Advertisers Watching Ads: Fortnite, Nike & Black Lives Matter


In this featured episode of ‘Advertisers Watching Ads’ covered by TheGamingEconomy, Automated Creative Founder Tom Ollerton joined Penny Parnell, Creative Director at Not on the High Street; Jay Richards, Founder of Imagen; and Craig Fenton, Google’s Director of Strategy and Operations in the UK. They picked apart recent advertising campaigns from distinct sectors: video gaming, sociopolitical, and athletic wear, highlighting strengths and areas of improvement for each ad.

Building anticipation for the biggest live concert in history

This episode starts with an ad for rap artist Travis Scott’s “Astronomical” Fortnite concert, chosen by Craig. The ad itself ran on YouTube and various gaming platforms for about a week to promote a live music concert in the battle-royale video game Fortnite.

The event turned out to be the biggest live concert in history; it was watched by 12.3m concurrent gamers around the globe, right in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown. It’s a great example of how creatives can leverage virtual environments with enormous success.

While being in awe of the visuals and the overall concept of the ad, Penny admitted that she didn’t really get what it was for when she first saw it. But that didn’t stop her being able to appreciate why it would appeal massively to the people it’s aimed at.

Jay added that for Fortnite, the Travis Scott concert provided a huge boost at a time when the game itself was witnessing a decline in gamers and streamers. It helped put Fortnite back on the map for Gen-Z.

The bottom line is that gaming environments are still relatively unexplored and unexploited by advertisers, but the potential for brands to connect with their primary audiences on such platforms is exponential. Anything is possible in the gaming world, with few restrictions, so brands should be taking a long, hard look at Travis Scott’s Fortnite concert and thinking of ways they can leverage similar platforms with the same impact. Moreover, with video games serving as the base platform for more forms of digital entertainment and social networking, it will surely pay dividends to explore gaming-tied advertising to capitalise on future opportunities.

Is it even an ad? It is if you moves you to do something

The second ad featured is Meena Ayittey’s “Mama” video in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Jay chose this highly emotive video, which he says “humanises the Black Lives Matter movement”.

Craig added that the video was “raw, relatable and, above all, moving”, evoking lots of emotion as the story is told from a mother’s point of view and you are listening to her personal plea for her son.

But “Is this actually an ad?” It’s hard to be objective with such a powerful, emotive video, but it’s a question that needed to be asked. “You can’t ignore it”, is Jay’s opinion, a view echoed by Craig: “If you define an ad as a story that calls us to action, it’s definitely that”.

Making people feel good in times of uncertainty is powerful

This week’s third and final ad is Nike’s “Never Too Far Down”, chosen by Penny. An “odd choice for someone who’s fanatic about supporting small business”, she says. Nevertheless, it’s an ad that genuinely compelled her to want to rush out and some Nike trainers on.

The reason this ad works so well — apart from the stunning visuals and emotive soundtrack — is because it leans on the current Covid-19 situation. At a time when people globally are feeling down and despondent, this ad reminds us that we can pick ourselves back up and inspires us to do exactly that.

Penny says the ad is for everyone and “uniting”. Adding that it’s not only an “ad to sell stuff”, but a driver for inspiring behavioural change. And when you consider the host of benefits of participating in sports, such as boosted physical and mental health, this ad not only offers hope at a time when people need it, but also promotes valuable activities.