In cluttered feeds, it’s the surprising and unexpected that makes you prick your ears up. Offer your audience something they didn’t see coming to trigger engagement and create something they’ll remember.
We often start by thinking “what is the last thing they would expect us to do?”. This approach has been the inspiration that’s seen us do a Formula 1 pitstop wearing high end suits, give people “free” Christmas presents then immediately force them to hand them to a stranger, and even our most well infamous piece of work, Bodyform Responds, in which we admitted the previous 30 years of brand advertising had been a lie (albeit one created to protect the audience from realities they couldn’t face up to).
Abandon the beaten track and your engagement will go up.
Visuals work fast. With a war raging on our social feeds over our attention, it is best to get straight to the point to entice your audience before they scroll on to the next thing. Assuming you’ve done something bold, we’d refrain from giving away the money shot, but teasing the viewer with what’s to come up front is vital to reduce the risk of the audience moving on.
Devices are changing all the time and viewers’ behaviour is too, so increasingly we create specifically for different platforms. YouTube works best when viewed horizontally on a laptop with lengths of up to 15 minutes, whereas Instagram is at its strongest when viewed in square and vertical at sub 1 minute lengths. These are very different briefs.
6 years ago, we were making one film per campaign (for YouTube). 4 years ago, we were creating two versions: for Facebook and YouTube. 2 years ago, we were creating up to 40 cut downs for several platforms. Increasingly we’re treating each platform as its own medium, and conceiving specific bespoke films for each. These can be created on the same shoot but with very different structures and aspect ratios and increasingly shot separately on different cameras.
This maximises contents’ reach. The continued growth of phones and tablets means this will keep moving in the coming year (foldable phones anyone?).
A human tone of voice helps differentiate you from the sea of unnatural corporate blandisms. Not only that, but businesses are really groups of humans and the desire for businesses to look perfect often surprises us. Being vulnerable and honest often works much better.
Our friends at Yorkshire Tea are very good at this – and we really like their way of narrating their progress to plastic free teabags. They’re a smaller company than most of their competitors, but by being honest about their moves to go plastic free they’ve kept their audience engaged by letting them “behind the curtain” and showing them real time what they are doing to fix the problem.
And working with great humans helps, as our ‘Tourettes Mobile‘ video for eBay and ‘The World’s Biggest Fan‘ for Mastercard prove.
Whilst the 2017 Super Bowl made it clear that you couldn’t be a major brand without standing for something world changing, 2018 saw this evolve in a range of ways from Kapernick to Gillette. It is undeniable that younger audiences are turning to the brands that stand for and do positive things in the world, but our tip for 2019 is to do purpose, but with humility and honesty. It’s better to offer some small support in a niche area that you can back up with action, than to profess to be saviours of the universe and have an increasingly savvy audience question your sincerity.
Ryan Reynolds : Truce – a bold and playful bit of banter between two celebrity brands – which whilst they both have star pulling power, does go above and beyond in its creativity and execution:
Hiscox: What would a cyber attack look like in the real world: Not the sexiest subject matter – but brought to life with wit and panache by AMVBBDO:
…and one from us. The Christmas Gift Experiment: One of our most viewed films ever (over 32 million views, over 93% of them organic):