Commentary

Branded Adventure: Bolthouse Show Live Streams A Borscht Cocktail

I have to admit I was a bit of a skeptic about live-streaming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat. Really, I thought, just one more way for social network narcissists to broadcast the ephemera of their lives as breaking news? Just trolling for live streams in these mobile apps will net you a lot of staggeringly banal crap. Apparently, people are as uninspired in Turkey as they are in U.S. college dorms.

Still, I'm coming around as I see some brands creating fun video moments that have enlivened my day. Lately I've been monitoring Mashable and Cosmopolitan magazine. The former has an actual live-stream programming schedule already in place, with news updates and product reviews. The latter broadcasts random openings of incoming FedEx packages and office parties. At their best, these daily interludes are welcome glimpses into the personalities and tone behind a media brand.

Bolthouse Farms, makers of healthy juices and dressings, has latched onto this medium with a new series that highlights drink recipes with leading mixologists.

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Hosted by the Bolthouse digital marketing team of Pam Naumes (past speaker at MediaPost events) and Greg Misa (speaking at our upcoming OMMA LA), the broadcast I caught last week shows ace bartender Josh Goldman making the intriguing beet-juice-based Borscht Belt and its alcohol-free version, the Fozzie Bear.

Essentially, this is a branded content/product integration play. A Bolthouse juice was used as a base, but Greg and Pam wisely low-keyed the branding and highlighted the informational/entertainment content. Josh explains the elements of the drink and how and why they balance each other out, teaching us a bit about the “ology” of mixology in the process.

The ethos of live streaming is its disarming informality. Greg and Pam are our avatars. Each has a smartphone in hand, one presumably shooting for Periscope and the other for Meerkat. They taste and describe the drink for us as well.

Appropriate length is an open question in live streaming. This one was better-structured and more compact than most, lasting about five minutes. Many others I have seen have to stretch the preliminaries in order to gather an audience, or seem to be learning as they go a bit too obviously.

I think too few streams grasp their own format: mobile. This also strikes me as a push-pull medium. The push notification is perfect for the medium, but the content needs to pull you in immediately because of its disruptive distribution process. I find myself impatient when I have to respond to too many stream alerts.

Bolthouse is onto something here with regularly scheduled Thirsty Thursday (3:30 PST) live streams. A weekly series in this channel telegraphs what the viewer can expect and the time commitment necessary. It suggests how a combination of spontaneous feel and structure can work in live streaming to craft satisfying branded adventures.   

This column was previously published by MediaPost in the June 9 edition of Moblog.

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