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Who Says Your Brand Can’t Star in Branded Social Video?

We all know it’s difficult to reach consumers with traditional ads in this incredibly fragmented media landscape. Brands need to make deeper emotional connections to break through and engage with consumers where they live: online. Enter Branded Social Video.

These pieces don’t make it their goal to interrupt what consumers are watching, nor is their goal to be all that consumers are watching for a duration. Instead, their goal is to get added to the YouTube play queue and watched between funny cat videos and the week’s greatest fails.

Two of the biggest names in this game are Lyft and GoPro. Virality may be a dirty word in the world of brand marketers, but these brands have achieved that and more: they’ve proven that short-form entertainment that has a brand in the foreground works, so long as authentic entertainment isn’t outweighed by inauthentic advertising.

This is a big deal in a time when people are running at full-tilt from the notion that having brands in the foreground is wrong for branded content, but the proof is in the views. Videos like Google’s "Code it Possible: Natarajan's journey begins" and Castrol’s “Titanium Ice” have over 20 million combined views. They are short, easily consumable, and most of all, compelling to watch because of product incorporation, not in spite of it.

Keeping the “brand” in branded video has merit. Just because the success of the 30 second spot is waning doesn’t mean heavily branded content is obsolete. It also doesn’t mean that you must become a full-blown movie studio to compete in the new media market. There is a middle ground, and more and more brands are finding it.


The diverse and complex social video market is growing rapidly, and focusing on a segmented digital market is the key to keeping up with that growth, according to independent research commissioned by Brightcove. Highlights of the report include the findings that consumers spend around 6 hours per week watching video content on social media networks, 74% of consumers said there was a connection between watching a video on social media and their purchasing decision-making process, and 46% of consumers have actually made a purchase because of watching a brand video on social media. For those stuck in the old TV model, the lesson is that reach doesn’t equal sales impact, as demonstrated by these findings. To get in on the results, brands need a multi-platform video strategy.


Kevin Hart partnered with Tom Patterson (CEO/Founder, Tommy John) last year to invest in and endorse Tommy John underwear. A year later, they’ve begun releasing a YouTube series titled “Kevin Hart’s Morning Briefing” – a miniseries that highlights the problems men have with their underwear, delivered in the patented Kevin Hart comedy style. The content itself was a collaborative effort between Tommy John’s creative team, Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat Productions, and Preacher, an agency out of Austin, Texas.


Castrol partnered with the Fast & Furious franchise to create an engaging video with layered concepts that incorporate AR and a fast car. The video features a supercharged Jaguar F-type bearing the Castrol logo. It is driven around by stunt driver Debbie Evans, who is shown wearing an AR headset that makes it appear to her and the viewer that a grouping of obstacles she must drive around emerge out of a frozen lake. Experts from UNIT9 were consulted to develop an AR headset that the driver could wear. The end result is a high-action driving experience that implements stunts and themes from the Fast & Furious franchise.


In an experience put together with Xfinity and the Fast & Furious franchise, two unsuspecting moviegoer/passengers are catapulted from watching a screening of the latest F&F film to being a part of it. The two participants thought they’d be watching a movie “Drive-In” style, but instead were driven by professionals onto a closed stunt course where they experienced the thrill from the films firsthand. The goal was to introduce an experiential event that captured the essence of the film all while creating a piece of alternative content to promote the movie.


Consumers of the internet age are all familiar with a new generation of brands such as Patagonia, Airbnb, Tesla, GoPro, Lush, and Monster that practice “non-advertising.” These brands have a reputation of having earned their place at the top as opposed to having paid to get there. They’ve helped change consumer behavior, as consumers are now on the lookout for other brands adopting the similar behaviors. Alex Smith (article author) places the responsibility in the hands of marketing departments, imploring them to apply a consistent and unique message built around a brand and a business. “Today, everything you do has the potential to be marketing. In the age of the internet, everyone has the opportunity to know everything about your business.” In short, people will be loyal to a business that represents itself authentically across all practices, including video.


While virality can’t be bottled, it can be studied to determine what drives a video’s success. Such is the case in the study of three of the most popular video campaigns of all time. Orabrush’s 15 million views on an early foray into online video yielded the sale of 10,000 products in a few weeks. Other examples include GoPro’s Fireman Saves Kitten from 2013 and the Always “Like a Girl” campaign from several years ago, which has been watched over 76 million times. The thesis is to come up with something that is only interruptive in the sense that people want to stop and watch it, not because they’re forced to.


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