In this series of The Digital Thread we will discuss the pros and cons of different video marketing examples, from stategies to production styles – both good and bad. Beginning on a positive note, on this occasion we will be the discussing a hit from Sony.
There are often cases in video marketing efforts where the competition is an easy target – maybe that business is dominant in a particular sector that you have a stake in and it’s frustrating to see them succeed even where you are objectively offering a better product. What you may want to do with your video strategy is communicate how a competition’s product is inferior and how the customer should start using your product instead.
However, in these cases we feel it is a bit tasteless to jump straight to cut-throat “us vs. them” comparisons (contrast confrontational pieces with the light-hearted Samsung Galaxy vs. Apple iPhone hipster mockery series (with the latest standing at 17.7m views), or consider the jocular “I’m a PC, I’m a Mac” videos), where it may be easy for a smaller outfit to appear desperate (on the other hand, enticing rage amongst your competitor’s audience can bring you plenty of brand exposure too).
Microsoft chose to humorously abstain from the ongoing Samsung/Apple scrap, posting a video admitting with a defeatist tone, “Has anybody noticed us?” With a recent Windows Phone handset receiving Engadget’s Reader’s Choice Smartphone of the Year Award, it’s an ample opportunity for Microsoft to get the message out from its 7% market niche – attracting over 6 million views in just 60 days by making fun of the whole rabid favouritism.
Even if your product is only half as strong as these phones, do you really need to resort to the schoolyard tactics employed in these video marketing examples? Probably not – you may not have the necessary clout nor the loyal fanbase just yet.
Sony deliver the smackdown with what customers are already thinking
That’s not to say a little passive-aggressive-ism can’t work. Sony illustrated this wonderfully, and with excellent timing, during the annual E3 Electronics Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles last June. During a rabid period of excitement surrounding the renowned video games industry event, where new gaming tech (video game consoles, handhelds etc.) and games are announced, two of the biggest players – Sony and Microsoft – revealed their brand new gaming systems, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, respectively. One key thing to understand here is the enormous traction behind announcements like these, which only occur every few years. They act as huge PR machines to the online and print press, as well as directly via the various brands’ channels, playing a major deciding factor in what gamers around the world are expecting to buy into, placing pre-orders for favourites. Gamers pour in from all around the world to tune into every trailer and every product demo they can find.
Following the major controversy (just see the rallying from Xbox fans in that article’s comments) that on Xbox One video game sharing (including loaning and renting) would be severely restricted or impossible due to built-in DRM, and the console would require a perpetual on-line connection in order to function as advertised, Sony published the Official PlayStation Used Game Instructional Video on YouTube.
The video features Sony execs “demonstrating” how simple it is to share games on PlayStation 4 – simply hand a disk copy to your friend. Job done.
We feel it’s the dramatic “relaxation” music and smooth Sony “ribbon” style motion graphic spelling out, “Step 1: Sharing the game” that brings out the humour in this video. Of course, Microsoft is never mentioned even indirectly anywhere in the short clip (whereas the ubiquitous white iPod earphones feature heavily in Samsung’s). Yet the audience watching knows exactly what controversy Sony are referring to, and the message is clear: we know you think they’re wrong; we’re were doing it right anyway.
By 8:30 GMT on the day it was uploaded, Tanglewood noticed this 22 second clip had amassed over 3 million views on YouTube. Surpassing our predictions, within 24 hours this had almost tripled to just under 9 million views. It currently stands at 13.7 million views, 197,000 Facebook Shares, 306,000 Facebook Likes and over 75,000 Tweets. And it (judging by the comments) is still pushing this message out to gamers amongst heated debate on Digital Rights Management, weeks after Microsoft went as far as almost completely reversing their policy in response. Considering a 22 second clip featuring your own staff is unlikely to come with an especially enormous budget, now that’s pretty good ROI.
In this way Sony have established themselves as an authority in delivering to their customers what they want, and their current advertising runs with this theme. Some might wonder whether Microsoft are ever going to be able to recover from this PR disaster, that ultimately began with failing to identify what gamers were really passionate about (freedom to play games anyhow they want). The video has been posted on a plethora of gaming and tech sites ranging from hundreds of independent blogs to high profile tech sites and even the “viral video farm” and humour site B3ta and commuter newspaper Metro. It doesn’t help (Microsoft at least) that in the games industry journalists are very passionate due to their own love for the medium – a contemporary high tech audience-come-ambassador “growing up” on the Internet is going to be especially receptive to this type of video campaign. And even for those not technically initiated, anyone can understand Sony’s sentiments over something as simple as sharing physical possessions (something consumers are clearly hanging onto).
Thoughts to take away
While your business obviously can’t rely on a video to solve all your problems if your product isn’t targeting the right needs, it might be able to maximise the emotional and explanatory efficiency of video to quickly highlight advantages on the competition or sneak a position into a debate. But not only that, combine it with the perfect timing as part of a Video Marketing Strategy to enjoy a staggeringly powerful viral strike against your rivals. By combining business intelligence on your competitors with a tactful way of communicating your USP you can work with your video production company to devise a video that is more likely to see similar success.
This is our first post in the Digital Thread series, so look out for more Video Marketing (and Video SEO) insights from us. Subscribe to our RSS feed and follow us on Twitter for updates. If you feel you could use some help with your own video marketing and Video SEO eforts, feel free to get in touch.