Bringing a brand to life

Social video can be a cost-effective route to building relationships and conversations with consumers locally and internationally – but the content and concept must be clever and relevant, finds Steve Hemsley.

Coke: An online video’s content should be credible and relevant to the brand and its customers

Video sites such as YouTube broke through the 5 per cent barrier of all UK internet visits in April. By July, 20 per cent of visits to video sites came from social networks, with 12.5 per cent of people leaving a video site going to a social network, according to Experian Hitwise.

In the UK, YouTube accounts for about 70 per cent of visits to video websites according to Experian. The free hosting of videos appeals to marketers, as do the figures relating to how much more shared videos are watched, but ultimately brands must produce content that people want to watch – and recommend.

Brands including Coca-Cola, O2, Littlewoods and Mercedes-Benz are producing this kind of content. But as Jude Brooks, Coca-Cola GB’s digital activation manager says, the film must be relevant. “You must build a story around digital video content that is credible and relevant. You cannot just create great content and hope it will travel. You must invest behind the right content in the right channels.”

Music videos

Coca-Cola created 20 videos during its sponsorship of the Olympic Torch Relay for its Future Flames campaign, developed by Blue Rubicon. Music artists including The Wanted and Emeli Sandé tweeted videos containing footage to their followers. The videos attracted more than 3.8 million views and featured on the websites of the Daily Mirror, Evening Standard and on MSN.

Music is a popular video ingredient for many brands. O2’s head of music sponsorship Jasmine Skee had been concentrating on building the brand’s presence on Facebook before research confirmed the power of YouTube and other video sites and revealed how consumers use them to share video content.

“We now work in partnership with creative agency Pd3 to build and evolve our brand channel on YouTube and thought about works best,” says Skee. “We have, for instance, reduced the length of the videos from three minutes to 90 seconds.”

O2 videos have included a UK first for YouTube. When English rapper Professor Green played a gig at O2 Academy in Brixton in May, five songs were recorded using special cameras which captured the concert from different angles, covering 360 degrees and allowing viewers to switch between camera views. This was the first time this technology had been used on YouTube.


In an ideal world, the content should be of TV or film quality because this is what consumers expect nowadays. Brands also need to ensure their personality comes across in their videos so viewers are engaged and are inclined to share on Facebook or re-Tweet.

Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars UK marketing director David George says brands must be brave with online video. “Everything you do in this space can seem like a trial but we are learning that consumers want to be talked to and have a discussion and not just listen to what a brand has to say.”

He is excited by the possibilities of the Aurasma app which brings the physical and virtual worlds together. This technology for devices such as smartphones can recognise real objects and images such as posters or print advertising and show people ‘hidden’ digital content, including video, in real time. During Mercedes-Benz’s Pure and Simple TV and press advertising campaign for the A-Class, consumers could access video content by holding their mobile device over a picture of the car.

Engaging content

Social video is also a good route to change younger drivers’ perceptions of the Mercedes-Benz brand. A recent video created with agency Weapon7 called ‘The Catch’ showed F1 driver David Coulthard making a number of attempts to catch a golf ball, while seated in a moving convertible SLS AMG Roadster. The ball was hit at 178mph by pro-golfer Jake Shepherd and the video was watched more than 2.2 million times on YouTube, with more than one million views in the first four days. The video attracted about 70,500 shares on Facebook and 3,500 tweets.

“The video generated a spike in enquiries about the brand because the content was engaging and made people want to share it,” says George. “The use of this technology shows consumers how we are changing as a brand.”

Another company trying to improve its image among younger consumers via social video is Sharps Bedrooms. This month it launched its ‘You Create’ multimedia campaign with retail agency The Market Creative. Consumers can go online and personalise their fitted bedroom by applying their own photos and choice of wallpaper or sliding doors.

“People can design their own fitted bedroom and share it on their Facebook page for friends and family to see and comment on. Any video content which is so personal will connect with the audience,” claims marketing director Tim Moore. “With faster broadband and increased smartphone use, customers’ expectations when they visit your website rise. You have to grab their attention.”

Video tutorials

Joe Hughes, digital marketing manager at Morrison Bowmore Distillers (MBD), is another fan of the Aurasama app used by Mercedes-Benz, although he is waiting for consumer uptake to grow before using it. He is a committed fan of social video, however, and is using it to change perceptions and raise awareness of the Scottish single malt whisky brand Auchentoshan.

MBD has just completed a B2B campaign in the UK and the US where it wanted to get bar tenders to recommend Auchentoshan and use it in cocktails. Mixologists were asked to create personal video tutorials for the chance to go and work in a bar on the other side of the Atlantic.

“The campaign appealed to the mixologists’ desire to improve their craft and show off,” says Hughes. “The video idea created a high level of engagement in a B2B audience difficult to reach.”

The campaign was devised by social media agency Yomego with a microsite integrated with a YouTube channel where viewers watched the mixologists create two drinks. Facebook walls were used to create awareness. “We needed to use video in a different way to generate interest which meant not just showing people following cocktail recipes. This was a way for bar tenders to show off their skills and be entertaining and for us to reposition the brand.”

New tools

There is no shortage of new technology available to brands that want to improve their social video experience and understand the brand conversations taking place around a video across the web.

Marks & Spencer uses the Chatter social video tool created by video agency Adjust Your Set. This technology is embedded within video content and lets M&S search and ‘curate’ relevant conversations about a particular topic across social media. It creates a flow of conversations which are made available on mobile sites or in-store.

The retailer first used it during its Christmas ad campaign last year, when M&S used tweets collated using Chatter for the creative, which featured the ITV’s X Factor finalists. The TV ad was embedded into an editorial page of with tweets chosen based on relevant themes. It has used Chatter again this summer to promote its ‘schwopping’ sustainability campaign with videos fronted by actress Joanna Lumley.


Often it is the hard-hitting, eyebrow-raising videos that get shared. This is why not-for-profit organisation Road Safety Analysis (RSA) used video to target the so-called ‘motorbiking dads’ aged 35-55 who have returned to the roads after having children but are difficult to reach with safety messages.

The RSA worked with agency ST16 on a safety campaign called Crash Proof which involved a spoof German TV show about bike engineering, which goes wrong when the rider is hit by a lorry. The film was watched six million times as it went viral and there was online speculation about whether the footage was genuine. When RSA revealed the video was a hoax, the viral was re-released with links for bikers to find out more about skills training. Visits to the training website increased from 10,000 unique viewers a year to 10,000 a month and extra courses had to be organised.

The RSA is now using interactive videos where users can choose where the story goes next and see the safety consequences of the actions they make the characters do. “This technology demonstrates how an unbranded piece of video content can get people talking,” says RSA director Dan Campsall.

Global audience

The possibilities for social video to hit a global audience have certainly been noticed by property auction house Allsop which switched to this medium after seeing a sharp dip in responses to its email campaigns. It is now getting more enquiries from overseas buyers looking to invest in UK property.

“The videos show clips from the auctions, our extrovert auctioneers in action and include a report on each sale. They are being shared by clients around the world, talked about on Twitter and attracting interest from property journalists,” says marketing manager Jennifer Mortimer.

Video is a powerful medium and the growth in smart devices will increase its impact. Content will be shared if it entertains and educates the audience. However, brands must also be willing to invest in measurement and data collection to ensure that their videos meet business objectives and are not just fun to watch.


Gary Kibble
Brand director

Littlewoods is always looking for innovative ways to break the mould and change perceptions of a brand which carries some baggage as a traditional catalogue retailer.

Detailed planning is crucial before launching online video. Content is critical but so is pre-awareness activity online and offline to tell people what is happening and how they can get involved. For us, video works best if there is an element of interactivity so consumers feel part of the experience and are engaged.

You also need to invest in good production values because it reflects on the brand and consumers expect a certain level of quality.

Ultimately for social video to work effectively you need a great idea, which is why we decided to blend celebrity with social media. With agency dot.talent, we asked designer Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen to present his new furniture and homewares collection during a one-hour interactive live show on Littlewoods Live on Facebook.

He talked through his range and took live questions from viewers. We got 15,000 more likes on Facebook and had 4,000 live streams of the show. It gave us the most successful homewares launch in our 80-year history.

I am excited about the potential of social video but it is not just about being innovative. There must be a financial return on investment too. The Llewellyn-Bowen broadcast was self-funded with four ad breaks which showed that our suppliers also support using video in this way to connect with and inform shoppers.

What we have learned from this Facebook event is that we need to focus more on a narrower product range. We perhaps tried to cover too much in the first broadcast. We have plans for future live Facebook shows to boost Christmas trade.

NMA Explains: Social video


Jessica Davies

Social video has evolved to the stage where it has multiple guises and varying degrees of creative interactivity. Yet the core principles of what makes a successful social video campaign remain pinned on the same central pillars: quality content creation, good distribution, interactivity and measurability.

There are tools and initiatives in the market aimed at helping brands trial video creative before investing budget in full-scale digital campaigns. These can analyse what content mechanics work best to ensure videos become viral, and brands must be ready to take advantage to ensure that no investment is wasted due to blind commissioning.

Top tips

  • Think carefully before investing in this medium.
  • Ask why your brand needs video and what is the essential message being communicated.
  • Marketers should also consider what change in behaviour they want the content to achieve and how the effectiveness will be measured, such as by using Google Analytics. This will show what a user did before and after they have watched, clicked on or shared a video.
  • Brands must also budget for video SEO, especially as Google now displays search results containing video as well as web pages.
  • Increasingly, people make generic searches on YouTube which calculates how many people watch, rate and share a video. The title of the video, the number of comments and shares and incoming links will all affect its ranking.

Source: EConsultancy, a sister company of Marketing Week


800m Number of unique users YouTube has per month, in 43 countries.

70 The number of hours of content that is uploaded to YouTube every minute.

3 People are three times more likely to watch a video that has been shared by a friend and will watch for three times longer than they would a paid video.

Source: Sharethrough




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