Blog: Send A Powerful Message With Social Experiments | LAI Video

A Powerful Yet Overlooked Technique for Commercials: Social Experiments


From humor to heartbreak, commercials often employ emotion to teach viewers something new. While most commercials address the specific benefits of a particular brand, product, or initiative, one powerful—yet often overlooked—technique is to teach viewers something about themselves.

In what are known as “social experiments,” brands place real and often unsuspecting people in unreal scenarios, enabling evocative moments of self-discovery.


Here are three examples of recent commercials that apply social experimentation to align a brand with a poignant message:

  1. #LikeAGirl  |  Always
  2. The Payless Experiment  |  Payless
  3. Love Beats Money  |  ING

Keep reading for a deeper dive into how each of these commercials effortlessly aligns the organization’s brand with strong and moving messages aimed at reaching and engaging with specific demographics.



Always’ #LikeAGirl commercial proves that a social experiment does not require an intricate set-up to be highly effective. Asking participants what it means to do something “like a girl,” the spot juxtaposes the emotional reactions of young adults and teens to those of young girls themselves. By examining people’s use of everyday language, #LikeAGirl demonstrates how girls’ confidence plummets during puberty—and how Always is working to change this narrative and empower girls globally by promoting healthy self-confidence and bringing puberty education to millions of adolescent girls.

"In my work as a documentarian, I have witnessed the confidence crisis among girls and the negative impact of stereotypes first-hand," said Lauren Greenfield, filmmaker and director of the #LikeAGirl video. "When the words 'like a girl' are used to mean something bad, it is profoundly disempowering. I am proud to partner with Always to shed light on how this simple phrase can have a significant and long-lasting impact on girls and women. I am excited to be a part of the movement to redefine 'like a girl' into a positive affirmation."



Requiring a somewhat mischievous sense of humor from the brand, Payless’ social experiment encourages viewers not to be fooled by hefty price tags. Filmed at a fake luxury store, the series captures guests’ reactions as they learn that Payless offers the same shoes they’ve just purchased at a fraction of the cost. Critiquing the idea that designer apparel is better than its less expensive counterparts, the series makes it clear that Payless offers high-quality products at affordable prices and tries to remove any negative connotations that may have been associated with the brand name of footwear.



How much are your friendships worth? As emotional as it is brilliant, ING’s commercial addresses that lofty question and demonstrates the bank’s understanding that relationships with loved ones are more important than money can ever be. While this message would seem to be contradictory coming from a bank, it’s in fact what makes the commercial so effective. As the on-screen participants pledge to amend their broken relationships, the spot humanizes the company, separating it from the competition and perceptions of the industry that are less than amicable.



Could your organization benefit from a memorable experiment that challenges the ideas behind your brand identity and encourages people to reconsider preconceived notions and negative beliefs about your industry or your organization that may exist? Let us know.

Get in touch with a member of our team to find out how LAI Video can help to align your video strategy with your organization's shared mission and vision and take your video campaigns to the next level in 2019.


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