Special Report: Brand Livestream
Kevin Best, Contributing Editor, BrandStorytelling.tv
Highlighting Impactful Live Streaming
Sundance Film Festival Turns to Livestreaming for the First Time
The 44th annual Sundance Film Festival went virtual this year for the first time. The event, normally held in Park City, Utah every year in January, was able to be held in person last year pre-Covid, and was attended by festival goers and attendees of Brand Storytelling 2020: A Sanctioned Event of the Sundance Film Festival. This year things were obviously different and the festival pivoted to a totally at-home experience. From January 28th to February 3rd, the festival’s website held livestreams for over 70 movies, and also various panels and events.
Sundance wanted to keep the feel of a real festival as much as possible, so multiple films were streamed simultaneously, forcing viewers to pick and choose what they watched. Every film was followed by a livestreamed Q and A with the filmmakers, which viewers could participate in. There was also an “Artist’s Lounge” page, which had talks, meet and greets for the virtual attendees, and Q and As with festival artists. All of this was through the Sundance Film Festival app, which was available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and also on mobile devices through Android and iOs. The movie player was powered by Shift72, a New Zealand based livestream platform known for their work with film festivals, which includes South by Southwest and the Cannes Film Festival.
A ticket to a single film could be purchased for $15, while there was also an all-access Festival Pass for $350 that allowed remote viewers to see everything they possibly could on the schedule. There was also the Explorer’s Pass, which gave access to all programs categorized in New Frontier, which includes immersive sound projects and VR, the Indie Series, which focuses on pilots and full seasons of Indie shows, and Short Films. Individual movie streaming tickets lasted 24 hours from first screening times. For those who wanted to journey outside of their homes, Sundance also partnered with various art house cinemas and drive-ins to have “Satellite Screens” from Birmingham to San Francisco with some of the films available to view in theaters. Everything wrapped up with an awards show hosted by Patton Oswalt. CODA, a film about a hearing child who has deaf parents, won the grand jury prize, the directing award, and the audience award.
Several brands helped sponsor the festival, with Acura, the Chase Sapphire credit card, and Adobe joining Sundance TV as the main “Presenting Sponsors”. And while brands usually can be found with interactive activities on Main Street in Park City, this year Sundance gave them a webpage where viewers could check out the different offerings from sponsors. Adobe offered several events about the “art of editing,” while Chase Saphire sponsored chats with various directors. While it was a much different experience than in years past, this year did its best to capture the essence of the traditional festival.
Recent Live Streams from Top Brands
Slushii Live on Twitch
Event: Mucinex Back2TheRhythmFast livestream concert
Date: January 25
The cold and flu brand Mucinex partnered with Livenation to throw a livestream benefit concert on Twitch with rising EDM artists Slushii, whose YouTube page has 493k subscribers, and Daya, whose YouTube has 765k subs. The concert, titled Back2TheRhythmFast, was only viewable live on Livenation’s Twitch page, which has 4.2k followers. Slushii began the day performing at 3pm EST, and then Daya finished out the concert starting at 8pm EST. Mucinex and Livenation were aiming to shed light on the struggles of the people behind the scenes in the live music industry who have been out of work. Mucinex made a donation of $50k to Crew Nation, a global fund that supports concert crew members. In between the music, testimonials from real crew members played, where they talked about how hard the past year has been for everyone in the industry.
Pringles + Microsoft Twitch Stunt
Brand: Pringles, Microsoft
Event: Pringles partners with Xbox game West of Dead for Twitch stunt
Date: January 27
Pringles continued a new campaign centered around a zombie named Frank to promote the recent Xbox video game West of Dead, this time with a livestream surprise. On the popular gamer Leah’s Twitch page, which has 167k followers, Leah livestreamed as she played the game while eating a well-placed can of Pringles. The camera began to shake and an actor dressed as Frank the Gaming Zombie came out of her game, wanting her chips. The stunt recreated a recent commercial from Pringles where the same thing happens to a guy playing the video game. Pringles has made a series of recent ads with Frank, but this was a new approach. The character Frank will supposedly be “invading” a few more Twitch streams before being added to the video game on February 10th.
5 Hours of Crafts
Brand: 5-Minute Crafts
Event: 5-Minute Crafts livestreamed “5 Hours of Crafts” during the SuperBowl
Date: February 7
The popular YouTube channel 5-Minute Crafts, which has 70 million subscribers, ran a special livestream titled “5 Hours of Crafts” to offer counter-programming to the Big Game. The marathon crafting session started before kickoff, and ran all the way through the trophy presentations. As well as its strong presence on YouTube, the brand also has 40 million followers on its Instagram page, and 8 million on TikTok and Snapchat. It’s no surprise that the short-form, positive content of the brand has really taken off in the last year, with people having more time at home to try crafting. The brand even has a whole category of instructional videos on its Youtube channel called Stay at Home.
ON THE RADAR
Opportunities for Brands
Beauty Brands Turning More and More to Shoppable Livestreams on Social Media
Beauty brands have suffered greatly the last year due to brick and mortar stores no longer being a realistic way to sell to customers. Several of them have been turning to livestream platforms like Instagram, Vimeo, Socialive, and Bambuser to help boost sales with streamable shopping and tutorials.
Ulta Beauty closed all of its 1,264 stores early last year due to Covid-19. And while Ulta’s app has allowed users to virtually “try on” products through augmented reality in its GLAMlab since 2019, they have been looking more towards livestream recently. The Ulta Beauty School Live Virtual Masterclass is a series of livestreams, all around 25 minutes in length, where different brands and influencers showcase skincare and makeup products. The products are all clickable for purchase under a “featured products” section below the video on the website, and are also being shared on Instagram LIVE.
The skincare brand Dermalogica has also been doing livestreams on its website through Bambuser, a Swedish company whose slogan is “broadcast your brand.” Bambuser allows brands to have their products “carousel” in front of viewers during live videos. Dermologica also uses both Vimeo and Instagram LIVE, often trying to encourage buyers by offering free gifts with purchases. On Instagram, they have a weekly livestream about skin-care topics, which also allows them to recommend products that appear on screen.
Beautycounter, a multi-level marketing and cosmetics company, has even taken things a step further by recently creating a livestream studio inside their actual store in Venice, California. Customers can shop on their website while watching live videos, while certain products are highlighted directly under the video feed. To make this possible, Beautycounter worked with both Bambuser and Socialive. The livestreams are broadcast both on the website and on Beautycounter’s social channels.
These beauty brands and others in the industry are no doubt being inspired by the success of shoppable streaming overseas in China. During Alibaba's Singles Day shopping festival last year, its platform Taobao Live saw over $7 billion in sales in the first half hour alone. US beauty brands are hoping that American shoppers will soon follow suit.
About Kevin Best
Kevin Best is a writer and film critic who lives in Los Angeles, California. He is the host of the podcast Sequel Rewrite, and is working on his first novel.