July 28, 2010

Making great online videos

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am gradually going through David Ogilvy’s book “Confessions of an Advertising Man” and giving a 21st century spin to all the various chapters. This time it is all about making good TV commercials.

What would David make of today’s world where people probably spend more time online watching video than they do in front of a TV? In his book he said that “the purpose of a commercial is not to entertain the viewer but to sell to him”. I think he’d love the fact that the recent Old Spice YouTube campaign (apparently) helped double sales. If you look at this report on ZDNet “Video is now the fastest-growing segment of the Internet advertising market. Digital video amounted to $477 million in revenue in the first half of 2009, up 38 per cent from the same time period in 2008, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau”.

David also said that on television “what you show is more important than what you say”.  If that were the case would he have hated the Johnnie Walker Keep Walking online video campaign? We live by new rules it seems.

He had many useful tips for people of his day such as making the product the hero of the commercial. Online there seem to be no rules other than be noticed and talked about. That’s a challenge compared to Ogilvy’s day where he said that the average consumer, “poor dear” was subjected to 900 commercials a month (interestingly the consumer in those days was uniquely female). How many video advertising messages do we see each day? He was spot on when he said they needed a “touch of singularity”.

Ogilvy compared the TV screen to the cinema screen and gave tips for working on the smaller format. Now we have video banners in the middle of cluttered websites. But that might not be the only thing holding online video back from truly taking over. According the Tech Crunch there are still many issues to solve such as lack of standards and problems with distribution. Read the full article here.

Those who have already understood the potential of online video know that it is not just a passive experience. The Barnardos Turnaround video banner campaign included interactivity so the viewer could experience how their help can make a difference. To quote their Cannes award winning entry description “a young girl tells the story of her journey into despair. By clicking and dragging the slider, you can physically turn the entire banner around, and the film then plays in the other direction with a different voice-over, showing the tangible impact Barnardo’s can have in turning a young person’s life around”. Click here to try it.

Another amazing project from the Netherlands used video within social networks and made the viewer part of the action by bringing in their photos, name and more. Commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Justice, the campaign was “aimed specifically at young citizens to raise awareness about cybercrime in a way that is relevant to them. 85% of Dutch youngsters have a profile on social network Hyves, which they use on a daily basis”. The agency Kong “created a frighteningly realistic ‘ambush’ on Hyves: a tailor-made, personalized action video in which you could trick your friends by sending the Cybermaffia after them. In just 7 days, the campaign was viewed over 5 million times and sent-to-friends over 7 million times, making it the most popular social media viral campaign in the Netherlands ever”.

And finally, online video differs in that you can show some things that would never be allowed on TV (although knowing the French this would have been on primetime:)

It would be great to hear David’s view of online video commercials. Would he be intrigued by the possibilities or just say “if they don’t sell they aren’t creative”.

Aides graffiti from notsobadforfrenchy on Vimeo.