Commentary

Auteurs Versus Amateurs: Which Brands 'Get' Branded Video Content -- And Which Don't

  • by September 3, 2013
A remarkable thing about video is that a brand can get instant feedback on its content. The true test of whether a creative is working online is if people are making the choiceto watch it. If viewers like it, they will watch it multiple times and share it with their friends. If enough people like it and share it, it will go viral.

That begs the question, what makes people like a brand’s content so much that it goes viral?

To date, we’ve tracked more than 13,600 campaigns and we’ve learned a thing or two about what differentiates those brands that “get” branded video and those that haven’t quite caught on yet.

It’s really quite simple. Brands that find major success with branded video know how to tell a great story, one that excites the marketplace by resonating emotionally with viewers while being newsworthy enough to drive conversation. To make sure that it’s not a one-hit wonder, that brand needs to create a storyline that evolves and builds over time.

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If you try to create a story out of one video idea, it won’t resonate because it’s too tactical and there’s nothing new for consumers to talk about.

 E*Trade took the “too tactical” approach with its E*Trade baby campaigns.  When the baby made his first appearance during the 2009 Super Bowl, the strategy was right on-point. It promoted online trading, a then-new concept, as something so easy that a baby could do it.  And at a time when brands weren’t really socializing their Super Bowl spots, E*Trade teased the campaign starting two weeks before the game. That gamble paid off big for the brand.

That year, E*Trade, along with Doritos, had one of the most popular Super Bowl campaigns. The spot, which featured a baby singing “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister, garnered close to 12 million views at the time. According to our patented system of  measurement, it had a True Reach of more than 23 million views.

Thinking that the campaign had legs, the brand developed a platform and produced similar campaigns year after year. However, after working in 2009 and 2010,  subsequent campaigns  had views that declined drastically, according to our data. This year’s Super Bowl campaign featuring the E*Trade baby had a True Reach of only 1.5 million views.

E*Trade’s problem is common among brands. One video going viral doesn’t mean you can recreate that success by reproducing the same ad over and over again. If it’s not surprising, then people won’t talk about it or watch it.

E*Trade didn’t build enough of a story; it didn’t produce new insights and new ways of rendering the brand message in each execution.

On the other hand, Old Spice provides a classic example of success.  In 2010, it came out with “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” starring The Old Spice Guy (Isaiah Mustafa), a confident character who performed rapid-fire monologues while staring at the camera. While the character remained the same across campaigns, each video had him doing a new activity, in a new location, wearing new costumes. All the ads had a twist, so they were always surprising and, thus, newsworthy.

Every one of these campaigns garnered between 17 million and almost 90 million views. There was no degradation of the campaign because Old Spice continued to build on the story in new and exciting ways.

Even after Mustafa “retired” as The Old Spice Guy and Terry Crews took his place, campaigns – which featured the same, confident, fast moving dialogue and twist endings – still continue to pull millions of views. Most recently, “New Old Spice Shaving Gel” had a True Reach of more than 15 million views.

1 comment about "Auteurs Versus Amateurs: Which Brands 'Get' Branded Video Content -- And Which Don't".
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  1. jamie king from Keek, September 3, 2013 at 8:39 p.m.

    Great. So nothings changed. All you need is an excellent story, an emotional connection with the audience, surprising twists, and newsworthy features. Simple, right?

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