Luxury brands will succeed only if they make us “feel closer to God” or “more attractive to the other sex,” said L2 Think Tank founder Scott Galloway. Does that mean prestige brands should be trying to create the next big viral video? Yes, but to do so they need to keep inspiration, authenticity, and creativity in mind, said the speakers at the July 28 L2: Video & Celebrity clinic.
And those speakers were the kind of people we should probably be listening to: The digital director of hugely successful nonprofit Charity: Water; the founder of digital communications agency Outside Line; the leader of YouTube’s Brand Engagement Products; the manager of comScore’s video products; and the CEO of YouCast, among others.
One of the day’s absolute highlights was Paull Young, director of digital for Charity: Water. Devoted to bringing fresh, clean water to the roughly one billion people in the world without it, much of Charity: Water’s success, said Young, comes from its commitment to high-quality, honest, and transparent online videos. The result: ROI – not return on investment, but return on inspiration.
As an example, Young shared two videos from the nonprofit’s well-drilling operations in a small village in the Central African Republic. The first video was a story gone sour: Operations around drilling the well had floundered and Charity: Water had to pull out. Months later, they shot a second video at the same location, when the well was finally successfully drilled. This dedication to online video, even when it doesn’t show his organization in the best light, said Young, has paid off tremendously. The key, for them, was to find somebody in the nonprofit to tell the story well. Transparency, it turns out, is an online bestseller.
On that same note, two of L2’s researchers, Andrea Derricks and Maureen Mullen, took conference attendees through their findings on the social video strategies of several prestige brands. One key takeaway from the study: You can’t beat authenticity, and the web is increasingly allowing customers to see through a company’s polished façade.
Despite some luxury brands’ best efforts to manufacture a slick online social presence, consumers still would rather watch their peers’ product reviews, no matter how bruised and bumped. Peer-to-peer recommendations, like those from a well-established vlogger, are turning the celebrity endorsement model on its head.
What does that mean for companies looking to create content with viral potential? Creativity is king, according to Outside Line founder and long-time new media manager Ant Cauchi. Consumers now understand marketing better than ever and the web enables anybody to become famous, he said, but there’s still space for prestige brands to get in on the action.
“Creativity with social networking… allows your brand to become its own celebrity, to become famous,” Cauchi explained. He pointed to videos produced by brands like Coca Cola, Volkswagen, and New Zealand Air as excellent examples of “a creative idea, well executed, [that] went viral.” Cutting through the marketing noise today, he said, involves creating something genuinely fun or useful, something that people will naturally want to get behind and share.