Alot is written about brand authenticity and why it matters within the context of video marketing strategy and branding. But as a digital marketer, it never failed to surprise me in every time another major brand had a fallout. Video marketing solutions and digital advertising are fairly new tools for marketers but the checklist to building brands hasn’t changed much. If at all brand owners’ jobs have gotten more complex and yet there are some key principles that just cannot be ignore.
Exactly 12 months earlier in April 2017, Pepsi came under fire for its commercial that has over a million views on the YouTube. The video garnered 2,000 likes and 14,000 dislikes within a few days. Netizens criticised Pepsi
for painting its main lead, the reality TV star Kylie Jenner as a “privileged, white” model as a peacemaker that scored a deal between activists and law enforcement with a can of Pepsi. Pepsi denied its intention of making light, serious issues but pulled the ad in less than 24 hours later. Pepsi had hoped to ride on the profile of movements such as Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March but the fallout caused the company’s US$55 million commercial, nothing more than a bad taste in the mouth.
The lesson learned according to Forbes contributing writer Annabel Acton, is in choosing the right spokesperson, “If you’re doing a spot that’s all about values; pick a spokesperson that is active and aligned with your cause.” Action speaks louder. Pepsi could have gotten involved in the issues and supported the cause of Black Lives matter or Women’s March rather than saying that it does in a commercial. In other words brand authenticity. The audience can smell from miles away when the brand becomes condescending, patronizing or even assuming they know better.
Recently in Oct 2017, Dove went into a tailspin when users threatened to boycott the brand after the released of its Facebook video marketing campaign showing black woman turning white after washing with its soap. It was arguably made in bad faith for attention-grabbing purposes. Dove has always been about being the “the home of real beauty” and being comfortable with oneself regardless that they may not be picture perfect. What Dove stood for prior to this campaign was authenticity and it resonated well, until now.
A 2017 Google study, showed YouTube as the second most-used search engine in the world with a reach of over 1 billion views per day. What’s more impressive is its engaged user base with 95% advertising viewability and advertising audibility. On the flip side, TV being the traditional source of media ad spend are evidently dipping and will only continue to decline this year. Online advertisers are expected to outspend TV advertisers by $40 billion this year as the biggest advertiser. Specifically, digital ad spend reached $209 billion worldwide (41 percent market share) last year, while TV brought in $178 billion (35 percent market share) as reported by IPG Mediabrands.
With this growth in mind, more advertisers are waking up to the potential to engage with their consumers with holistic marketing that includes video marketing strategy. Although in general video marketing and digital advertising are cheaper to produce when compared to tv commercial, advertisers conveniently lowered their guard and hence stand the risk in jeopardizing brand’s authenticity. Video is seen in many ways as more down to earth and functional, utilitarian even—it is with these qualities that video is better placed to augment brand authenticity in the digital and social media era if digital marketers are playing their cards right.
Forbes Agency Council, an invitation-only community of media and communication agencies formed to leverage and support members to connect, learn and adapt their business through thought leadership and content—shared about how to create authentic video content and the future of advertising. The council came up with a list of suggestions on how to create authentic video content.
1. Share Value With Each Video
2. Set A Goal For Content Being Created
3. Create Informative Videos
4. Let Your Audience Create Content
5. Take Your Focus Off Production Values
6. Don’t Forget About Captions
7. Learn How To Tell Compelling Stories
8. Start A Series
9. Don’t Take Too Many Artistic Liberties
10. Know Your Audience Expectations On Each Platform
11. Embrace Vulnerability In Storytelling
On influencer marketing, a big part of digital and video marketing solutions—it can leave lasting impact on brands according to Deep Focus, a communication media company in their market research. The survey indicated that in advertising, 67% of Gen Z prefer “real people” engagement. Video marketing strategy requires building relationship between brands and viewers and this cannot be achieved if your brand voice isn’t delivered in authentic and believable ways. Honesty, genuine interest, trust, and personalization are the key components to build brand authentically on video. An influencer just like the brand itself may lose everything the moment consumers are suspicious of your intention or hidden agenda.
Facebook New Algorithm
If you have not been living under a rock the past four months, you may have known about Facebook’s new algorithm News Feed changes. The social network literally closed its door on content publishers when it made huge about turn on prioritizing feeds from friends and family. The intention could be summarised into one word, ‘authenticity’. In fact Zuckerberg also made known that video feed and Live video will be the way forward. By engaging with user’s own closed community, which assumed to be a more real and honest relationship, sharing becomes more authentic and relevant. It was after all the fake news, click baits, irrelevant promotions, and the used of unauthorized data mining that caused the meltdown of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. Apparently, it has been reported not unlike Trump’s presidency and Brexit, fake news and manipulation on Malaysia’s state election during the northern Kedah state Chief Minister’s campaigning and later rearing its ugly head again in April 2018 as Russian bots were reported in the run-up to Malaysia’s 14th General Election. But then I already digressed.
United Overseas Bank (UOB) Singapore has a series of commercials turned videos on YouTube promoting trust, principles and being there for its customer. Something that is too often used by similar entities including finance, the authority, and even delivery companies. Nothing new there but what makes UOB stands out is through the story that clearly evokes trust back in the days where trust is valued as gold. To me, it is believable and real.
Malaysia’s petroleum company, Petronas pioneered an authentic, real and identifiable narratives told in the most sincere and relatable series of stories. This went on for years successfully under the late effervescent and larger than life creative extraordinaire Yasmin Ahmad’s helm. Her narratives worked on everyday people—the boy in the village, the guy on the bicycle or the mother who toiled tirelessly for her child. They are all so relatable and effortlessly engaging its audience. That is an authentic brand Malaysian can identify with.
These brands are leaders in their own category and they resonate well with the audience. The videos (and commercials) understand what the brands stood for and who their customers are. All the while keeping true to the brand values, its origin and brand voice. Brand authenticity isn’t about using real employee reading scripts that do not reflect on what the brand stands for. Nor does it mean trying hard to pull off something that the brand cannot promise it could deliver or somehow just seem too contrived. Creating video marketing strategy and video assets with messages that are honest with values to be shared, and with real storytelling that resonates with your audience is all important in the journey to build authenticity and trust. That is how customer loyalty is built. Going into the industrial revolution 4.0 we talk about A.I, driver-less car, big data, crypto-currency and disruption to the old ways of doing business. But somethings will remain unchanged and if trust, connection, and engagement do matter to the new world as it did before, so does brand authenticity.