Banishing the Bland and Boring…Why Video Storytelling is leading the way

What’s the most boring video you have ever seen? Have a think….

I wager a guess it’s probably a mandatory training video or a corporate sales video intent on ‘selling’ a product or a service. At Orange Fox, the word ‘boring’ has been removed from our vocabulary and banished to the fiery depths of hell. We encourage our clients to do the same. We challenge our clients, business partners and collaborators to think differently as we believe the secret to good storytelling is authenticity.

If you look at the very best marketing adverts they don’t sell you a product or a service but instead they make you feel something. Whether that’s laugher, a bucket load of tears or getting you on the edge of your seat. The very best marketing makes you feel.

 Authenticity makes for more memorable messages and more impactful communications that touch your audience on an emotional level. That’s the difference between a thoughtful piece of video storytelling whereby the message and audience have been considered first. The second approach is a corporate video that has been produced because the client “wanted a video”. This is a reactive approach and a gamble on success.

Video is on the rise, and it’s not slowing down

Over the last decade online video has taken over the digital landscape.

It is expected that by 2021, 80% of all Internet traffic will be video – a number that’s been on the rise year on year for quite some time, with no expectation of slowing down anytime soon. Video has become a fundamental way people consume content online. Simply put, if your company isn’t using video as part of your marketing then you are missing out on thousands or possibly millions of potential customers.

Three companies have been at the forefront of the digital landscape shift – Google, Facebook and Netflix. The accessibility of camera technology in the latest smartphones and decreasing costs of production equipment coupled with the rise of Youtube has led to a proliferation of video shooters. Youtube is the largest online search platform in the world, second only to Google. In addition to Youtube, Facebook has given anyone with a camera-phone and an internet connection the possibility to upload short-form content to the web at the touch of a button.

Then there is Netflix. The online streaming platform that revolutionised how audiences consume stories, both short form and longer – and it has set the bar very high indeed. Those precious first few seconds of your visual communications are absolutely vital to grab the attention of your audience.  Viewers are well-accustomed to content that looks like TV and Film with high production values, great scripting, great acting, beautiful cinematography and perfect sound – nothing less than brilliant will do the job. Couple this with our ever-decreasing attention spans and the need for a perfectly executed marketing video becomes even greater. So how does one stand out in an oversaturated market, where there are literally millions of videos out there. This is where video storytelling comes in.

It’s all about story

Storytelling isn’t a new phenomenon, it’s the very backbone of society. Humans have been telling stories for thousands of years – From cave wall doodles, the bible, paintings, poems, literature, film, right through to the aforementioned Netflix. It works as a form of communication because it’s embedded in our nature to connect through story. This makes storytelling a fantastic way to foster a strong connection between your business and your audience and do so on a personal level.

As storytellers, Orange Fox Studios excel in helping your customers understand you and your values through impactful and authentic film content. Like the Fox, we’re constantly curious, creative and determined.  Our job is help clients to understand who their customers are and what they want to see. It’s a partnership. We’re not just in it for a quick buck. We want to invest in your business and its success by positioning ourselves as the ‘go-to’ guys’ (and gals’) for your visual communication needs.

So, next time you have a business problem and think video could be the answer, don’t take a reactive approach. Ask yourself; “what’s my message?”, “who’s my audience?” and “what story can I tell that my audience will relate too?”. Or, better still, contact The Orange Fox and we’ll guide you through the process.

3 video storytelling choices that work for creative advertising

Ok, let me first start by addressing the title of the blog.

There are many creative techniques used when it comes to video storytelling and there isn’t a one shoe fits all approach. The brand, the audience, marketing channels and touchpoints all have a say on whether a creative concept will leave its mark. We need to first understand these things before we can conceptualise ideas that will resonate with a target audience. However, there are notable trends which I believe make a video advertising campaign memorable – At least to me.

Now, I’m a sucker for a good story. (Thank you, Netflix!) It’s one of the reasons I run a video storytelling agency. Great storytelling is powerful, it can have impact and it’s an incredibly rewarding process if done correctly. With so much video content out there these days, it’s really got to make me feel something if I’m going to remember it. And that’s one of the key points we need to ask ourselves when we’re creating short-form video content for advertising – Is our idea memorable? Other questions we might consider; Is the idea easy to get? Will the target audience relate?

Recently, I’ve seen a batch of new adverts on TV, the cinema and online. All of these adverts had plenty in common. The production values were high, they looked like TV or Film and they all had a length of between 30 and 60 seconds. However, the adverts that resonated with me the most all seemed to fall into three styles and genre choices. These genre choices were;

#1 – Comedy / Humour

It goes without saying – you can’t bore someone into buying something. Humour is a great way to engage an audience and make your advert stand out.

uSwitch “Coach” Broadband Comparison TV Advert

This advert from uSwitch was actually released in 2017, but I only recently discovered it. The memorable character and the silly humour had me giggling. What’s great is that this format is easily replicated with new scenarios and characters as long as the main character is present and the humour remains consistent.

#2 – The Quirky Drama

AO “Delivering Tomorrow” Advert

Anyone else think AO have lucked out with the fact that there is a mainstream song with their business name in the Lyrics? Regardless their new TV and Cinema ad is excellent. It’s got an interesting story – the sun begins to flicker and eventually goes out, plunging the world into darkness. Turns out the sun is a giant bulb and it’s up to the AO team to deliver and fit the new sun to bring light back to the world. My favourite moment is the sun being wheeled out of a giant box which reads “SUN 174 QUADRILLION WATTS” on the side.

#3 – The “Pull on the Heart Strings” Drama

Remember those beautiful John Lewis adverts? The one’s with the lovely stories, haunting acoustic music and high-end visuals to match. Yep – style three is the pull on the heart strings drama. There’s two more adverts which I love that both fall into this category. The cinematography in these both these 60 second adverts is excellent and the music choice really heightens the drama on-screen.

Lloyds Bank, The Running of the Horses:

Dogs Trust TV Ad #Specialsomeone:

There’s No Such Thing as a Boring Subject

‘Boring’ is a word that gets thrown around a lot in creative industries, and it should be banished to the fiery depths of hell, because there should be no excuse for it, and certainly no place for it, in whatever you’re doing, whether it’s film, online videos, blogging, podcasting, morris dancing, or anything else.

There have been a number of clients over the years who have mentioned their industry or business using this term, and it’s great when it happens, because we get to show them exactly why there is no such thing, and then pitch the client ideas that are fun, creative and engaging, that (with any luck) will make them excited enough to hire us, and show them that what we believe is true:

There is no such thing as a boring niche or industry.

A perfect example of this comes from the world of film, and specifically the 2010 David Fincher/Aaron Sorkin collaboration The Social Network, which grossed over $200 million worldwide because Sorkin (who adapted the screenplay from Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires) and Fincher (Seven, Fight Club) didn’t make a film about people Poking each other in university dorm rooms, they created a Greek tragedy that focused on issues of class, sexism and betrayal, all contributing to a masterful example of high drama.

Now imagine being a film executive being pitched a film about the invention of Facebook…

Urgh.

 

That’s a boring subject to anyone outside of Mark Zuckerberg’s lawyers and anybody outside of the Sorkin/Fincher circle, who had done their research and realised there was an incredibly powerful, dramatic and important story to tell.

“It really didn’t have much at all to do with Facebook itself. I wasn’t on Facebook. I don’t spend a lot of time on the Internet, and social networking wasn’t really part of my life. But the story itself! There are elements of it that are as old as storytelling: friendship and loyalty, class, jealousy, betrayal — all those kinds of things that were being written about 4,000 years ago. It struck me as a great big classic story. And those classic elements were being applied to something incredibly contemporary.”
– Aaron Sorkin in an interview with TIME, September 2010.

And that’s what you need to do to erase the word ‘boring’ from your content: Find the story within your business, industry or niche and tell it in the best possible medium. You don’t need Oscar winners and a Hollywood budget to achieve it either, so don’t panic.

Now let’s focus on how you can do just that, in relation to creating online video content for your business:

 

What’s Your Story?

Your business didn’t fall from the sky one day (although that would make an amazing online video), you built it, your family built it, maybe you and your best friend built it. Regardless of how it came to be, your business has a story, and that’s where your online video journey begins: Finding the story. Once you start to do that, the word boring slowly fades away.

For example, you could be running a store that makes wooden signs for home and business, and on the surface, you might be scratching your head as to how that becomes remotely exciting on screen. Here are some questions that will instantly change that perception:

 

  • How did your business start? Is it family owned? Did it start here? Have you moved to where your business hails now from somewhere else? If so, why?
  • How do you make your signs? Is everything hand-carved and painted by hand?
  • Where do you get your materials from?
  • What kinds of signs have you made?
  • Who have you made signs for?

Once you start asking these questions, all kinds of interesting stories will reveal themselves, including:

  • The story of the business
  • The hard work and craftsmanship that goes into creating your goods
  • The relationships/friendships of the people who work there
  • Showing off just how great your good are, of course

The next step is to discuss ways in which your stories can be told. These could be through interviews, short form content, an online advert, tutorial films and more. There are no end to the stories that can be told in any industry or niche, but one thing is for certain…

They should never be boring.

The Rise of Branded and Personalised Video

2015 was widely regarded as the year that video marketing really took off. As we head into 2016, marketers will be looking into how they can use technology to further build on the huge potential of video marketing.

Increased Value of Branded Video Content

The power of YouTube will come to the fore again this year resulting in more companies making an extra effort to produce branded video content. Marketers are recognising the fact that YouTube is now the third most visited website in the world with more than four billion views per day.

‘The play button has become the most compelling call to action on the Web’ (Lessard, T).

Videos are becoming more popular among online users than traditional text-based pages. More and more marketers will move towards moving images, creating branded videos such as key interviews, behind-the-scenes insights and product promos to engage their target audience.

digital-video

 

More Videos Will Appear on Websites

Jayson DeMers (Forbes) suggested that there are two areas where video content is likely to show up:

  • Home pages – As this page is likely to be the first page seen on the website, it is vital that it is attractive for the viewer. If your homepage is engaging, the visitor will be more likely to spend more time exploring the website.
  • Product pages – To make sure that your product or service is sold effectively, videos are a great method of explaining what you offer. Using just text and still images can be difficult to understand if your product or service is complex or new to the market. With the use of short videos, customers will better understand the product and the purchasing process which can boost conversions.
The Revenant: 200 Miles website includes an interactive video in the background.

The Revenant: 200 Miles website includes an interactive video in the background.

Videos Will Play a Larger Role in Driving Sales

The inclusion of videos on websites brings us onto the next prediction that videos will play a larger role throughout the customer journey. From a recent survey by research firm Demand Metric, 74% of businesses reported that video content drove conversions more than any other content type.

With increased video content, customers will be guided through the purchase process. According to a recent study, customer testimonials, demos and explainer/tutorial videos were found to be the most effective at helping convert sales.

The Potential Rise of Personalised Video Content

 

Interactive, one-to-one, video content is forecasted to emerge in 2016 which will create a more conversational experience. New technologies will allow the viewers to fully engage with the video content to form a more immersed experience to potentially gain more customers. Features to look out for will be mid-roll surveys and questionnaires inserted into the videos as well as multiple choice options that the viewer can select to direct how the video content will continue.

Video personalisation will also enter the mainstream in 2016. The concept will involve the viewer’s name, company logo, or an image posted on social media placed into the video to bring the viewer into the story. Marketers will be hungry to create a more engaging, immersive experience by creating stories that are personally directed by the viewer.

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Super Bowl 50: A Marketer’s Paradise

Sunday 7th February will see the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers compete at Super Bowl 50, one of the most watched events in the world. With 114.4 million U.S. viewers watching it alone last year, the Super Bowl is one of the biggest marketing opportunities of the calendar year. It does come at a price however, and it is a big one. Broadcaster CBS will charge a record $5 million (£3.5m) for a 30-second advertising slot this year. The huge global audience attracted to Super Bowl allows the broadcaster to demand such high costs.

hashtag-bowl-2015-generic-1920-800x450

Digital marketing expert Joanne Bradford explained that the Super Bowl could not be beaten for the “impact of that moment” and the “brand awareness that it offers”.

 

The Super Bowl television adverts are a popular talking point, extending a brand’s awareness span beyond just a day. In fact, talk of the advertising campaigns begin weeks in advance. MarketingLand.com have their own feature called the ‘Hashtag Bowl’, where they cover all of the latest news and developments on which companies are taking part and how the productions are going.

Among the many brands participating, Doritos have launched their final ‘Crash the Super Bowl’ campaign. The contest invited fans to produce their own Super Bowl adverts to be in with the chance of having their production aired live on game day. This year Doritos have received nearly 4,500 entries which they have whittled down to three finalists. The winner is determined by the public, who can vote for their favourite entry up until 31st January. The campaign by Doritos is an effective marketing tool as it builds interaction goodwill with it’s fans and runs many weeks in advance of the Super Bowl event itself.

At the time of writing, 35 brands have announced their participation in the Super Bowl ad battle. To showcase their brands, some ad campaigns feature well known stars such as Alec Baldwin (Amazon), Christopher Walken (Kia) and Liam Neeson (LG Electronics) to name but a few. This highlights just how important the Super Bowl event is for companies. It is the US version of the UK’s Christmas advert. See our earlier blog post on the battle of the Christmas ad.

amazon-super-bowl-50-ad.

 

Global Brand Exposure

Major sporting events offer a rare occasion for companies to be market their brand to vast live audiences. But it’s just the Super Bowl that attracts people from around the globe – The FIFA World Cup final in 2014 has been estimated by many broadcasters to have been watched by a global audience of at least 909 million. The peak audience in the UK reached 21 million.

As a result of the high audience figures, broadcasters were again able to put an expensive price tag on a 30-second advert slot on their channel. ITV for example were charging between £275,000 and £300,000 for adverts in matches that featured England and between £40,000 and £100,000 for other matches.

2016 promises to be, yet again, a year for major sporting events. Football’s Euro 2016 is being contested in France this June, while athletics’ main event, the Olympic Games, is coming up in Rio in August.

How can your business tap into this?

We’re realists, so we know unless you’re Coca Cola or Amazon you’re highly unlikely to fork out £3.5 million of your great British pounds for a 30 second tv ad slot. But this doesn’t stop your brand from tapping into the audience that will be taking part in such large events. A well planned and relevant marketing video, released on or around the event can do wonders for audience response and brand exposure. Why not produce a corporate drama film that intelligently and creatively advertises your brand? The best example we’ve ever seen is Reebok’s Terry Tate: Office Linebacker.

Telling stories is what we do. If you’re interested in exploring corporate drama for your brand, or just want some friendly advice, get in touch with us and we’ll have a coffee.

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“Hey Look at Me!!” – How to Grab Your Viewers Attention

“That was sooo boring” is something no one wants to hear about their videos. Whether it’s in marketing or in film, you want to capture interest. This is the only time it’s really okay to crave attention, I mean really crave it. You want people to watch it, but what if you can’t get them past the first five seconds?

If you’re anything like me, YouTube is probably you best friend. I can spend hours on it and eventually, my fingers start to get tired constantly hitting the skip button (for now we’ll ignore the videos which I actually start and then decide to leave, that is a WHOLE other topic). However there have been two times, on record where my finger actually paused. The first one was the Pantene – Labels ad.

When it started, the music and the imagery made me wonder ‘where exactly is this going?’ So I just kept on watching.

The second incident was a lot more light-hearted. After searching, I can’t for the life of me remember the brand or find the advert, but I do remember everything else.

Basically, it started with a man who paused his wrestling match on TV, the doorbell rings and he goes to get his takeaway. This wasn’t the fun part. The fun part was the wrestlers. The hilarious conversation that ensued between the two stuck, paused in probably the most awkward position actually made me laugh out loud. It was like a “mature” Toy Story.

Have you noticed a trend yet?

Whether it was humour or intrigue, these ads had me hooked. They were interesting, so they caught my attention. So how do you grab attention?

Don’t waste those five seconds

You can’t get them back. I’ve seen so many ads that waste their time with a fade in, or a “well placed” logo and slogan. I can’t help but wonder why do that? They’ve given no real reason to keep watching so obviously, I skip. I feel no urge or need to continue to watch. Lets look at McDonalds…

They get straight to the point, leaving their well placed logo and slogan right to the end. Just how it should be, in my humble opinion. If you’re interested in the McRib, this will definitely hold your attention.

Be relevant, relevent, relevant

So, for whatever reason, Google decided that because I watch a lot of cute baby videos and family vlogs, I am definitely a soon too be mum. I’m not. I every time I watched a video I was hit by diapers, baby food and educational toys. Skip, skip AND skip. This is just time wasted for you as a marketer or video director and me, your humble viewer.

This is just down to knowing your audience, and knowing them well. If it’s catered to the right people, they will watch.

Targeting, video marketing, attention

Be interesting

Now this is  tricky one. How do you make something interesting?

Think of it as the way you think about people. What type of people do you find interesting? Now I’m not talking about people you like, the word is interesting. Daring, controversial, opinionated, funny, mysterious etc., that’s what you want in your five seconds, impact. This can be done with visuals, sounds or words. Just looking at some still work, you can see how strong a single image can be. Now image a strong video.

video marketing, attention

It’s great to have amazing videos and marketing, but if you can’t get your viewers attention you might just be wasting your time. So don’t wait, make your five seconds count!

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Great Storytelling Is Achievable With Advertising

“Stories, we all spend our life telling them… About this, about that. About people. But some are so good we wish they’d never end. They are so gripping, we would go without sleep to see a little bit more. Some stories bring us laughter, sometimes bring us tears. But isn’t that what a great story does?  Makes you feel? Stories that are so powerful, they really are with us forever…” – Dustin Hoffman, Sky Atlantic.

Advertising can be seen as a dirty word, and when you watch some of the TV ads that make their way onto the screen you can understand why. But it is definitely the best way to reach the widest audience and when done well, you can incorporate great brand storytelling.

More and more businesses are finding ways to tell a narrative tale through their advertising. Even the incredibly annoying Go Compare adverts have become an ongoing saga, with the excruciating Tenor now a tragi-comic character who is trying to find new ways to communicate his message after being blown up, fired into a Black Hole and god-knows what else. It might do your head in every time you see it, but you have to admit that it’s pretty clever.

Another example of narrative storytelling are the BT Broadband flatmates adverts. It helps that the three actors in the ads are all well-cast and talented actors in their own right. The acting and the writing is actually better than the majority of dramas of soaps that you see on the likes of BBC Three, ITV2 and E4. BT’s budget obviously helps in this regard, but it’s simple storytelling that everybody could do. Good scripts, talented actors and a solid film-making team don’t have to cost the world.

The BT Broadband advertising story goes back over three years, with Love Actually’s Kris Marshall starring as a young man dating an older woman who has two kids from a previous marriage. It followed his story from awkward exchanges with the kids all the way up to their marriage, and the story now follows the young son as he ventures off to university. It could quite easily have been a comedy-drama on BBC One, but it’s advertising. Really great marketing.

Here ‘s an examples of the BT Broadband story. See how brilliantly their stories are told, and how simple the storytelling is. You don’t need to smash your customers over the head with flashy visuals and manic editing, you can draw them in with simple, concise storytelling:

BT Broadband Story

It might not be within every businesses budget and marketing plan to have an ongoing advertising campaign, but this shouldn’t hold you back. You can still tell an incredible story with a one-off advertisement. Again, it doesn’t have to break the budget and be a 90 second version of James Cameron’s Avatar to grab the audience’s attention, it just needs to tell a great story.

Take a look at these two advertisements from Sky Atlantic and McDonald’s. Don’t be fooled by the size of the corporations behind these adverts: These are both achievable without millions of pounds behind them. Dustin Hoffman may have cost Sky a few quid, but it’s not the Oscar winning actor that grabs the attention. It’s the words he uses, the music in the background and the message it delivers: Great storytelling is here.

The McDonald’s ad tells the audience that everybody has McDonald’s in common, and it does it with a simple tale that a lot of us can relate to. Take away the McDonald’s banner at the end and you could quite easily be fooled into thinking this was a short film by Shane Meadows. The subtlety of the piece gets the message across without the use of a sledgehammer and it stays with you longer as a result. That’s what a great story does, and what great advertising can do when there is a great story being told within it.

Sky Atlantic Ad with Dustin Hoffman

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