Cue the easy-listening violins. The shot slowly pans across a tastefully lit bottle of wine, perched atop an aged oak barrel next to a wedge of artisanal cheese. A smooth, velvety voice swoons… “Our vineyard’s rich history of… ”.
(CLICK!) Your finger hammers down on the skip button faster than a keyed up Jeopardy contestant. Who made that wine? Who cares!? You’re not here for that. You’re here to watch reruns of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares, darn it!
Here’s the thing: in today’s media landscape, the explosive growth of “Video On Demand” services, like YouTube, has made choice king. As younger generations mature into primary consumer demographics and cord-cutting trends continue across all age groups, people are flocking to the web for all their entertainment and information needs. Anything and everything is only a search bar away and if an ad is getting in the way of instant gratification, then it simply must be instantly interesting or it gets skipped lickety-split.
“If an ad is getting in the way of instant gratification, then it simply must be instantly interesting or it gets skipped lickety-split.”
So, what does that mean for a small business trying to grow its wine or beer brand? The good news is you don’t have to pay for expensive TV time anymore! But, if you want consumers to care at all about what you’re trying to sell, then it’s time to put on a creativity cap and have a crack at making some cutting edge branded entertainment that will get people talking.
Game of War: Fire Age promoted its mobile game with a short comedic sketch about a mythical gaming figure. “TheLegend27” became a viral meme sensation in gamer culture and earned over 168 Million views.
Branded entertainment is the content that connects viewers to a brand’s ideals and values. It’s the hot new kid on the advertising block and according to studies done by IPG Media Lab & Nielsen — it performs better, elicits more engagement, and generates more brand recall from audiences than any other form of online advertising.
New brands need to learn how to utilize the power of branded entertainment or run the risk of getting left behind in this fast-paced industry.
Online platforms are oversaturated with content. Earn attention by genuinely connecting and giving people a giggle at the same time.
A 30-second spot with a hard sell on “robust flavors and notes of orange peel” is forgettable. A funny sketch about a mom’s desperate need for a tall glass of merlot at the end of a manic child-rearing day…THAT is something that will make a mom snort-laugh and share the clip with her mothers’ group chat. When people are genuinely entertained, they ask, “who made this?” and will search for more. You have just struck branded entertainment gold. These videos will bring audiences to your doorstep as they become your followers, your subscribers, your customers, and your advocates.
Vat19 used a warehouse business full of novelty products to build a marketing content giant with over 6.5 Million Subscribers & 127 Million monthly views.
Making great content isn’t the only hurdle you face — you still need to draw the masses to your awesome content. Luckily, there is a force you can harness to help reach new fans. Tap into the power of The Influencer. Ah yes, Influencer Marketing. Another buzz word that’s thrown around the hallowed halls of Madison Avenue ad agencies. What’s not to love!? Get some social media star with a million followers to take a picture with your bottle of wine in the background with a liberal sprinkling of #livingmybestlife and PRESTO! Sales galore! Right? Actually, no… not at all.
Influencers build their audiences over time by developing a personal connection to their fans. They have forged a relationship of trust, offering fans their “authentic self” with an unspoken agreement that they won’t steer them wrong.
When a brand injects itself into that dynamic, more often than not, the sponsored content is considered a tolerable annoyance by fans. They don’t mind sitting through a 90-second dry copy read because they appreciate that their person is getting paid. But something tells me, “being tolerated” is not the brand impact you’re looking for.
Now, consider what a YouTuber could do with a bit of professional production budget and creative support? Those same 90 seconds become an upscale comedy sketch, made possible by an innovative wine sponsor, who understands what the fans want to see. Creative integration of your brand’s core themes into an entertaining sketch will connect you with fans and more importantly, potential customers. By doing it in an original way, you are immediately elevating yourself above your competitors.
Take Jordan Winery, for example. A 47-year-old, family-owned winery from Sonoma, California that had failed to keep up with the times. The current head of marketing, Lisa Matterson, said Jordan Winery was in danger of becoming a “stuffy, faceless brand”.
In 2007, Jordan Winery undertook a bold rebranding effort, centered around producing their own video content for YouTube. The goal was to show people the personality behind the brand, so they focused on creating content engaging enough to earn organic attention from online audiences and industry folk alike. They took viewers behind the scenes of their winemaking processes, gave helpful food tips from in-house chefs and delivered laughs with playful parody videos.
CEO John Jordan says that the marketing payoff for this investment was abundantly clear. It resulted in an across-the-board rise in sales, winery visits, social media interactions, earned media, and direct sales. Today, Jordan Winery enjoys the fruits of its labor, having built a strong reputation as a company who is “doing it right” on social media and boasts over 152,000 loyal followers across a variety of platforms. That’s a stellar example of how it’s done. When capturing people’s interest, you motivate them to learn more about the company behind that killer content. How do you bring that engaged audience over to your front door? And how do you keep them coming back for more?
Building brand awareness isn’t a one-stop-shop — it’s a matter of consistency.
By setting up your own Youtube channel with regular content offerings, you’re giving people a reason to come back and see what’s new. For example, producing a simple, recurring segment around your love of wine or beer will give customers a direct line to the heart of your brand. It’s an ongoing conversation that will consistently strengthen their bond to your brand. It doesn’t have to be flashy, just be honest and fun! Your own channel allows you to constantly communicate with fans. It may not be very big at first, but when we start making some noise with cutting edge, eye-catching branded entertainment… then, my friends, we’re really cooking with gas.
In 2015 SquattyPotty took a chance on a silly ad concept about pooping unicorns. The gamble paid off to the tune of 36 Million views and a 600% increase in sales.
For too long, producing film content for marketing purposes has been positioned as something you can only afford once you’re big enough, like Budweiser-Superbowl-Big-Enough. Decades of big, fancy agencies offering mythic creative expertise for quarter-million-dollar starting costs has made the entire enterprise seem unattainable. I’m here to tell you that that simply is not the case. If an 82 year old grandmother can gain legions of fans fighting dragons on her computer, you can get people excited about beer and wine, which is something people are already happy to get pretty passionate about.
There is now a new wave of professional creative thinkers who are motivated by the opportunity to do something different with a bold brand willing to do things differently. Find those that will match your passion and push those boundaries. It is those who are bold that will take the lead in tomorrow’s digital landscape. So go forth and be bold! Your epic tale is dying to be told!
Tim Smith is the Founder and Creative Chief of Wily Knight Productions, a Vancouver-based creative production agency, specializing in Branded Entertainment. Combining epic storytelling with innovative digital promotion strategies, Wily Knight help brands connect with audiences and leave their mark on the digital landscape. For more information about how your company can get into the branded entertainment game, email firstname.lastname@example.org