Symantec's 'Hal' Loses His Grip, But Snatches Some Leads


With its obvious likeness to broadcast TV, branded online video might appear to be primarily a consumer market game. But long before YouTube, some of the earliest and most lucrative video ventures online were driven by b2b models. Video Webcasting back in the early and mid 2000s was economically viable for some early players because big hardware and software companies appreciated the sheer economics of underwriting video programming that could run tens of thousands of dollars a pop.

The model was simple. Instead of shipping sales teams around the country to do dog and pony shows at every potential client's offices, a half hour online demo behind a registration wall could deliver actionable leads that could pay for the video in a single sale. By the mid 2000s the corporate workplace was generally well wired for broadband delivery, while speed and reliability were still pretty spotty in households. And so b2b arguably was ahead the consumer side in branded media.

And as we saw last week with Qumu's impressively produced IT Hero video, some b2b clips have become elaborate and witty.

One company that has been generating scores of b2b video is Symantec. In early June the company released a pair of sci-fi visions of managing cloud computing. Imagine the cloud as a starship.

Symantec's VP of Digital Marketing Michael Parker tells me that some of the effects guys who worked on "Batlestar Gallactica" and the recent "Star Trek" film also helped craft this series of spots. Tens of thousands have already viewed them on YouTube and on SymantecTV, a hub of the company's prolific video output.

But Symantec is most proud of the demonstrable success of its ongoing character "Hal the IT Guy." Unlike the Qumu and newest cloud computing promotions, the Hal series is very low-key. Well, if you consider a pudgy, khaki-and-button-down-wearing IT guy freaking over restoring a server 'low key.' Visually, the series is as understated as the FX-laden other videos are over the top. Hal is in a white space sharing his IT manager woes with the camera.

According to Parker, Hal delivers the goods.  "The 'Hal' videos have greater than 18K views on our own portal, with metrics showing that 40%+ who watch the video, register or download a datasheet, whitepaper or trial software. And that's not counting the 60K+ views 'Hal' has reached on YouTube," he says. In fact, Hal is making live appearances now.

Well, there will be no living with him. Just try to get your email issues fixed. An IT guy strutting down the cubicle aisle in Ray-Bans and with groupies in tow - that's what every enterprise needs.
1 comment about "Symantec's 'Hal' Loses His Grip, But Snatches Some Leads".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Thom Kennon from Free Radicals, July 20, 2011 at 5:12 p.m.

    Great piece Steve. Was just going into two separate client planning sessions seeking some fresh content & touchpoint strategies for B2B cut-thru challenges. Got 'em.

    Plus, now Hal is my new favorite YouTube all-star.

    Thom Kennon | @tkennon | +thom kennon |

Next story loading loading..