A Critical Review of the Development of Promo Practice, Codes and Conventions

Promotional Video Past and Present Comparative Presentation/Report.

You should write a Critical commentary of 1,000 words (Approx.) comparing/analysing promotional videos in terms of video production codes and conventions

Alternatively, this critical commentary could also be done as a voiceover of a newly edited video with comparative archive clips embedded or as an accompanying text/subtitles over/alongside existing video

Or, could be presented as a website: “How to create a Promotional Video”.

In all your evidence you should consider the following:

Codes and conventions: style, eg informational, pastiche, homage, parody, surreal, montage, talking heads, documentary; Content; form, eg promos, training, music, information and sales

Current practice: equipment; mediums, eg film, video, animation; techniques, eg recording, editing, effects; formats, eg file type, file size, compression; storage, eg files, disks, tapes.


A promotional video has a main purpose to supply information, either for a corporation, about a product, or a service being offered. There are many different forms of promotional videos, including training videos, music videos, informative health and safety announcements, promoting businesses, and publicizing products. Although there are several types of promotional videos out there, the aimed objective for them is all the same, simply to publicize, advertise, and further develop what’s being promoted. I will be analysing and comparing the codes and conventions in a couple of different promotional videos from the past and present.

This first promotional video is about the new invention from Motorola in United States around the 1980’s. Motorola publicizes one of the first ever mobile phones offered specifically for commercial use called “DynaTAC 8000x”. It was priced at $3995 and was later know as the brick phone. This video had intentions to promote Motorola’s new phone but its main focus was to inform people to utilize this amazing new revolution. This video is aimed at a wide range of people. Only about a few thousand people were using mobile phones around the time when this video was put together. It took over a decade for the market of mobile phones to kick into gear. To look back on this video now it seems a bit humorous to see how far we have come from this period. In this video Motorola has also advertised a car phone, which is a bit ironic because nowadays we need to use hands free devices when operating vehicles. This promotional video uses a voice over explaining the benefits of using mobile phones, all while showing visuals of hard working businessmen as well as people living laid back lives using this new gadget on the go. This phone was a massive symbol of wealth when it came out, just as a new sports car would be. Motorola mainly promoted it to powerful corporate figures that needed to take important calls while out of their office, but their long-term aim was to expand the usage of mobile phones to consumers.

Mobile phones have come a long way since 1983 and because they are more widespread now, Motorola’s main focus is to simply sell their products to consumers against their competitors. This is a more up to date promotional video by Motorola advertising their new 4G Droid RAZR M for the Verizon network in America. Unlike the previous promo video, this more recent advertisement uses a variety of different codes and conventions such as music, graphics, and Motorola’s company logo. The beginning starts out with some slow uplifting music and while artistically showing the performance of the RAZR M without actually showing the mobile phone itself. It creatively incorporates the visuals of the phone screen in the palms of people’s hands that are using it. It displays certain functions such as watching a movie on a rainy day, using the navigational map to assist travelers, cooking instructions, staying entertained by playing games, and shopping online while out and about. The mobile phone then appears for the first time in promo and a voice over states the make, model, and specifications of the phone being advertised. Fine print is then located at the bottom of the screen disclosing terms and conditions about mobile contracts. In the end of this promo, a small Motorola and Verizon Wireless logo fade in. Because this advertisement was designed for television it ends a bit abruptly, with no fade to black, it suddenly cuts off to start another advert. Personally I think it’s a really sufficient promotional video. Not only is this advert promoting Motorola’s product but they’re also promoting Verizon Wireless mobile service, as today most phones come locked with a specific company. If I were to make one suggestion for this video I would recommend for the logos at the end to be much larger. Logos are a very important part of marketing because consumers remember logos very well, which can increase sales dramatically.

I’m moving away from the advertisement side of promotion and focusing more on videos that promote information for safety and awareness. This next promotional video is again from the United States, from 1964. It is a council public service announcement from the Smokey the Bear Campaign. They incorporate footage from Walt Disney’s animation Bambi, which was made in 1942. They show the scene from Bambi where all the forest animals are trying to escape the flames from the burning woodland; they then integrate their animated character Smokey the Bear yelling “Fire! Fire! Run for your lives!” Fast, tension-building music plays until Smokey the Bear is in a burnt down graveyard of a forest. He then does a voice over giving informative tips to prevent dangerous forest fires. Smokey recommends snapping matches in half after using them, putting smoked cigarettes out properly, as well as correctly dousing campfires. He ends with his catch phrase “ Only you can prevent forest fires.”  I think this video was very well made and great for the time it was produced. It’s an impressive way to show the horrible repercussions caused by human-made forest fires. The catch phrase is excellent way of getting people to think differently and to not be careless when it comes to handling fires in the forest.

The final promo video is a more recent up-to-date public service announcement from Smokey the Bear made in 2009. The scene starts out with a couple in the wilderness. Soft and subtle music is played in the background. The gentleman asks his partner if she is “ready to go?” She replies that she is, but mentions that the campfire isn’t out. The camera smoothly pans as the gentleman glances at the campfire. He states that the fire is close enough to being put out. The camera then pans back to the woman but she is now a huge animated Smokey the Bear.  They use the woman voice over to explain, if the fire is too hot to touch it’s too hot to leave, and that it can potentially torch the whole neighborhood. It then shows a close up of the gentleman realizing he should act more responsibly when it come to fires and he basically says, okay, well we aren’t going anywhere until it’s put out properly. Then the final shot is of the man looking back at his partner to discover she is no longer Smokey the Bear anymore. It ends with a statistic of 9 out of 10 wildfires are caused by humans. Smokey the Bear then says his signature catch phrase “only you can prevent wildfires.” The one thing I would have to criticize would be that there are no titles or a company logo present at the end. This promo video is more modern than the previous Smokey the Bear video from 1964, unlike that one it uses recorded footage shot from a camera and an original scene, rather than animated footage from an already made movie. Overall I believe this is a clever way to catch the audience’s attention by catching them off guard because they’re not expecting the woman to turn into Smokey the Bear.

There are many types of promotional videos out there. They range in many different formats from television to online viewing. What they have in common is they all promote to a certain specific audience. Motorola first promoted to wealthy businessmen on the go, but now they’ve expanded promotion to anyone who uses mobile smart phones. The Smokey the Bear campaigns have always promoted safety awareness in America due to the high risk of dry forest fires. There are many different codes and conventions used for all the various types of promotional videos such as the editing techniques, video and audio transitions, music style, voice over’s, interviews, graphics, logos, and most importantly the selling point. A key thing a promotional video must do is stand out to the audience, so they will remember it. More straight forwardly, promotional videos advance the progress of the corporation, product, or service being offered. Promotion has been around for quite a while only until recently has it merged with video.

Criteria: 1.1