Successful Online Video Campaigns

Have you taken a close look at Brawny products lately? If not, you’re in for a surprise.

Last year, tissue, pulp, and paper manufacturer Georgia-Pacific relaunched its Brawny paper towel brand and gave the burly-but-dated spokesman a makeover. The more modern, sensitive character is now being promoted with an interactive ad campaign that includes tongue-in-cheek online videos designed to create consumer buzz.

The launch of the amusing viral video campaign, in which the Brawny Man caters to a woman’s every whim, demonstrates an understanding of the medium few competitors seem grasp. Developing a successful online video campaign is no longer as simple as making a buy and converting TV footage for Web use.

Video may still be in its infancy (compared to Internet marketing methods such as paid search), but it’s gaining momentum — fast. Broadband Internet penetration exceeds 55 percent in U.S. households, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. DVRs make it more difficult to reach consumers via TV. Even the most traditional advertisers are looking at online video.

Since offline advertisers realized its value, the space has changed. Internet users are no longer wowed by ads that can be just as easily viewed offline. They’re looking for originality, entertainment, and purpose.

Take Converse, which last year used online video promotion to collect original :24 films to use in a future TV campaign. The company asked fans and filmmakers to submit short works that embodied “the values and spirit of Converse” for a chance to win $10,000. Results were posted online at the ConverseGallery.

According to a Boston Herald article, Converse received 250 submissions within the first three weeks. The gallery, where submissions are still hosted, drew 3 million visits within the first few months. The campaign’s objective, according to Converse executives, was to facilitate “a conversation among those in our community.” Given the age and lifestyle of the brand’s target market, placing the films online first made perfect sense.

Brawny’s and Converse’s online video efforts differ from most attempts because they don’t rely on repurposed material or typical ad spot formats. The online video is a promotion in disguise; it entertains within the context of a brand, builds enthusiasm by providing access to exclusive material, and reinforces the relationship between consumer and company through interaction.

Consumers may find rehashed material on the Web they missed on TV, but that doesn’t generate brand excitement or word-of-mouth promotion. In many ways, online video comprising repurposed TV creative represents little more than a missed opportunity.

Video has been touted as the next big thing for years. An increasing number of publishers now offer online video formats, and new products better allow users to interact with video ads. The stage is finally set for traditional marketers to make the most of a medium that’s been underutilized for far too long. Will they innovate or continue to misguidedly use online video as a TV substitute?

The answer lies in consumer reaction. If just a handful of advertisers lay the groundwork for online video campaigns that serve a definable purpose and show quantifiable success, many traditional companies will surely be persuaded to do the same.

Until then, let’s hope Internet users don’t start viewing online video as the desperate offline marketer’s attempt to reach them. There’s no telling how many Brawny Men it would take to reverse a reputation like that.

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