoke life.
Character execution means the manner in which the idea of the character is
carried out or presented.
For my research I have thoroughly studied the works of Margaret Callcott and
Wei-Na Lee who are the pioneers in spokes-character researches. My work is also
based on different books describing advertising production and character
animation. American articles and analysis form the main part of the literature used
in this research. It is reasonable to notice that there exist no books or scientific
works describing the process of creating an animated character, including all the
main stages, the majority of them make an emphasis on character production.

1
Meet Mr. Product By: Warren Dotz & Masud Husain
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Moreover spokes-characters are little researched theme of advertising which once
again proves the practical value of this work.

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Chapter 1
1.1. Animation in advertising
In the past century, animation has grown from an experimental fringe art form
into a staple of television broadcasting, advertising, cinema and web entertainment.
The popularity of the animated feature appears to be growing. Some animated
shows made initially for television, have spawned such a cult following that they
have been reworked for the big screen. A hit film can now spin off into an
animated television show or computer game. However there are a lot of different
applications for animation (educational films, feature films, music videos, web
animation, original animated video, short feature films, short or experimental
subjects, broadcast television series, broadcast television specials , broadcast
television short subjects, television bumpers, video games, architectural animation,
medical or other industrial films, multipath movies, logos, intros and credits for
other structures, avatars, banners and web advertising, mobile phone images),
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advertising now is one of the most popular ones. The practical value of animation
in advertising field goes beyond creating animated commercials; it also includes
creating animated trade-characters who are going to represent the product for quite
a long time and to be associated with it in consumers’ minds.
There are a lot of factors except its low costs which make animation such an
effective advertising tool. Here are the advantages of its leveraging:
1. Shows how a mechanical device works: like (a) the Honda Civic 's new kind
of combustion system, (b) the structure of a tire, (c) the action of a jet-spray
tooth cleaner, (a) a self-cleaning oven.
2. Shows the anatomy of a product: (a) the assembly of a chocolate bar, (b) the
ingredients in a can of soup. (c) the action of a fertilizer, (d) the vegetable
juices in a vegatable drink.
3. Shows abstract ideas: (a) the Green Giant symbol of fertility, (b) detergency,
(c) protection.

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The Animation Producer’s Handbook
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4. Shows how a product works: (a) a razor blade cutting close, (b) drain
cleaner, (c) lawn mower, (d) tire tread, (e) reflex camera, (f) fluoride in
toothpaste, (g) microwave oven.
5. Shows things too big or too small to photograph: (a) animated maps, (b)
action of nerve vapour on flies, (c) action of a dog's flea collar.3
There are three main perspectives of animation, which should be considered in
advertising sphere too: distinctiveness, dual coding and interactivity. 4 Distinctive
ad elements are thought to draw attention; consequently, they are recalled better
than non-distinctive ad elements. Dual coding theory relies on the assumption that
humans have separate channels for processing visual and verbal information.
According to dual coding theory, learning is most likely to occur when
corresponding visual and verbal information is presented at the same time,
activating both channels. It promotes attention to (Craig, Gholson, and Driscoll
2002), integration of (Mayer and Moreno 2002), and memory for (Rieber 1996)
information (for a review, see Mayer and Moreno [2002]). That is why animated
advertising characters are likely to be used in order to make the information about
the product more memorable.

1.2. Animated spokes-characters and their role in advertising


These characters have gradually evolved from animals and plants to today’s
cartoon characters. Companies have integrated key features of products or brands
with their spokes-characters. When the attribute of the spokes-character is highly
correlated to the brand, it becomes easier for consumers to remember the brand and
boost favorable response. This measure is used to strengthen the link between the
spokes-character and the brand in the consumers’ impression and, eventually
improve brand popularity.
Some companies have represented spokes-characters in the form of toys in
order to “give life” to such characters. Furthermore, they create a virtual world
3
Animation and Advertising by John Straiton Ottawa International animation festival – 30th anniversary
4
Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising Interactive Animation: Exploring Spokes-Characters on the
Internet Barbara Phillips and Wei-Na Lee
6
peopled by friends and family whom the viewers can identify with, complete with
a theme song and a child’s voice for the character. Other companies have even
shaped a special personality, along with a distinctive set of hobbies for the
character. This personification technique not only helps the object jump from its
original role as a spokes-character into being a unique commodity, it also triggers
further discussions and attracts people toward purchasing and collecting such
products. For example, the brand Sushi Express has created a series of dolls with
various personalities, genders, interests, and occupations including Toro and
Taro, among many others. Aside from commercialization, the personified cartoon
figures have also been extensively used by merchants in propaganda and
promotional activities. If the effect is remarkable, the company may set up an
exclusive showcase in the form of exhibits or sales for such figures, and then open
exclusive theme stores, thereby initiating another round of discussions regarding
the spokes-characters.
Consequently animated advertising characters stay in consumers’ minds and
hence create a powerful brand identification and personality.

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Chapter 2
It is well known that the two dimensions to the creative side of an
advertisement are the message strategy and its execution. The same rule is
applicable to the creative side of animated advertising characters. But the creative
message refers to the idea. So we can divide the whole production process into two
main stages: idea development and character execution. This division is quite
optional but nevertheless it happens to be.

2.1. Idea development


While thinking over the creative idea of the character it is necessary to take into
account such figures as the product it is going to represent, it’s main brand values,
the budget of the campaign, the target audience, the competitors, the previous
advertising campaigns and others. Animated advertising characters use to be
created for a particular campaign and there usually already exists the plot of the
commercial and this makes the creative process easier as it applies particular
restrictions on the character.
It is also worth mentioning that in creating an ad character there is often
practiced the archetype theory, according to which there exist ten basic models of
person, personality or behavior. According to Peter Wlashe and Millward Brown it
is an essential part of the brand “story” represented in one mythic or fantastical
“character’. 5 Though this theory is more correspondent to human advertising
characters, it is also quite effective in creating an animated one. They say that there
are 4 main dimensions of any character: personality (what is the brand like), values
(what does the brand believe in), emotions (what does the brand feel like),
competences (what is the brand good at).
Along with this approach there exists a special framework by Callcott, Phillips
& Lee which describes the typology of spokes-characters. The four parameters
considered are the physical appearance of character, the type of media it appears
in, the advertising or non-advertising origin, and the promotional attribute of
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Character Building for brands
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character. Before the execution process it is necessary to define the type of the
character according to these figures.
Callcott & Phillips (1996) presented a study to explore the issues of spokes-
characters likeability as tools for brand building. Four are the dimensions of
spokes-character likeability identified in their study: personality, physical
characteristics, humor, and consumer experience factor.6
Some advertising agencies create their own strategies for developing trade
characters. For example in MicroArts Creative Agency the process of drawing out
a character involves answering several questions determining its main
characteristics: what is its name, is it male/female, what is its purpose, where does
it live, what are its personality traits, what is its life like, what are five possible life
situations, etc.
Nevertheless there are a lot of strategies and all of them not only take into
account but even emphasize the importance of creating a personality – a set of
human characteristics representing the product.

2.2. Character execution


Talking about execution we usually mean the process of drawing and
production. There exists a specialized area of the animation process concerning the
animation of one or more characters featured in an animated work which is called
character animation. Animation production in the whole is the process that brings
the envisaged product to life by taking it from the esoteric level of an idea to the
level of physical existence. Animation production is commonly divided into the
following segments: development, pre-production, production, post-production.
Based on technological differences there are different types of animation which
are commonly used in character animation: puppet animation (Energizer Bunny),
computer-generated animation (Sponge Bob, Pink Panther), cut-out animation

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An Application of ZMET to Explore Consumers’ Experience in Spokes-Character

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(King Rollo), draw animation, pixilation (8BitBuddy V01 7 ) , stop motion
animation (stop motion subjects can be created with clay, plasticine (Becks
Advertisement, Stamyl Advertisement by Maruri Grey), wood, wire and even
patient humans).
Creating an animated character involves modeling the characters geometry and
creating motion specifications for the characters actions. There are three main
methods by which character animations are created: keyframe interpolation,
physical simulation and motion capture. Each of these methods has its advantages
and disadvantages and they are appropriate in different situations.
Moreover character production process can be described through describing the
production of different character parts. Some researches have shown that there are
three dimensions that might influence customers’ ad credibility, ad attitudes, and
attention to spokes-character advertisements: (1) Spokes-character’s facial
appearance (human-like or cartoon-like), (2) Spokes-character’s gender (male or
female), (3) Spokes-character’s lip-synchronization (adult voice or child voice). 8
We can see that though the execution process plays a great role in the ad
efficiency, there will be no positive result without detailed idea development.

7
http://www.dejurka.ru/graphics/pixel-art/
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The Effect of Virtual Spokes-Character Type upon On-Line Advertisements
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Conclusion
The paper proves the fact of the importance of using advertising characters in
order to distinguish products from each other and to create positive associations in
consumers’ minds. But it also helps us to make a conclusion that though at first it
seems they seem to be quite a simple and unsophisticated advertising tool it
requires a lot of work – both mental and technical. The idea development process
forms the basis of and defines the whole production process.
It is also obvious that advertising and animation itself pursue totally distinctive
purposes. This is the reason why it is necessary to make an emphasis on
completely different aspects of the character. It is also important to mention that in
the abstract all the animation techniques are possible to be used in advertising, but
the experience shows that in spite of the current technical and technological
development there are several basic techniques which are used in advertising. At
the end of my course paper I would like to develop and to present my own
framework for creating an animated advertising character.

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Sources
1. An Application of ZMET to Explore Consumers’ Experience in Spokes-
Character
2. Animation and Advertising by John Straiton Ottawa International animation
festival – 30th anniversary
3. Character Building for brands
4. Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising Interactive
Animation: Exploring Spokes-Characters on the Internet Barbara Phillips
and Wei-Na Lee
5. Meet Mr. Product By: Warren Dotz & Masud Husain
6. Lea Milic, Yasmin McConville. The Animation Producer’s Handbook 2006
7. The Effect of Virtual Spokes-Character Type upon On-Line Advertisements

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