Why Every Brand Needs A Million-View Video

by , Mar 29, 2012, 7:08 AM
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The idea for this article was inspired by a little video with marginal production values about an obscure company that crossed my Twitter stream. It had 300 views when I started writing. By the time you read this, it will have more than 3 million views. I like to call this video Exhibit A (aka The Dollar Shave Club Launch Video).

Exhibit A has many things in common with another million-plus view video that I’ll go ahead and call Exhibit B (aka Hot Wheels Custom Motors Cup Challenge). But by far the most important thing in common is that both videos have a LOT of content that does NOT describe the product.

Here’s the thing: I wish every brand had a video with a million views. Why? Because they'd see the video was successful because it didn’t blatantly market the company’s products or services. Then the company would loosen up restrictions on videos with a goal of high views -- and would use a metric other than views for targeted videos.

EXHIBIT A

So, let’s say you are starting up a new direct-shipment shaving razor company. You’re writing up the brief for the creative agency and include the following must-haves:

  • Guy in a bear suit
  • Machete-carrying founder
  • Sound of a train whistle
  • Leaf blower making it rain dollar bills

Right?

Of course not. You let the agency or your in-house team know you want to communicate to the consumer that 1) the razors are $1 each, 2) they get shipped directly to you, 3) you don’t need as expensive razors as you buy now, and 4) this should be the easiest decision you’ve ever made.

And here is where the most important part of your brief comes in: Do you want this video to drive awareness OR answer questions about the product/service? Because if it’s the former, then you loosen up your reins on the creative. If it’s the latter, than you loosen up your expectations on number of video views.

If you need both? Create two videos.

EXHIBIT B

Two years ago, Mattel approached my company with the challenge of creating a series of video “races” on YouTube to showcase its new-at-the-time Hot Wheels cars with swappable components. Mattel did it right. It let us know the goal was awareness and video views, so we went crazy with the creative and light on answering product questions.

Several weeks, two lighting control boards burnt out, 85 pounds of sugar (“snow”), 150 pounds of sand (“desert”), three custom race tracks and 9181 still-frames later, we had 18 videos with YouTube annotations linked together to create a stop-motion choose-your-own-adventure showcasing three cars and multiple components.

The questions the videos did NOT answer:

  • How many cars are there?
  • How many components are there?
  • Do the components come with the cars?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Where can I buy it?

But it was entertaining, got attention and garnered millions of views on multiple of the videos.

THE LEARNINGS

Million-view videos tend to generate more questions than they answer. That’s because million-view videos entertain, inspire or shock you with information that makes you crave more.

If you want a video that tells people the details about your product, where they can get it, how the cost structure works and what their options are, then don’t expect a video that generates an absurd number of views and generates awareness. House the video on your website, link to it from your advertising and use it to solve specific informational needs.

If you want a video that raises more questions than it answers, but drives awareness and could generate more than a million views… see Exhibits A and B.

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