Spencer Waldron, Regional Director and Head of Story for Europe at Prezi, spoke at the Festival of Marketing about creating binge-worthy video content. Can adverts ever become binge-worthy?
Walson believes they could, so long as brands start focusing on storytelling over product.
Make it memorable
Results from the aforementioned Prezi research showed a year-on-year increase in respondents being able to recall brand content after a period of three days (20% in 2017 vs. 46% in 2018). This suggests that brands are making significant effort and progress when it comes to being able to grab and hold our attention through content. However, given the prevalent sense of disillusionment exhibited by those surveyed, there still seems to be a long way to go.
It can be difficult to predict future changes in the consumption of video, but providing the viewer with a thought-provoking story remains a constant in some of the most memorable campaigns of all time.
In particular, Waldron recalls an advert produced by Nuffield Health, entitled ‘Derek’s Story’.
What first jumps out about this advert is the emotive and quite detailed way in which Derek tells his story. He is sat informally, and speaking directly into the camera, which helps to build an almost instant connection with the viewer. Whilst he speaks about his story of recovery, the camera regularly cuts away to Derek participating in a variety of different activities at his local Nuffield Health gym. By intertwining these shots whilst maintaining focus on Derek’s dialogue, Nuffield Health strikes the perfect balance between emotive storytelling and product placement. Once the advert has concluded, viewers may be encouraged to reflect upon their own wellbeing, consider improving it and (most importantly) make a decision about who can provide them with the assistance to do so.
Be more Hermione Granger
Too often brands try to be all things to all people; putting the hero product at the forefront of their marketing campaigns and attempting to present it as the solution to all of life’s problems. Instead, Waldron suggests that brands be more Hermione Granger, and less Harry Potter:
Everybody wants to be Harry Potter and not Hermione Granger. They want to be the hero of every story… why not be the supporting character?
By focusing on one or two key struggles that the customer is experiencing, you can take on the persona of a supporting character, rather than automatically embodying the hero. Waldron stresses the importance of keeping these struggles relatable and attainable to the average consumer, so that you appear more empathetic, trustworthy and genuine. As a result, the viewer will be more likely to reflect upon whether the product and/or impact of the story will help them become a better version of themselves:
Nike doesn’t tell me about the shoe, but that I can be a better athlete. It’s taken me to a place in the future that I want to get to.
A great example of this is Red Bull’s ‘4pm Finish’ campaign, which coincided with the National 4pm Finish Day on 14th September this year. For most of the population enduring a 9-5 slog, finishing at 4pm on a Friday may be a small, achievable goal, but can feel like a big victory. Red Bull persuaded the consumer throughout this campaign that only its brand could facilitate that accomplishment.
Improving your own stories
If you’re a content marketer, it can sometimes be difficult to find new ways of inventing engaging stories that reinvent the same products. According to Waldron, inspiration can come from sources that are closer than you think. Here are his two top tips for improving your storytelling:
- Think about stories that you have encountered that have stuck with you for a long time. This doesn’t have to be promotional content, it could be from film or television. What did you love about it, and why? What parts of the story were visually interesting?
- Be mindful about story over product. Find out more about the origins of your brand. How did the company get started? Why did the first customer buy or use the product? And what shared values do you have with your target audience?
It is important to remember that great video content doesn’t have to cost the earth. You can even include user-generated testimonials or behind the scenes footage, as long as you have a solid story from which you can develop. Indeed, Waldron professes that “showing people behind the curtain can be quite valuable… and makes your brand seem more authentic.”
A day in the life of… head of creative production at a mobile video ad company