Don't Let the Messenger Over-power the Message

Today I had lunch with a friend and colleague, and after we talked shop over a grande mocha frap with light whip (me), and a raspberry ice tea lemonade thingy (him).  We got to talking about the power of social media (shocker!) and the vital role that video plays in an online social media marketing campaign (double shocker!) We discussed how comedy in video plays such a key role in helping it go viral. He went on to tell me about this hilarious video he saw the other day called “Trunk Monkey.”

The video shows this guy breaking into a car. We cut to a monkey in the trunk reading a magazine when his emergency light goes off. He exits the trunk and enters the car via a secret door in the back seat. He then proceeds to beat the would-be car thief with a crowbar, drives him to a bridge, the dumps him off the edge. As my friend described it, we were both laughing.

I asked him what the product was and he said, “Hmmm? I’m not sure. I think it was some kind of car alarm system maybe. I can’t really remember.”

This is not an uncommon phenomena. How many times have you seen a funny or intriguing commercial but couldn’t remember for the life of you what the commercial was selling? In agency’s attempt to win the next coveted award, they come up with these grandiose and/or extremely clever ideas, and execute them flawlessly. There’s only one problem. They often are more memorable than the product they’re selling. The messenger (the video/commercial) has over-powered the message.

If you’re going to invest in a video campaign to help market your business (whether it’s a promo video, a spoof, or original online programming), you mustn’t lose sight of the primary objective: getting the message out about your product or service.

Here are three things to keep in mind when producing an online video campaign:

  1. Make the “benefit” the hero of the story: whatever the benefit or problem-solving solution your product or service provides should be the thing that drives the story or saves the day.
  2. Make your brand part of the title: this sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised at how many times something as simple as mentioning the product name is NOT done.
  3. KISS It: Keep Is Simple Stupid (I’m not calling you stupid, that’s just the meaning of the acronym).  You don’t need a lot of flashy effects and filters to make an effective video. Good story telling, solid production values, and a great script is the only recipe you need.

Here are some famous video campaigns that did it right:

  • BMW Fillms: this 2000-2001 online video series starring Clive Owen creatively and effectively integrated the capabilities of the car into each storyline.
  • Blendtec’s “Will It Blend”: these videos are both humorous and effective at displaying the sheer power of Blendtec’s star product.
  • Got Milk: easily one of the most amazingly successful commercial campaigns of all time (think of all the “Got___” knock off slogans you’ve seen). They had great writing and focused on the benefits of milk. The campaign was also a good example of using the brand name in the title.

We’re currently in the process of building a new portfolio of work to illustrate these concepts. We’re very excited about the people and companies we’re working with and as they’re completed, we’ll be sure to post them here. But our motto going forth will be this:

If a viewer comes away watching a video we’ve made for a client and their first impression is “Wow, cool video,” instead of “wow, cool product” then we’ve failed.

We’re not out to win awards and prove how cool our editing can be. We’re out to do one thing: use solid, sustainable filmmaking techniques, combined with smart marketing, and effective new media distribution,to get results for our clients.  I’m excited about what the future has in store. Stay tuned.