Now that the new year is roaring ahead, I wanted to look back at 2013 and the campaigns that have stayed with me. Since I don’t watch TV much these days, (Hulu is the last bastion for my network experience, sports aside), there are fewer avenues for advertisers to pitch me their wares. While the quality of ads on Hulu are better than traditional TV thanks to precise targeting and the opportunity for my feedback (does this ad apply to you?), I’m afraid to report it really is just more of the same: Flashy mobile devices idolized with quickly edited shots and dubstep soundtrack, scripted representations of what my friends hanging out looks like, etc. So if you are creating fast, throwaway ideas, I am returning the favor by dispatching them back into the airways of noise between the Simpsons and Family Guy.
Then, hidden in the sea of safe, lukewarm advertising, was this spot from Verizon.

What do you see? A good ad perhaps?

I know I know, it’s just a slight iteration on the “double-blind Product A vs Product B with real people idea,” but they mixed up the elements in such a clever way that I can still enjoy the piece. The reason this particular concept has earned a place in my mental library has to do with the way the agency (McGarry Bowen LLC) solved the problem of showcasing Verizon’s coverage. Sure, more charts and graphs with fast moving illustrations could have conveyed the idea just fine (see this boring example of beautiful style and empty promises), but the agency was looking for something better. Why not just have an event where ‘real’ people can be involved and then film the entire process as documentary?
The beauty in constructing a real event is that it brings your brand is alive; it exists in the real world and is tangible for all of your potential customers to see. Some of them even said yes when approached and became involved in the event, and will tell their friends, post about it on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram and blog about it that evening once they get home. Once the event closes down, we end up with a local radius of meaningful engagement and maybe even a few customers.
The beauty in filming/creating the documentary is you can prove that it happened, and then share the story to the rest of those who weren’t lucky enough to be walking down the street at the time. We get to see normal people walking in from their normal routines, involved in something that may possibly be fun and imagine what we would do in that situation. Would we be able to see where the conversation was headed from the first piece of art? The second? How would we react once the truth was revealed? “Oh didn’t you hear, Charlie was there!” “No way!” It’s the event that keeps on giving.
If Verizon can wonderfully engineer what is the equivalent of a parlor magic trick, imagine what a brand could do if they worked toward something people actually cared about. And in encouraging fashion, great brands aren’t waiting for this trail to be blazed. They are producing this new level of meaningful branding now. In fact, here’s one I know by heart; Red Bull.

Learn more about this fun event here »

I don’t drink Red Bull, yet somehow I’m one of their most valiant supporters. When a sugary energy drink can inspire so many people to come together and build crazy homemade flying machines and compete in events across the planet, well, the cynic in me melts away and I just fall in love with advertising all over again.
Then Red Bull gives this to the world.

Any volunteers?

Events of this magnificence benefit from the documentary multiplier effect. Everyone involved will share this story for the rest of their life, and all of their friends will hear of this amazing achievement over and over again. Then on the global layer, Red Bull releases the video (with the highest production values, no less) for the public to see and become enamored with. The real magic happens when I then share that story with my friends, elevating it above the constant noise and straight into their imagination. “So an energy drink paid for all of this?” They sure did.
We (as in Alabama Media Group) perform adequately in the sport of event building. Just in my year at the company I’ve seen a wedding show (A Bridal Affair), community recognition (20/20 Vision) and my favorite, the breakout hit Girls of Fall. We need to be doing even more. We also need to chronicle our adventures. Otherwise, we miss out on the second level of storytelling afforded by well-produced proof. If we don’t have a link to share the story of the event from start to finish, did it really happen?


I test the lighting before Girls of Fall kicks off.

The best, most effective advertising one can create is to have your company out in the real world involved in things people care about, then creating the post that these people can share and everyone else can discover. Being able to harness brand energy and resources for good, now there’s advertising that stays with you.
By Published On: January 9, 2014Categories: InsightsComments Off on Build A Great Event, Then The Story Is Your Marketing (Why Everything Is A Documentary)Tags: , ,

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