It may be easier than ever i for a brand to reach a worldwide audience. But because media has saturated the whole world, it may be harder than ever to get people anywhere to pay attention.
So when Lenovo, the world’s biggest PC brand, wanted to continue its “Goodweird” campaign hyping its Yoga laptops, it hit on the idea of making entertaining branded videos, for the strategically important Russian, Indian and North American markets,
Portal A, a digital studio based in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and works on global campaigns that use YouTube to get their messages across, landed the assignment.
The videos officially hit today. I think it’s always iffy to suppose virality, but that’s clearly the idea behind these things. They’re produced with the guiding hands of Portal A’s production and creative direction but made by YouTube creators, ViralFever in India, EEOneGuy in Russia and Matt Santoro, a Canadian who has been making fun/educational YouTube videos for the last five years.
All of those YouTubers bring a built-in fan base, but their videos for Lenovo hardly seem hard sell. Santoro’s video, for example, is titled “Amazing Facts About Water You Never Knew” and features a reference to Lenovo (“my good friends at Lenovo”) and a placement of the “goodweird” tag. Otherwise, it is mostly about. . .water.
The Viral Fever video is the most “produced” video. It's a spaghetti Western, Indian-style--a “Goodweird Production” according to the theatrical-movie type film credits as the video unspools. (It also went up on YouTube at the end of October, unlike the others.) The Russian video, by YouTuber Ivan Guy (EEOneGuy) is a mockingly tacky, over the top music video, a kind of “Gangnam Style” for the potato vodka crowd. At the time this blog is being posted on MediaPost, it is more toward Dec 2 than Dec.1 in Russia but it already has nearly a half million views.
The videos live on the YouTubers’ channels; a compilation reel goes to Lenovo’s YouTube site
“This is not hit-you-over-the-head advertising,” says Zach Blume, Portal A managing partner. “We speak to a new audience that can’t be reached by traditional means.” Lenovo, as it turns out, was a good partner. “Some brands struggle with projects like this,” Blume says. “But they had a clear objective and a clear sense of the geography where they wanted their message to go.”
So, Lenovo got it. At some point when Portal A is creating a video project for a client, the advertiser has to learn to get out of the way and trust that the video and the young YouTubers that are usually behind it.
For these videos, Lenovo, Portal A and YouTube all worked together to figure out what they wanted and then, with the assistance of some 30 Portal A creative types, the YouTube stars got the chance to make a “dream” video far more elaborate than their usual ones. Portal A’s association with YouTube, Blume says, is a great asset; It works with the social network on its end-of-the-year Rewind video, a kind of YouTube’s-greatest hits video.
Do these things work on some oh-so-subtle (or even better?) level? Lenovo means to find out. Maureen Ahmad, Lenovo’s director of brand market strategy, says the China/North Carolina-based PC maker (fourth largest in the U.S.) is working with YouTube on an “awareness and consideration study,”
“We realize that what we're balancing in the creative is the need to preserve the creator's voice with the desire to get across our brand's message, so we went very light with the brand message,” she said in an email exchange. “The first survey, in India, does show an increase in purchase consideration, especially among the key 18-24-year-old audience, so that is a good sign that our connection in this very authentic way to the creators can resonate.
“But we didn't heavily supervise the script at all. Our goal was to get content that the creators loved, so that they and their fans would be excited by it.”