Hyatt, Avis, Heinz and Others Turn to Video for Brand Impact

New Zealand may be seen as adventurous, but it’s often overlooked for other nearby destinations such as Australia or Asia. That’s why Tourism New Zealand went to Google a few months ago to create a video-rich channel on YouTube in the hopes of creating branding impact. The campaign is one example of how advertisers including Hyatt Regency, Avis and Heinz are turning to video for branding impact.

The 100% Pure New Zealand channel on YouTube features a handful of professionally-produced videos, including one that’s been viewed over 800,000 times and received over 1,200 comments within six months. However, the goal was to collect additional user-generated videos and build a community of interest.

To kick off the channel in September, the tourism board bought placement on the YouTube homepage, and also bought a bunch of online media pointing to the channel after the first day. The YouTube channel content is refreshed regularly, and helps drive users to the NewZealand.com destination.

“The goal of this campaign is to expose the brand of New Zealand to a wide audience,” said Rob Torres, national industry director of travel at Google during the firm’s Industry Press Day in New York yesterday.

Other travel companies experimenting and finding success with video include Hyatt Hotels, which uploaded video it had produced for its Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort onto YouTube. It’s been watched over 3,000 times in about a year.

Avis Budget Group VP of Online Marketing John Peebles said video is something his group is considering, in order to produce “how-to” videos. Avis has recently begun renting hybrid vehicles, and is considering providing instructional video on how to drive a Prius and other hybrid autos.

At a Press Day session about online marketing for consumer packaged goods, Google executives discussed how Heinz turned to YouTube for a user-generated video contest promoting the ketchup brand.

Smith Brothers Advertising of Pittsburgh, PA, was asked by Heinz’s president to help the brand with a particular business challenge, said Michael Bollinger, an executive with the agency who worked on the initiative. “While Heinz is in 50 percent of American homes, it was hidden in plain sight,” he said.

Though Heinz met the gold standard in terms of brand quality of its brand, leadership, and uniqueness, said Bollinger, one place it came up short was “energy of the brand.” After talking with company executives, the agency learned Heinz has customers who are passionate about the brand. The problem was that passion was shared in letters to Heinz senior executives, not to a wider audience.

In deciding to launch a user-generated video contest, Heinz had its eye on mothers who buy ketchup and their teen daughters and sons who visit YouTube and would be comfortable uploading video.

Called “Top this TV,” the contest offered a $57,000 grand prize and the opportunity to have the video aired on television. After the success of the first contest, Heinz has a second one underway that adopts the same theme and cash prizes.

In the first contest, 8,000 entries were submitted. After the entries were screened, 4,000 were posted on YouTube, according to Kevin Kells, national industry director, consumer packaged goods at Google. “There’s a reason not all 8,000 were posted — either for quality or people do some weird things with ketchup,” he said. Viewers spent a total of 80,000 hours watching submissions and 105,000 interacting with the brand.

Kells suggested that Heinz’s experience should put to rest concerns that brands don’t have control over the content posted in user-generated contests. “When you run a contest, you can have direct control on how much you open up the aperture,” he said.

Anna Maria Virzi contributed to this article.

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