CGI vs Live-action TV ads: Which is better?

Apr 27, 2023 / Industry Insights / FOTW

In today’s highly competitive business world, television advertising is an essential tool for promoting brands and products to a wide audience. With television being one of the most powerful mediums for reaching consumers, it’s no surprise that companies invest heavily in creating TV ads that are engaging, memorable, and effective. However, when it comes to TV ads, there are generally two types to work with: CGI animated and live-action.

Each type of TV ad has its advantages and disadvantages, and choosing which one to use can have a significant impact on the success of an ad campaign. In this article, we will explore the benefits of both types of TV ads and when to use them, helping you make an informed decision about which format to choose. Whether you’re a small business owner, a marketing professional or just someone interested in the world of advertising, this article will provide valuable insights into the world of TV advertising.

What Is a CGI TV Ad?

In essence, a CGI TV ad uses graphics, animation, usually using various CGI techniques and brand assets to convey a message. It can take many forms, from simple cartoons to complex 3D animations. These ads are highly engaging and attention-grabbing, allowing brands to create characters and scenarios that are not limited by reality or in other words filming the unfilmable, the opportunities are endless.

CGI and Animated TV ads are a flexible and captivating format that can be highly effective in conveying a brand’s message in a memorable and creative way. They provide businesses with complete control over their message, characters, brand assets and environments, allowing for highly targeted and customisable advertising. Whether you’re a small business owner or a marketing professional, CGI TV ads are an excellent option for showcasing your products or services and creating fun and engaging commercials.

What Are the Benefits of Using CGI for TV Ads?

CGI TV ads have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their versatility and ability to engage audiences. With animation, businesses can create any scenario, environment, or character they can imagine, allowing for highly targeted and easily customisable advertising. 

Let’s explore the benefits of using CGI TV ads, helping you understand why they can be an attractive option for your business and marketing needs.

1. Stand out from the crowd

Businesses that use CGI TV commercials tend to have a leg up on the competition. By creating memorable characters, using CGI assets and scenarios that are unique to their brand, businesses can create a lasting impression on viewers. CGI Animated commercials can also be utilised to effectively communicate difficult or abstract subjects through the use of visual storytelling. Animated television commercials can help brands be noticed in a sea of competing messages.

2. Lower production costs

CGI Animated TV ads can be less expensive to produce than live-action ads, as they don’t require sets, locations, actors, or cameras and other equipment needed for live action. Businesses can save money on these production costs while still creating high-quality ads that grab their audience’s attention. This can be a significant advantage for smaller businesses with smaller budgets as its easier to update and utilise the assets across other channels such as digital and social even OOH (Out of home).

3. Enjoy a longer lifespan

CGI Animated ads tend to have a longer lifespan than live-action ads, as they don’t rely on current trends or actors, making them more timeless and long-lasting. They are also much easier to update as there is no new filming for new scenes, this can easily be updated within the software and on the computer. Animated characters or scenarios can become iconic and recognisable, adding to a business’s brand identity and equity. This can help businesses save money in the long run and ensure their message continues to resonate with their audience.

When Should You Utilise CGI Animated TV Ads?

As we’ve seen, CGI animated TV ads are a highly versatile format that can be effective in a wide range of scenarios. However, there are certain instances where they are particularly effective compared to using live-action ads. Here are some situations where businesses should consider using CGI animated TV ads:

1. To create a unique brand identity

Companies can stand out from the crowd and leave a lasting impression with a CGI animated TV commercial. By using bespoke characters, assets and scenarios that are exclusive to their brand, businesses can increase brand recognition and recall. This can help viewers associate the brand with specific values, emotions, or experiences, making it more likely that they will choose the brand over competitors. Moreover, an effective brand identity can increase customer loyalty and advocacy, creating long-term benefits for the business.

2. To showcase abstract concepts

There are times when a live-action commercial just won’t cut it, and that’s when a CGI animated one can really shine. With CGI, businesses can create engaging visuals that illustrate how their offerings work and highlight their unique features in an imaginative and memorable way. This can help viewers better understand the value of the product or service being advertised, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates.

3. To save on production costs

CGI Animated TV ads can be a cost-effective alternative to live-action ads, particularly for businesses with limited budgets. Because CGI ads don’t require actors, sets, or cameras, the production costs can be significantly lower than those for live-action ads. As a result, CGI TV ads are an attractive option for smaller businesses looking to create high-quality ads that capture the viewer’s attention without breaking the bank.

4. To showcase a USP and close ups of products

CGI can be a great way to showcase a new product, especially if theres a unique selling point. For example, breaking a product apart to show a new feature such as camera or laptop processor. It allows you to film the unfilmable and get the close up shots you wont be able to with a camera or as mentioned above the inside of a product. Filming CGI can also allow you to render out multiple shots, angles and extreme close up’s of a product easily without going back into a studio to re-film. This flexibility of CGI is endless.

What Is a Live-Action TV Ad?

Unlike CGI TV ads, live-action TV ads feature real people, settings, and products. Live-action TV ads can be shot on location or in a studio and are often used to create a sense of realism, authenticity and even emotional. They can be particularly effective in situations where viewers need to see a product or service in action, such as demonstrating how a product works or highlighting the benefits of a service.

There is no better way to advertise a company’s goods or services than through a live-action TV commercial. Creating a live-action TV commercial requires the expertise of many people, including the director, producer, actors, and technical staff. To create an advertisement that is visually beautiful, successful, and memorable, a lot of planning and coordination is required.

What Are the Benefits of Using Live-Action TV Ads?

When compared to CGI TV commercials, live-action ads offer a more natural and engaging manner to promote a company’s goods and services. By leveraging their benefits, businesses can create effective and engaging ads that resonate with their target audience and drive business success.

With that said, here are the five biggest benefits of utilising live-action TV ads:

1. Establish trust

Live-action TV ads feature real people using and benefiting from a product or service, which can help to establish trust and credibility with viewers. Seeing real people using the product or service can increase confidence in the brand and lead to higher engagement and conversion rates. This can be particularly effective for businesses in industries where trust is essential, such as healthcare or finance.

2. Develop emotional connections

Using recognisable faces and situations, live-action TV commercials can strike a chord with viewers better than their animated counterparts. By showcasing real people in natural settings, businesses can showcase how their product or service can improve the viewer’s life. This emotional connection can lead to higher engagement and brand recall, as viewers are more likely to remember an ad that elicits a strong emotional response.

3. Better brand recognition and recall

Live-action TV commercials can help a company connect with its target audience and establish credibility as an industry leader by featuring genuine people in authentic surroundings. Effective live-action TV ads should ensure consistent branding and messaging and consider using memorable spokespersons or characters. Building brand recognition and recall can lead to higher engagement, repeat business, and positive word-of-mouth recommendations, providing long-term benefits for the business.

When Is the Best Time to Use Live-Action TV Ads?

Businesses that want to boost their brand’s visibility, consumer interest, and sales could benefit greatly from airing live-action TV commercials. Live-action TV commercials can be the most effective in the following situations:

1. Launching a new product or service

With live-action visuals, businesses can demonstrate the product or service in action with human interaction, helping viewers understand how it can improve their lives. Thanks to this, live-action TV ads can be a highly effective way to promote a new product or service. By showcasing its unique features and benefits in an engaging and natural way, businesses can create excitement and anticipation among viewers, leading to increased interest and sales.

2. Rebranding or brand refresh

Live-action TV ads are a powerful tool for rebranding or refreshing a brand’s image. By showcasing the new brand identity or messaging in a relatable and engaging way, businesses can generate awareness and excitement around the brand, leading to increased engagement and improved brand perception. This is particularly effective for businesses looking to differentiate themselves from competitors or establish a new identity in a crowded marketplace.

3. Seasonal or holiday promotions

Promoting seasonal or holiday deals in a live-action TV ad is a terrific way to use appropriate themes or visuals. This is particularly effective for businesses in industries such as retail or hospitality, where seasonal promotions can drive a significant portion of sales. Through live-action visuals, businesses can create a sense of excitement and urgency around the promotion, leading to increased engagement and conversions.

The Bottom Line

Both animated and live-action TV ads have their advantages and disadvantages, and it’s crucial to know when to use each type. By understanding the benefits of each, you can make an informed decision about which type of ad to use for your brand or product. Ultimately, the key to a successful TV ad campaign is to create a message that resonates and engages with your target audience, regardless of the format you choose.

Keen on developing a TV ad campaign to boost your marketing strategy’s goals? Be sure to get in touch with an experienced TV ad agency that’ll work with you to create the perfect TV advertising campaign for your needs.

Author - Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith is the Co-Founder and Creative Director at Fall Off The Wall, a forward-thinking TV advertising & creative production agency in the UK. Jamie Smith is an experienced Creative Director with a demonstrated history of working in the DRTV marketing and advertising industry.