Commentary

A Clean Breast Of Things

Truth be told, I was one of those Italian-American kids who was pretty much raised by a coven of overbearing mothers. grandmothers, aunts and female cousins. There are about 50 downsides to being raised a boy in a matriarchal cult like this, not the least of which was the gauntlet all of my girlfriends had to suffer over the years. My sister still cracks a devilish grin remembering the carnage.

"Remember that girl, Theresa, you once dragged in here? Ever hear from her again? Did she recover?"

Another glaring problem with being the only Y chromosome in the compound is that you become invisible as a male and somehow become privy to all of the feminine secrets ordinarily hidden from the male world. By the time I was a teenage boy with raging hormones, I knew more than I should have about underwire, nail polish, and the relative merits of tampon brands.

With all of that, even I have to admit a certain titillating discomfort over Playtex's latest viral video hit across YouTube's online, mobile and set-top-box platform. On my iPhone, my feature phone, my Apple TV and my Web browser the most viewed video of the week is a one-minute bit of marketing genius showing female techniques for putting on a bra.

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Since late last year, Playtex has had a very humorous set of testimonial videos on YouTube with women discussing their breasts. Ha, Ha. Let's talk about "the girls." And aside from one blooper reel of the series, which garnered over 4 million views, most of these segments netted a few hundred thousand streams. The "Nightclub...Church" video, however, is the breakout hit in the series, and deservedly so. In a beautifully edited and paced set of takes, women go through the minute techniques and nuances of the bra-donning ritual.

I have been watching several mobile video content providers in the past year trying to package branded video channels and slip into the folders of Sprint TV brand messages. But this is the kind of creative execution I think is made for mobile. It is one minute long. It is eminently rewatchable and begs to be shared. Women will chortle in recognition and men like me will feel just a little squirmy with the frankness of it. The video has a definite story arc (scooping, strap adjustment, checking), and it even ends with a reflexive joke about itself, referring to the next lesson about putting on panties. It carries the brand (did I just say that, really?) throughout by its absence until the end. It plays exceptionally well on phones. The medium framing of one or two female figures and the one-minute play time seems almost devised for every phone I tried it with. My only disappointment is that the Verizon VCast iteration of the You Tube channel did not include it when I checked. Prudes.

This is the kind of branded video that the mobile eco-system needs to finance itself. It is not "viral video." It isn't "branded entertainment." And it certainly isn't a pre-roll. It is just a clever, funny short story, nicely told. Those are the qualities that make media mobile.

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