Anyone working in the creative services industry will relate to this video. Hopefully those who don’t will appreciate the satire and irony.
Video is a very powerful and effective way to communicate. We’re going to be seeing more videos like this one.
Brave New Films is an organization at the leading edge of video activism. It creates news magazine style videos that examines / ‘exposes’ a range of political issues. Recently it has turned it’s sights on the ‘socially conscious’ Starbucks. The above video details a variety of anti-union activities that Starbucks has allegedly taken part in recently and it encourages viewers to spread the word. The production values are very good and I’m certain it has Starbuck’s full attention.
In a previous post I talked about how Dominos had used YouTube to respond to a PR crisis it was facing. Domino’s was harmed and the CEO spoke out honestly and emphatically that his company was doing everything it could to make the best of a bad situation. This new video calls out Starbucks and directly challenges CEO Howard Shultz. Should Starbucks respond to this video with their own video? Yes they should, but in a very different manner than Domino’s had chosen.
Shultz won’t respond directly to the accusations in this video because it’s a discussion he can never ‘win’. Some topics – abortion, gun control, the death penalty etc. are emotionally charged with as many advocates as opponents. Most politicians / business leaders chose to avoid these types of issues wherever possible. Should Starbucks avoid this issue? Of course not – the social media channels are alight with this discussion and it isn’t going to go away. Starbucks has to find a way to communicate its position on employment (unions) without getting sucked into a vortex of angry politics and vitriol (check out the comments on YouTube to get a sense of the passion behind this topic). Starbucks is a business – it would prefer not to have unions operating in its stores – no surprise there. The self-inflicted added burden that Starbucks carries is that it has tried to position itself as a caring and socially consious company. (WalMart, by contrast has never been hobbled by this positioning.)
The timing of this video coincides with a major marketing campaign by Starbucks that attempts to position the company as rethinking and resetting its goals and reaching out to its various constitutiencies. In other words, the timing couldn’t be worse. So what would you do if you were leading Starbucks PR team?
When you own a premium brand you have to spend premium dollars to support it.
Channel has just released their newest commercial / mini-movie and as before, have done a wonderful job. Last time it was Nicole Kidman in a three minute short film (or a three minute long commercial). This time around Audrey Tautou – one of France’s national treasures – graces the screen for Channel. North Americans might remember her as ‘Amelie’ in one of the few French films to get theatre time back in 2001. The Director of that film – Jean-Pierre Jeunet directs this commercial and was given a free hand in creating Channel’s newest filmette. Naturally he cast his favourite actress (it didn’t hurt that Tautou is also playing Coco Channel in the recently released film ’Coco Avant Channel’ in France) in the lead role.
The story (not that it matters a whit) centres around a chance encounter on a train to Istanbul. Tautou spends the remaining two minutes waiting and hoping to hook up with the handsome stranger. A sudden romance on a night train to an exotic destination – ya, it`s cliche. Romance and mystery and the promise of adventure – that`s what you buy when you drop $100 or more for a little bottle of purfume – the promise of something exciting. That`s exactly what Channel is selling, and they are quite good at it.
You have to give Jeunet top marks for his direction. He spared no expense (watch `the making of` to see what kind of coin they dropped on this little video) at creating some asbolutely stunning sequences. He`s come a long way since his last big North American film - he directed the last Alien film (I think it was called Alien Abomination). Like the perfume Jeunet is selling, this video won`t be for everyone but for those who it targets, he hits the mark perfectly.
Video sages declare convergence is upon us!
Chad Hurley, CEO and founder of YouTube declared earlier this year that we are now in a transition where the use of, and differences between TV and online video are beginning to blur. In a video interview for Sky News Hurley suggests that consumption of online video and television content will simply coalesce into ‘video’ that will be viewed wherever and whenever the user wants – in the family room, on your laptop, on a mobile device or on other portable network devices.
Paul Sagan took it a step further in his key note address yesterday at the Streaming Media East Conference by declaring that we have reached the ‘tipping point’ where consumers will now start to view online video the same way they view television. Sagan, the CEO of the global content delivery network, Akamai refers to Malcolm Gladwell’s use of the term ’tipping point’ being when a critical mass is reached in the adoption of new product or technology a new market/service becomes firmly and finally entrenched.
Sagan points to recent online events such as the Obama Inauguration and NCAA “March Madness” where comparable numbers of viewers watched events online and on television. Sagan also points out that online HD video is the game changer where “Internet quality now matches TV.”
Ignoring the fact that it is in both of their interests to herald the arrival of a convergence that will bring millions of dollars (assuming YouTube works out the advertising thing) to their companies, it’s difficult to argue that convergence is not happening. If the only question left is when, not if, then what are the consequences of this convergence?
1. Ad dollars will migrate. Assuming a fixed promotion pool television, newspaper and radio advertising will continue to take a hit. Old media companies have to adapt to survive. Denial isn’t a particularly good long term strategy.
2. The video ad unit will never be the same. Ad agencies have followed a simple formula over the past 50 years: Create something memorable in 30 seconds. No standards exist online and in spite of everyones’ best efforts no ‘standard’ will emerge in the short term. Online viewing behaviours and content formats continue to change – so will the ads that pay for all that content.
3. Interactivity changes everything. By and large video is still video, today – a linear medium consumed in a relatively ‘lean-back’ position. Immersive technologies, gaming, behavioural targeting of content (not ads), multiple endings of entertainment content, next generation ad placement (real time changes to video), new 3D formats and who knows what else is going to change how we consume and monetize content.
4. Content formats are fluid. Movies are 90 minutes, television is either 1 hour (44 minutes) or 1/2 hour (22 minutes). Pretty simple. Advertising will have to adapt to new content formats. “Two minutes is the ‘right length’ for an online promotional video, correct?” Who knows? “No one watches any video online for more than 30 minutes right?” Wrong. Advertisers and television producers set the agenda and pretty much stuck to it over the last 50 television years. Online is different. The Internet is a big sandbox where everyone gets to play. We will continue to discover new styles and formats and approaches to online content creation for the rest of our viewing days. Not only will content owners begin to shift their content online, they will begin to do things with their content that they never could have imagined in the next few years
5. Communications will continue to become much more visual… more engaging. Show me don’t tell me. No, text isn’t dead, but it’s doing less and less of the work online.
6. Online measurement/metrics will drive results. Advertisers will begin to see exactly with whom, why, where, when and how their ads worked. Privacy issues aside, we’ll begin telling everyone – either overtly through our actions or covertly by our behaviours – how we feel about their content.
7. Sharing and collaborating really is a big deal. Engaging social networks and reaching out to the twittering masses isn’t possible via television. Online not only is it possible it’s necessary. Creating content that is intended to be shared (and critiqued and reconstructed and parodied) adds a new level of complexity to content creation.
Brightroll Networks, one of the largest video advertising networks has published it’s Q1/09 report which surveyed 150 ad agencies across the US. Tod Sacerdoti, CEO and founder of Brightroll stated “Online video advertising is increasingly being pushed to the forefront of marketing budget discussions amongst agency executives and CMOs.”
Some highlights from the report:
1. Despite media backlash, pre-roll is still the dominant and most effective ad unit.
2. In spite of the increase in popularity of online video advertising a lack of data around video advertising efficacy is stopping some from pursuing online video advertising more aggressively.
3. 87% of respondents to the survey stated the plan to spend more on online video advertising. (13% said less)
4. The report concluded that agencies need to stop re purposing TV content and use multiple, lower-cost creative assets that better target response rates for campaigns online.
5 The majority of respondents expect online CPM prices to decrease either marginally or significantly next year.
A few months a go it was a flash mob dancing in Liverpool station. This time around it’s a sing-along in Trafalgar Square.
T-Mobile continues to embrace event-based promotions to support their Life’s for Sharing marketing campaign. It’s working well for them. T-Mobile enticed a large crowd (mob) to gather in Trafalgar square to take part in a massive ‘dance activity’ - like the Liverpool stunt, but bigger. Instead of dancing (selected) people were handed microphones and the mob was encouraged to belt out a fourteen thousand strong version of Hey Jude. Multiple cameras throughout the audience captured the love.
The video makes you smile and I have to imagine that Sir Paul approves (legally or otherwise). While it is different in structure from the Liverpool Station video it is similar enough in approach that I don’t believe it will create quite the same buzz this time around. It’s still better than most viral videos in that it directly and obviously supports a specific market positioning – ‘Lifes for Sharing’, it is very well done and it is very engaging (very shareable). I imagine T-Mobile will be back at it in a few months with something even ‘newer and fresher.’
The back-story around these events is almost as important as the events themselves. Pink was in the crowd to perform a few songs and to work the crowd into a performance-ready pitch. There are as many “I was this close to Pink” camera phone videos as there are “This is me taking part in the song” videos on YouTube. This participatory approach is very smart as it promotes viral and social engagement .
It’s interesting to wade through the criticism of these types of events: “It’s fake”, “It’s staged”, “It’s just a big ad for T-Mobile”. Sure it is, so what? All those people and cameras… and Pink… didn’t show up on their own. One blogger commented that she refused payment to promote the event on her blog and was torn about even mentioning the video. I’m surprised that people still don’t realize that video seeding and PR and a million other promotional activities are an integral (essential) part of the ‘viral’ success of these videos.