In the old days, we’d make commercials and buy media space to air them. In other words, we were living in our Mad Men world—but probably without the booze and other bad behavior. Now, of course, we’re in the age of YouTube, in which a lot of CEOs are spending so much time watching video clips on their computers that they are now asking, “What’s our YouTube strategy?”
Never mind that most of the videos involve cats playing the piano, or penguins being tickled. These days, web video is serious stuff, even if the video is designed to make you laugh as the built-in marketing messages sink in. And video is closely related to social media because people are using their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to share whatever they find—and occasionally mash it up.
The video mashup is a whole genre by itself, with all kinds of parodies and video mayhem all over the web channels. Anyone with a decent computer can re-create someone else’s video and cast it in a whole new light. And what goes for entertainment videos also holds true for web content geared towards selling things. How do you control your brand and message when just by publishing it you instantly lose control?
The answer is that YouTube, the web, and social media in general require us to let go of the reins; after all, one of the key reasons people enjoy the web is because they have greater control of their experience. Ultimately, customers are in charge—no matter what. If someone grabs one of your marketing videos and mashes it up, and that newer/altered version gets more play on the web, then more people are talking about your company. You’re not being ignored. You’re in the arena. Is it riskier than the days of Don Draper broadcasting his unchangeable commercials? Yes, but those days are gone anyway, so there’s no point even making the comparison. If you really want to get seen and talked about, then go for it.
As an active demonstration of this idea, here are two videos for you to look at. The first is a video created by Purple Feather, a UK based agency, titled “The Power of Words.”
The second link is to a mashup of the video edited by Captains of Industry:
Purple Feather’s video has received millions of hits on YouTube so they’re building their brand. They also have no control over their video, as evidenced by our mashup. If our altered version gets seen by lots of people, I would argue that it won’t hurt the Purple Feather brand one bit. In fact, it will only spur more people to find out about them.
What do you think?