The word “viral” is a term that gets used a lot these days. People want their content to “go viral”. But “going viral” and creating something that will make your target audience engage with your brand are two different things. If you watched the video above, you’ve heard all you need to know about how to grow your brand the right way; by caring passionately about your audience and giving them everything you have to offer, every time, and expecting nothing in return but their trust.
Twenty One Pilots is a duo from Columbus, Ohio. They have under 14,000 likes on their Facebook page. They also only have close to 3,500 followers* on Twitter. These numbers aren’t small, but they aren’t the huge numbers to really be considered “viral”. So how did they manage to get the attention of some of the hottest national record companies and sign a deal?
They did things right.
How so? First, they teamed up with the right people to generate buzz. The most important connection was with Mark C. Eshleman at Reel Bear Media, a Columbus-based video production company. The team started off with a hit - the first video that they released on their Youtube page was a live live cover of Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts”, which gained thousands of views within days of being posted. The original song was at the top of the charts at the time, so the band was able to generate a huge amount of exposure with their timely video post. They were able to catch people’s attention at the right time, and more importantly they gained a large Youtube audience from the start.
While they had a fan base before, they now had a bigger audience - the internet.
Twenty One Pilots - Tyler Joseph and Josh Dunn. Image from twentyonepilots.com
When it came time to promote their album Regional At Best, the group created a web series (which bears the same name) that lead up to a rock star performance of the first track from the CD - Guns for Hands, which gained thousands of views within a short period of time. The fans responded; when the band played their next big performance at The Newport in Columbus, Ohio a few months later, it’s no surprised that the show was completely sold out. This was the first time the venue had ever sold out with a local act. According to the above video, that night was the most important night in the history of the band up to that point. So how do you follow up a sold out stellar performance like this? With not one but four videos, of course. Record companies started to notice the band, and were able to track the number of views generated from the show. Almost every video gained over 30k views in a matter of a few months. It gave Twenty One Pilots more than enough leverage to be in the position to choose between a handful of record labels. They eventually chose Fueled by Ramen, which is the home to such bands as Paramore, Gym Class Heroes, and Panic! At The Disco. And how did they announce the news? With a video, of course.
While Twenty One Pilots is far from being a viral Youtube sensation like bands such as Ok Go, the band’s awareness of the benefits of online video content was a huge factor in their ability to gain exposure. Beyond Youtube, the band was successful in creating an engaging brand. Not just through the occasional tweet or Facebook status update - they let you into their world. They reward their fans’ loyalty with intimatevideos and exclusive news. They create a ever-growing relationship with their fans. Every brand needs to do this in order to be successful - does your brand accomplish this? Maybe then you’ll be able to say “It wasn’t always like this.” before diving into a crowd of 2000 of your screaming fans.
*These numbers have been growing since this post was first written.
Procter & Gamble is an advertising Goliath. Dollar Shave Club was an unknown 2 weeks ago. Thanks to brilliant advertising, Dollar Shave Club is going to take the fun out of being a brand manager for Gillette (owned by P&G) for the foreseeable future.
Basically, with a video that’s gone viral and a website, Dollar Shave Club has just taken the process of buying razors out of drug stores and grocery stores and moved it to a subscription service with no need for fancy packaging, expensive TV campaigns, coupons or the help of superstar celebrities.
Fast Company describes the ad:
In its parody-toned ad, the company CEO takes us on a tour of the Dollar Shave Club warehouse. He seems almost aggressively committed to the product he’s hawking–angry that people would be foolish enough to buy razors any other way than from a club. “Do you like spending $20/month on razors? 19 go to Roger Federer,” the CEO says, catching a tennis racket thrown from offscreen. “I’m good at tennis,” he promises, immediately swinging for a ball thrown his way, missing it, and moving along.
It turns out the guy in the video really is the founder and CEO of the new start-up, Michael Dubin. What’s more surprising, though, is the fact that he made the ad himself.
“The world is filled with bad commercials and people who are marketing too hard,” Dubin says. “I think what we wanted to do is not take ourselves too seriously, and deliver an irreverent smart tone.”
Dubin wrote the spot last October and shot it with his good friend and co-director, Lucia Aniello. It cost about $4,500 and the team managed to bang it out in a single day, shooting on location at the actual factory warehouse, at their fulfillment center in Gardena, California.
All the dollars on R&D at P&G aren’t going to survive the onslaught of common sense behind the basic premise of Dollar Shave Club- razor blades shouldn’t cost a small fortune. People know when they’ve been taken for a ride, but without any alternative in the Schick/Gillette duopoly, the only price war we’ve seen previously is how high can they go- and with a simple, classic counter-strike the entire market has been transformed. Granted, those without Internet access may not find their way to cheaper shaves, but, at these prices a cottage industry of resellers may just sprout up, because even the cheap disposable razors aren’t as cheap as DSC.
The only option left to the ransom kings of shaving blades is to quickly buy out DSC or his manufacturer in China and risk an anti-trust lawsuit from the feds.
But, what is even more amazing is there is no glamor shot of the product, no demonstration, no celebrity endorsement and even an obscenity aluded to in the spot- all things that wouldn’t even be considered by the soon to be dethroned kings of marketing in Cincinnati. Granted, P&G did finally learn that great advertising that’s irreverent can help move the sales needle when they hired Wieden + Kennedy who came up with “The man your man could smell like” for Old Spice that repositioned a tired brand. However, comparing the media buy of the agency created campaign to the total cost of the do-it-yourself effort of DSC should make P&G rethink everything about the way they approach marketing for everything from Tide to Swifter.
Advertising should never be about budgets as much as it is about creativity and the ability to create an emotional connection and response with the consumer. Dollar Shave Club has just changed the game in razor blade sales. What are you going to do to change the game in your industry? Hint: doing what has always been done doesn’t work so well these days.
I will admit, I’m a music videos junky But lately, it seems like all music videos produced by major-label artists are lacking a certain charm. Super high-budget videos with a boring premise, often consisting of the artist performing in a surreal location. Which is fine for the hottest artists who are going to get views regardless of what content they put out.
But occasionally, a music video comes out that is original, memorable, and appeals to a large audience while still having a living, breathing charm.
Enter: Swedish House Mafia’s video for “Save The World” (bet you’d never heard of them or their music before)
Other artists and directors should take notes, because this video does what a video should; it tells a story, it’s funny, it’s well-produced, it’s memorable, it’s charming, and it gets people talking. Oh, and did I mention that it has over 25 million views? It was uploaded in May, which means that it gets over well a million views per week.
This is a perfect example of marketing through viral videos. Think about it, the whole point of a music video is to promote a musical artist, so it’s basically the same as a commercial. The key is to create a “commercial” that gets people talking, entertains them, and most importantly makes them forget that they are watching a commercial!
Oh, and by the way. I’m Max. I do video work at The Next Wave. Pleased to meet you.
There has been a long running debate about how an agency should be compensated- with the old model based on media commissions failing both clients and agencies for the last 50 years. And in the age of Chief Marketing Officers rotating out every 27 months at huge salaries- and little demonstrable impact- one should wonder where the real values are in marketing. But the sad thing is- we’ve known all along where the value is:
Marketing value is in the ideas
It’s that simple. Big ideas, the lasting ones, bring value far beyond what the agency could charge. What was the value to “Just do it” to Nike? Or “The ultimate driving machine” to BMW? Did an agency get compensated for the value of the idea- doubtful. If you hired The Next Wave on an hourly basis- and we came up with the greatest tagline ever written for your business- like “The first place to look for every last thing” as we did for Mendelson’s Liquidation Outlet- and it took 10 hours at $100 an hour- were we compensated fairly? Unfortunately- yes and no.
Big ideas that won’t come from most ad agencies
Recently, we got a viral email in our inbox. You know the kind- forwarded to everyone and their mother. But this one was actually verified by Snopes.com and made the company look good to an awful lot of people.
It seems the golf club maker Ping, has been donating custom fitted golf clubs to severely disabled veterans.
Here is a video about how this program affects the vets:
While the first reaction is so they donated some golf clubs, you can see the dramatic impact this program has from the video.
It also strikes a deep emotional trigger in potential customers- be they veterans or those who consider themselves patriotic- this is the kind of emotional messaging that advertising has a hard time buying- but, through a donation program Ping is probably getting more free goodwill and brand allegiance than the cost of the clubs they donate.
Ping doesn’t mention its free program on it’s site- it does have a veterans and troop discount program in effect now- it’s on their site: http://www.ping.com/about/military.aspx but, it’s doubtful that they will run ads on National TV bragging about it- like the Pepsi Refresh program- they just do the right thing and probably reap a lot more benefit from it- see these google search results: Ping Golf clubs to Veterans
How Walmart embraces RV owners
Everyone loves the idea that Mom and Dad bought an RV and are seeing the country. But Walmart sees this as an opportunity to reach out to one particular community and win them over. From the WalMart site:
Can I park my RV at a Walmart store? [Back to top]
While we do not offer electrical service or accommodations typically necessary for RV customers, Walmart values RV travelers and considers them among our best customers. Consequently, we do permit RV parking on our store lots as we are able. Permission to park is extended by individual store managers, based on availability of parking space and local laws. Please contact management in each store to ensure accommodations before parking your RV.
It was on page 2 of the search results from Google- since so many RV sites point this out. Of course, Walmart is counting on the RV’rs to stop in and restock, but the reality is that this idea gets them a lot of free publicity. Most ad agencies won’t make these suggestions because there is nothing in it for them- and many clients don’t think there is value in an agency talking about business process or policy as part of the marketing efforts. If you relegate your “Idea people” to only working on “advertising” you may be missing a whole lot of good ideas.
Do you have examples of ideas that add value to your brand that an agency can’t put on an invoice as a line item?
We live in an attention society. Everybody wants it, few get it, and all of us give it.
Advertising legend Howard Luck Gossage said “People don’t read ads, they read what interests them and sometimes it’s an ad.”
In today’s marketplace, people watch and share the outrageous. The question is, is it outrageous in a way that extends your brand message? Is it something that helps you make your point about why brand X is better than brand Y?
Evian, a company that sells the most commoditized product in the world- water, gives us an entertaining ditty with babies roller skating to the track of “Rappers Delight”- anyone 40 and older- their core market, remembers this song, and thinks babies are cute. This ad will get a lot of positive spread.
Then, there is an ad, probably done by the bad boys of advertising, Crispin Porter + Bogusky for Internet Explorer 8 and it’s private browsing feature. You’ll watch this- go, eehhwwwwww- and then tell 10 friends. O.M.G.I.G.P. or “Oh, my god, I’m gonna puke”
If given the choice, which would you prefer represented your brand? And, if trends continue, the puking woman is outscoring the babies in views on YouTube by a landslide, so think carefully.