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If you’re not already aware of the Shield 5 series on Instagram, go and watch it now.
To me it is a perfect example of just how ridiculously far we’ve come with social media since MySpace first became the next big thing all those years ago.
Not only that, but if people react positively to it I think we could see much more of this type of content on Instagram, and no doubt brands will want to get involved with their own series.
What is Shield 5?
28 episodes of 15 seconds each, the series began on 1 February and will run until the end of the month (give or take a day).
That’s seven minutes in total, stunted even for a short film and arguably more difficult to bring together given the choppy nature of the clips.
But with the likes of Anthony Wilcox (Hot Fuzz, Layer Cake, Pearl Harbour) and Example on board, along with some seriously high-budget production values, Shield 5 certainly has all the makings of a hit.
The series is a kind of ‘whodunnit’ detective story, with viewers being given clues along the way.
With the ability to comment on each ‘clue’, it not only becomes a kind of interactive experience but also creates an instant community of fans around the series who can discuss it in real time.
***POTENTIAL SPOILER IN NEXT IMAGE***
Why should marketers care?
To me, the interesting part of this comes not just from the fact it is split into 28 tiny clips, although of course that will draw people’s interest.
But as someone working in the digital marketing world I’m particularly interested in the idea of using Instagram to tell an extremely engaging story that keeps people coming back for more every day.
The series isn’t only made up of video clips. Between each instalment there’s also an image that adds to the story.
This is the part I find particularly interesting when thinking about it from a marketing point of view: the idea of brands telling intriguing stories through a mixture of still images and video on Instagram.
Throw a few cinemagraphs in there and you’ve got the whole package.
Could brands replicate its success?
So is there an opportunity for marketers here? Or am I just looking for an excuse to write about something I happen to find quite cool?
I’m convinced it’s the former. And here’s why.
Obviously not every brand is going to have the time or equipment to create something as elaborate as Shield 5 on Instagram.
Most companies could probably stretch the budget to a half-decent camera such as a GoPro, and most companies are likely to have some creative talent in-house.
In fact, a lot of brands already have been experimenting with this type of social series.
MINI’s #asktheNEWMINI project proved a big hit in 2014, inviting people to ask the car a question on Instagram with a chance the next instalment would answer it.
Gap produced its own Instagram mini-series last year in the form of #SpringIsWeird, AKA ‘the weirdest story ever Instagrammed’.
And KFC created its own rather humorous effort with The Colonel’s ‘Fryer-side chats’, a play on Franklin D Roosevelt’s famous fireside chats back in the 30s and 40s.
But while the three examples above are undoubtedly creative, I would be interested to see a brand take influence from Shield 5 and produce a series that tells a story which slowly builds to some kind of climax at the end.
I think it would be a fantastic way to create a buzz around a brand and get people engaged with it for a period of time.
Charities could particularly benefit from something like this, telling an emotional story in a traditional arc: set the scene in the first couple of episodes, create intrigue, draw people through the story and hit them with a ‘punchline’ in the closing episodes that stays in their memory.
Although for brands I think anything longer than a month would be pushing your luck...
Conclusion: another opportunity for creative marketing
In this modern world of endless data and algorithms it can be difficult to remember that marketing, when you break it down, is still very much a creative profession.
With the rise of more visual communication on social media, we are beginning to see a new wave of creativity in the marketing space. I for one think that is a good thing. A very good thing.
Shield 5 is an example of the film industry being beautifully innovative on social media. It would be great to see marketers take inspiration from this and start telling their own stories in this engaging and emotionally resonating way.
What do you think? Could marketers replicate the Shield 5 idea or should we leave this style of storytelling to the film industry?