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Going viral is every marketer's dream, but you can't buy virality. You have to build it into your campaign. And this post reveals the exact playbook different brands have used to get their viral moments. Alongside unconventional video marketing strategies, this post also reveals the best practices for making your videos engaging and relevant.
Case Studies: Unconventional Video Marketing Strategies
Below are ten cases of unconventional video content from brands in different markets. Each case comes with a takeaway for your video marketing practice.
Leverage An Existing Audience: Cole Bennett And The Minions: Rise Of Gru
This Minions Movie managed to have commercial success when the general box office average was in shambles. Credit, in part, goes to how the movie was marketed. The trailer for the movie was cut by Cole Bennet of the Lyrical Lemonade fame. Lyrical Lemonade is responsible for dozens of breakout hits in the hip-hop genre.
Because hip hop had already become a mass-market product, the studio behind The Minions Movie understood that a good portion of Lyrical Lemonade's subscribers would be the prospective viewers of The Minions Movie.
Bennet cut the Minions trailer to Yeat's hit song "Rich" and uploaded it to the Lyrical Lemonade YouTube channel. The video amassed over 8 million views, giving the movie the cultural relevance it wouldn't otherwise have.
Multiple podcasts and commentary channels discussed the trailer, furthering the dialogue and hyping up the film.
The lesson from this campaign isn’t to hire Yeat and Bennet for your product announcement. It is to pick the right influencer and give them the freedom to bring your message to the audience they understand better than you.
Tie It To The Real World: Barbie
The Barbie movie was one of the best-marketed movies of the decade. The agency behind marketing the film leveraged all media types, including video. And across all pieces of content released to push The Barbie movie, real-life integration was the common thread.
One of the videos to go viral during the campaign was of a giant CGI Barbie Doll next to the Burj Khalifa. Given that the location is so iconic and recognizable, the video was shared over and over in… you guessed it… Dubai.
Of course, no discussion about this movie’s marketing would be complete without addressing the real-life Malibu Barbie House. Giving people the chance to visit the Barbie House, the team tapped into a stream of User-Generated Content. After all, anyone visiting the house would post about it.
These are just a few instances of The Barbie Movie's marketing being tied to the real world. For most video marketers, the lesson is clear and simple: do things in the real world and make videos to showcase them.
Leverage New Technology: Lay's Messi Messages
While making real-world events the subject of your video marketing is a useful marketing tactic, it is far from being the only tactic in your playbook. You can also learn from video campaigns that are more abstract. Campaigns like Lay's AI Messi. Using AI, Lay's let netizens get personalized messages from Leo Messi.
If you get inspired by this and launch an AI Brad Pitt campaign, you will be making a very expensive mistake. Collaborating with any celebrity for AI rights to a personalized message campaign will not have the same impact because it has already been done.
The lesson isn’t to get an AI celebrity marketing for you. It is to use the latest technology in a creative way. Do what’s never been done before to make it worth talking about.
Use Short-Form Content - Tiagz's Ta-Ca-Ta
Tiagz is an up-and-coming musical artist who decided to be the greatest advocate for his own songs. Leveraging a catchy tune and the power of short-form content, Tiagz started flooding the internet with dance content and localized snippets of his song. The official video for the Ta-Ca-Ta track garnered 10 million views in two months.
Tiagz continues to make clips with the Ta-Ca-Ta sound on TikTok and YouTube Shorts. He has produced Arabic, Hungarian, and Persian snippets, making the song accessible to viewers from different regions.
You might think that making hundreds of Shorts and TikTok clips takes a lot of time. But with ContentFries, you can use AI to make short-form snippets from longer videos in a matter of minutes. You can learn more about Content Repurposing with ContentFries by clicking here.
Vlogging To Sell - Andrew Schulz
Andrew Shulz hosts the biggest comedy podcasts in the world, which allows him to sell out arenas on different continents. But Schulz understands that you can never over-market a show, which is why he makes vlogs as well.
The vlogs tell a story that ticket buyers want to be a part of. Schulz also uses local references at the beginning of his comedy set to draw in the regional audience.
Marketers can learn a couple of things from Schulz. Mainly, that vlogs are an excellent marketing vehicle. They can be localized and repurposed on a budget. Above all, they build and maintain your community.
Use The Right Influencer - Arnold And Gold's Gym
Gold's Gym is one of the most popular gym chains in the world. So it makes sense that it is partnered with one of the biggest names in Bodybuilding: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Given that Arnold works out at Gold's, people who run into him post videos online. This creates a stream of user-generated content.
But for one specific campaign, the brand's marketing department wanted something more conversation-sparking. So, it created an AI Arnold booth. Visitors were allowed to get advice from the AI Arnold, except it wasn't AI Arnold.
The real Arnold Schwarzenegger was sitting in the booth. And when he walked out to meet the visitors, their reactions were priceless. All of this was caught on tape and edited into a very poignant message: certain things need the human touch.
Integrate Well - Mrbeast And Beast Bar
While vlogging as a marketing move is one way to go about content marketing, producing high-quality video specials is another. And when it comes to video specials, no one does it better than Jimmy, a.k.a. MrBeast.
Mr. Beast went viral with experimental videos like saying "Logan Paul" a million times. Then, he started using the money he made from YouTube to make even more boundary-breaking content.
Giving free stuff in the most creative ways has become his trademark. And every now and then he gives away or features items made by his business.
He launched his chocolate bar with a Willy Wonka-style video reminiscent of Roal Dahl's classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The integration was so thematically aligned with MrBeast's chocolate business that it didn't even feel like an ad to most viewers. Yet it did what ads do and led to a million plus chocolate sales in the first 72 hours.
If you integrate your product into your content properly, you won't have to deal with the resistance viewers have to ads. And if you make your content fun to watch, then people might even pay to watch you promote your products.
Have Fun, Be Fun - Gymshark Celebrity Pranks
An excellent example of fun content is Gymshark’s celebrity prank campaign. Despite what the title suggests, the campaign didn’t feature any real celebrities. Instead, the team marketing Gymshark made prank videos featuring celebrity lookalikes.
The compilation of people falling for celeb lookalikes and asking for selfies is so engaging that you forget that you're watching an ad. But the Gymshark brand lingers in your mind because the video is shot at Gymshark locations.
Paint A Picture - Turkish Ministry Of Environment, Threat Of Plastic
The opposite of fun is not serious. The opposite of fun is boring. You can be serious without being boring, and the Threat of Plastic proves just that. Presented by the Turkish Ministry of Environment, this video campaign paints a picture of a world where Plastic is all that remains. From fishing to cooking, everything revolves around plastic.
Your videos can have the same kind of emotional impact if you paint a picture. It doesn’t have to be super serious or grim. It may very well be aspirational. Your brand dictates the tone. What matters is that you create a vivid world with your content.
Keep It Casual - T-Mobile Superbowl Spot
T-Mobile's Super Bowl commercial uses meta-humor and a behind-the-scenes look at their commercial shoot. Yes, their commercial was a "making of" video of their commercial. It is definitely interesting and different.
There are times to be serious and times to take it easy, and brands that are serious and brands that take it easy. The T-Mobile commercial isn't a one-size-fits-all model. But it does a great job of conveying the engagement value of keeping things light.
Best Practices For Unconventional Video Marketing
When you create an unconventional marketing campaign, you're on the hook for trying something that has never been done before. But you can always stand on the shoulders of giants.
Below are the principles of unconventional marketing that giant brands use to dominate their respective markets. Even if your video idea is completely original and out of the box, you can use the following principles for reliable execution.
Go Behind The Scenes
People want to peek behind the curtain. You can use their curiosity by taking them behind the scenes. This looks different for different businesses. In the T-Mobile ad discussed earlier, the viewers got a peak at the filming of a commercial. They might not have been as interested in seeing T-Mobile's technical operations.
Make Content, Not Ads
Once you start seeing your marketing videos as content, you'll appreciate that they have to compete with all types of super-engaging videos online. Your ads don't just need to be better than most ads out there. They need to be better than most content out there.
Start looking at the standalone entertainment value of your videos and be ruthless with your edits. Put out quality content, and you’ll be surprised how much advertising non-salesy videos can do.
Leave Users Better Off
One thing to have on your checklist for video marketing is the promise to leave your viewers better off for having consumed your content. This promise requires empathy, which can be hard to muster when you're too focused on your bottom line. Ironically, thinking about your customers and making valuable content leads to goodwill and consequent sales.
Get The Audience On Your Side
There are multiple avenues for building goodwill. One of them is to create sides and position yourself in alignment with your audience. Why do you think ruthless corporations can get behind environment-friendly and human-friendly messages? To get more customers in their corner, they simply walk over to the corner that their customers are already in.
So, how does positioning yourself alongside your audience look for video marketers? Any sponsored short film that has a specific message is a good example of goodwill-building content. As long as you understand your audience's values and can align yourself with them authentically, you can make video content that builds goodwill.
Remember that virality is always, in part, a product of luck. And the more videos you make, the luckier you get because you improve the odds of happy accidents. Accept that you'll have to pump out multiple videos before you gain traction. Start early, and don't overthink the execution.
Be Selective With Your Influencers
Influencers can be good or bad for your marketing, depending on alignment. The creators you work with need to have an audience that consists of your prospective customers. Moreover, they must be willing to make groundbreaking content for you. Don't waste money on unenthusiastic shoutouts. One good influencer is worth far more than twenty generic ones.
Think Like A Marketer; Move Like A Creator
Don’t just hire creators. Become a creator as well. Moving like a creator means thinking about your audience and the entertainment value of your content. It entails getting obsessive about engagement. When you move like a creator, you leave behind 99.99% of the conventional marketers.
Know Your Competition
Your competition is two-fold. Firstly, your videos compete with the standard ads in your industry. More importantly, they compete with everything else out there. You’re fighting for attention, so you have to defeat everything else that might hijack your viewers’ attention.
Make Your Ads Talk-Worthy
Good videos are the ones they watch. Great videos are the ones they talk about. Not every video you produce will be worth talking about, but if you set your aim high enough, you'll get one or two videos into the zeitgeist. Fortunately, that's all you need to level up your brand.
It takes one viral hit to raise your profile. It takes one viral hit to become a sensation. But you are less likely to get even a single hit when you’re aiming for zero.
When In Doubt, Have Empathy
You may find multiple practices and prescriptions too daunting. How can you create content that's relatively light, takes people behind the scenes, has a good message, and is worth talking about all at the same time?
Well, how about understanding your audience and having empathy for them? If you do just that, your content will automatically become more valuable and interesting.
Empathy is a catch-all solution that forces you to use all the tools at your disposal, not to push your products and services but to engage your audience in a way that leaves them better off.
Worth A Follow
For marketing ideas and inspiration, Below are five marketing agencies you should follow for inspiration. Their content is usually empathetic yet outside the box, valuable yet entertaining, and relatable yet fresh.
This agency leverages tech creatively. It designs experiences that are worth talking about, and any content documenting their campaigns is pretty entertaining. You should follow Hammer Creative because of its unapologetic pursuit of entertainment when it comes to marketing.
Fresh Content Society
Fresh Content Society is a breath of fresh air in the rigid world of video marketing. The team at FCS is not afraid to create relatable content that is impossible to ignore. The agency is worth following because of its cutting-edge approach to content.
Early Light Media
One thing that sets Early Light Media apart from other agencies is that it doubles down on the human side of marketing. The agency aces in human storytelling, which is becoming increasingly relevant in the age of automation and isolation.
Bottle Rocket Media
Bottle Rocket Media's portfolio is a masterclass in unconventional content. The agency produces short ads as well as long-form content like documentaries. What ties most of its content together is its entertainment value.
Sandwich approaches its marketing content like short films. It is a small, high-profile, creative agency that produces high-quality films that tell a story and make a persuasive point. You should follow Sandwich to be inspired to make fun content that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Not all unconventional marketing strategies are good, and not all good marketing strategies are unconventional. As a video marketer, you have to leverage strategies that make your brand stand apart but in a good way.
This can be especially tricky if you're marketing a brand you do not own. You cannot take as many risks when marketing a client's products and services. Some of the unconventional video marketing campaigns covered in this post will be applicable to your situation, while others will be irrelevant in your context.
Keep your position in mind as you choose the ones that work for you. And remember to always have empathy for your audience and to move like a creator and not a marketer.