The growing sophistication of computer graphic programs has lead to a substantial increase in the use of animation in advertising. Animation has not been held in high regard in the past for promotional purposes. It was used when advertisers did not have enough money to prepare live commercials. Enhancements in technology in animated films, such as the recent film Avatar, has caused an increase in interest from consumers for animated advertisements. Currently animated advertisements are one of the most popular advertising techniques. Animation is defined by the Oxford American Dictionary as a “technique of filming successive drawings or positions of puppets or models to create an illusion of movement when the movie is shown as a sequence"[1] .

Animation Methods

Rotoscoping Rotoscoping is the process of digitally painting or sketching figures into live sequences”[2] . This technique enables creative’s to present both live actors and animated characters in the same frame. Rotoscoping was invented by Max Fleischer in 1917 and he used it for the first time in a Koko the Clown film.

The video on the left is a 1980’s Honey Nut Cheerios advertisement and on the right a recent Coke ad illustrating this technique. The two videos demonstrate a comparison of how technology has advanced in rotoscoping.

Clay Animation- is another animation method that uses clay figures and objects. This method is a type stop motion animation. Stop motion animation, defined by webopedia, “is a cinematic process, or technique used to makes static objects appear as if they were moving”. The clay objects are “brought to life by breaking up the figure’s motion into increments and filming one frame of film per increment”[3] .
Clay animation was made popular by Pilsbury in its Pilsbury Doughboy commercials.

Animated Advertising Mediums

Animated ads are most popularly used in television advertising. All though there is a current trend towards companies increasingly utilizing alternative media. For example companies are setting up YouTube channels where consumers can view various advertisements. For Pixar’s channel click here.


Examples of animated characters in advertisements are animal, human, or product personifications. Coca-Cola’s polar bear advertisements are a good example of animal animation. This company utilizes state of the art graphics to make these animated creatures seem realistic. The following video is an example of M&M's successful advertising campaign where the product is personified:

New Audience

There is a new trend towards the use of animation for developing successful business-to-business advertisements. Traditionally advertising agencies perceived the use of animation negatively in regards to targeting business people. This is because they believed animated promotion appealed only to children. Business-to-business animated advertisements are resulting from companies taking advantage of the technological advancements in high-quality computer graphics. United Airlines is an example of a company employing animation in their advertising campaigns. Theresa Howard, from USA Today, wrote an article on the use of animation in United Airlines advertisements, to access this article please click here.

The Future

The last couple years has seen an increase in demand for 3-dimensional (3D) animated films illustrated through big budget cinema releases employing this technology. The feasibility of 3D advertisements will depend on whether the technology can advance to the level that glasses are not required to view the images. Ryan James, a marketing manager for activ8-3D Holographic Projection studio based in England writes in more detail on this topic in the article 3D Holographic Projection - The Future of Advertising?.

For more information on animated promotion please visit:

Marketing With Computer Animation: 7 Reasons Why Your Company Should Use It

Max Fleischer Biography

More Information on Clay Animation


1) Wikipedia. "Clay animation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2010. <>.
2) "7 Reasons Why Your Company Should Use Computer Animation." Mike Efford Motion Design: a Toronto animation studio. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2010. <>.
3)"Max Fleischer: Biography from" Wiki Q&A combined with free online dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedias. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2010. <>.
4)Howard, Theresa, and USA TODAY. " - Animated United ads use soft touch to reconnect with fliers." News, Travel, Weather, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, U.S. & World - N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Feb. 2010. <>.
5)Ryan, James. "3D Holographic Projection - The Future of Advertising?." Free Articles Directory | Submit Articles - N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2010. <>.
6)" YouTube - Honey-Nut Cheerios: Hulk Hogan (1984) ." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. . N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Feb. 2010. <>.
7)" YouTube - Coca-Cola Avatar ." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. . N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2010. <>.
8)" YouTube - Star Wars M&M's Commercial ." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. . N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2010. <>.
9)" YouTube - pixar ." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. . N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2010. <>.

  1. ^ "AskOxford: animation." AskOxford: Free online dictionary resources from Oxford University Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2010. <>.
  2. ^ Kenneth E. Clow and Donald Baack, (2010) "Intergrated Advertising, Promotion, and Marketing Communications", Fourth Edition, Prentice Hall Upper Saddle River.
  3. ^ "What is stop motion animation? - A Word Definition From the Webopedia Computer Dictionary." Webopedia: Online Computer Dictionary for Computer and Internet Terms and Definitions . N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Feb. 2010. <>.