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How Episodic Video Content Can Help Your Brand

Sometimes it’s hard to pin it down – but a good story is more than just a cool idea. Storytelling has a structure, a format that hooks people in – whether it’s 6 seconds or 60 minutes. It’s what turns us from passive to active and brands are waking up to this.

More and more brands are doing things a little bit differently and becoming inspirational in the process. We are seeing a gradual shift towards evolving great digital ads and videos into richer storytelling. In 2016, this shift continues with brands big and small creating original web series. We decided to look at a few branded episodic series to see if there was a special sauce for success.

Nike Women: Margot vs Lily

For 2016, Nike looked to video to build upon its “Better For It” campaign, an integrated women’s campaign launched last April, by  rolling out an eight-episode scripted YouTube only series that follows two sisters who become involved in an unusual competition with each other. One has to “get more than zero friends”, the other has to start exercising.

Nike enlisted a lot of talented people to create a compelling on-screen product. The agency behind the series, Wieden + Kennedy, is known for creating high profile digital advertising campaigns and the filmmaker, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, earned accolades in 2015 for his film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

According to Nike brand president Trevor Edwards, the YouTube series has garnered more than 80m views. Nike also launched a dedicated ‘Better For It’ hub, which allows women to buy the clothes worn by the fictional Lily and Margot directly.

The per episode budget for the Nike series might be more than the entire marketing budget for many brands out there, but you can still make an impact without that level of investment.

REI – Every Trail Connects

To celebrate its customers’ love of hiking and exploring the outdoors, REI recently launched a series of three, six- to eight-minute videos that tell emotional stories from three of America’s thru-hiking trails. The videos were released on REI’s YouTube and Facebook channels. They also partnered with Outside Magazine and Backpacker Magazine to promote the videos on their publication websites and social channels.

Watch more episodes here:

In an interview with Ad Week, Ben Steele, chief creative officer at REI said, “So far, the videos have struck a chord with REI’s fans. There are people who recognize themselves in these videos, or say they aspire to make their lives more like Paul’s, or Lael’s. We saw tremendous engagement in terms of online conversation.”

When we reviewed episode view counts  on Facebook and Youtube for REI and its publishing partners, the episodes had garnered nearly 2.7 million views in just over 3 months.

Specialized Bikes: Adventure Dispatch

A documentary series that follows a team of individuals who inspire you to get outside, get off the beaten path, and to live more verdant lives. Since the beginning of April the webisodes ranging from 3-4 minutes have garnered  77,000 views on youtube and  another 146,000 views from promotion on Facebook.

Watch more webisodes here:

So what do these episodic content series have in common?

There might not be a magic formula for creating a successful web series for your brand, but there are definitely some common elements:

  1. Relevant high impact storytelling.
    All of the series we showcased had compelling imagery and inspirational storylines that their consumers could identify with.
  2. Social promotion.
    The brands behind the content all utilized their social following, sometimes on multiple channels to promote the content and engage viewers. They also directed traffic back to a hub to watch more and engage further with the brand.
  3. Utilize influencers.
    Influencers can be in the content or they can be used to help you distribute the content. In the case of REI they used the influence of well known publications in their niche to also help them distribute their content. Influencers add authenticity and that is very powerful for brands.
  4. Create a hub to showcase your episodes.
    Giving your work a home on your website or micro-site will help it’s evergreen effect and help you move viewers into or down the purchase funnel.

According to Adobe Digital Index, online video starts saw a 43 percent increase year-over-year in 2015. Media companies are continuing to bet big on branded web content in 2016. Nearly every media company—CNN, The New York Times, AOL, iHeart Media, Vox, Condé Nast and on and on—now operates some version of a brand lab to co-create original content in partnership with brands and some TV networks have even started filling some breaks with long-form branded content instead of 30-second spots.

So what are you waiting for? Take your videos to the next level with a branded web series.


About The Author

OUTDOORFLICS is a Digital Division of Adventure Advertising, LLC. With so many different ways to reach your audience, it’s important to stay on top of the latest tactics and trends in the ever evolving field of digital marketing. Follow us on linked in to stay informed.