Most brands seemingly would gravitate toward work that was safe, and maybe a little boring, but played to the broadest possible target.
But as we’ve seen at Cannes over the last couple of years, there’s no reason that award-winning, edgy work, can’t also appeal to the masses.
In 2012, the big winner was Chipotle’s “Back to the Start,” a campaign about sustainability, which has garnered nearly 9 million views online.
Last year, Dove’s Real “Beauty Sketches” won the Titanium Grand Prix Lion. The campaign, which is based on a short film that uncovers the insecurities that women have about their looks, also happened to be the most-viewed campaign of the entire year. Counting views from China, the ad has been viewed more than 187.5 million times since its launch in April 2013; it’s the eighth most-viewed ad of all time.
But the biggest winner of the 2013 Cannes Festival of Creativity was Metro Train Melbourne’s “Dumb Ways to Die,” an adorably gruesome music video/PSA about train safety. It won a record-setting five Grand Prix awards, 18 Gold Lions, three Silver Lions, and two Bronze Lions. It also happens to be the fifth most-viewed branded video campaign of all time, with 197 million views.
This year, we’re seeing similarly edgy and exciting work winning awards and racking up views.
Chipotle came back this year to won a Grand Prix in the Cyber category, Integrated Multiplatform Campaign, for “The Scarecrow.” The campaign, which again relies on animation and remake of a popular tune to teach sustainability, has generated nearly 14 million views.
And Volvo Trucks won a Grand Prix in the Cyber category, Social Campaign, for “Epic Split.” Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, and featuring the music of Enya, the campaign was one of the most-viewed and most-parodied campaigns of the last year. To date it has generated more than 137 million views, making it the eleventh most-viewed campaign of all time.
What do all of these campaigns have in common, besides big viewership and shelves of awards? All were created for online distribution, not television.
Online video buys are cheaper than television buys and get instant results from consumers. Because of this, brands are more willing to experiment with online video. They can try out an edgy concept, and if consumers like it, the viewcount will show that right away and it can be moved to TV. If it doesn’t work, it can be quickly taken down and replaced.
It’s not just the ability to easily experiment with creative that makes online video the best medium for playing with advertising concepts. It’s also the freedom inherent in the medium that drives innovation.
Unlike TV, where brands are confined to 30-second commercials (or maybe a 15-second or one minute commercial), online video lets the creative agency imagination run wild. Want to make a six-minute short film or a Web series or a 19-second video? All of that works in branded video.
It’s no wonder that so many brands and agencies are doubling down on video. It’s the perfect place to pair award-winning and audience-winning work.