Brand Videos In 2014 Still Feeling Their Way

Everybody has their own idea of what works. Sometimes it’s universal, for sure, but sometimes it’s just success in the eye of the beholder, or several million of them.

VideoInk’s list of the 10 best brands in digital video in 2014 strike me that way. Though the top ten brands themselves deserve some props for obviously making efforts that go above and beyond, I’m not left woozy.

For example, that Activia video featuring Shakira became a huge hit around the time of the World Cup, and the fact it teamed with the World Food Programme made sharing it “virtuous” but the video itself, and the lyrics to the song, and what much of it had to do with Activia, left me unmoved. But it’s shared more time than any other ad in history, so from a branding perspective, the fact it tops the VideoInk list makes sense. It’s popular around the world and so is Shakira, and one helped the other, no doubt. But still...



Honda and Pepsi both front for music series, and both are lauded for putting their brands in the right place.  But Pepsi’s “Beats of The Beautiful Game” short film series really does mess up that envelope between advertising and content, where online video is taking marketing, while the Honda Stage marketing endeavor seems more like the triumph of slapping a Honda logo in a lot of places online. Purina is acknowledged for its cute “Dear Kitten” video and for being part of the relaunch of the YouTube channel, Petcentric.

It’s a clever cat commercial, that’s what it is. Golly, the way they think!

Maybe because I expect mind-blowing that all of these successful efforts just seem competent, which is about the same way I look at the Heineken spot featuring comic Fred Armisen. I remember when I first saw it, I thought, “cute” and not, “This ad will be shared 13.8 million times,” which is what happened. Ditto with its ads featuring Neal Patrick Harris, who riffed in Heineken videos about the ad “regulations” that stops him from taking a sip of that icy beer he loves. 

Contrast that with the World Cup videos for Nike or, especially, the Always “Like A Girl” video--excellent!--viewed over 53 million times on “YouTube, that make deeper comment about the combination of product and society. 

At least for me, a goal ought to be to present the brand as essential and committed, not just there, and those brands did that.

I especially feel that way with online efforts. The advertiser has the time and the flexibiility to do a million different things. A lot of brands still waste that opportunity.

The point with Top Ten lists, obviously, is that it puts everybody else on Bottom 40,000 list. But the problem is twinning popularity of ads with either creativity or effectiveness. It’s hard to do all three at the same time. It wasn’t any easier in 2014,
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