Weave Folklore Into Your Native Video Strategy

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One of the biggest trends rippling across the digital media industry has been a shift towards "native video," branded content on publisher sites and social media platforms that users actively choose to engage with. Marketers will spend over a billion dollars this year on Facebook's in-feed video ads, and overall spending on digital video is expected to double by 2019.


The "native video" format itself embodies the complexity of any digital marketing effort, as the successful execution of online video campaigns vary significantly depending on the context, from in-feed units on social platforms like Snapchat and Pinterest, to out stream placements on publisher websites. In our previous post, we discussed how the elements of folklore can inspire branded stories that transcend any particular platform, format, or device, and this is especially true for video.


Below are some examples of how brands are effectively weaving the key characteristics of folklore—from archetypal characters to moral lessons—into their native video campaigns.


CHIPOTLE'S ONE-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS HEIGHTEN THE STAKES OF MODERN FOOD PRODUCTION


Folklore tends to contain characters that are either heroes or villains. The contrast not only more readily captures an audience's attention, but also heightens the dramatic tension, keeping them engaged throughout the story. Chipotle's award-winning animated videos "Back to the Start" and "The Scarecrow" follow the narrative of a small-town farmer rising up against the impersonal monolith of an industrial food processing company. The same story could have been told without such cartoonish proportions, but then it wouldn't have inspired millions of people to watch and share the video (and also enjoy an occasional, sustainably-cultivated Chipotle burrito).


PURINA'S VIRAL VIDEO CAN BE SUMMED UP IN THREE WORDS: MAN MEETS PUPPY


In order to be easily shared, folklore must contain a simple yet appealing narrative, something that can be relayed orally between two people in even the briefest exchange. Purina's viral "Puppyhood" video follows the story of a man and his newly adopted puppy as they get to know one another. The narrative can be summed up in three words ("Man meets puppy") or one adorable image, and this simplicity is part of the reason it has been shared so many times across a variety of text-based and visual social media channels. The clip's popularity has also spawned several follow-up episodes, along with a companion microsite filled with educational content for the first-time puppy owner.


DOVE'S 'REAL BEAUTY' CAMPAIGN ECHOES TIMELESS TRUTHS ABOUT HUMAN APPEARANCE


Folklore can only be relevant across multiple generations and cultures if it taps into some kind of universal truth—a moral lesson or honest reflection about what it means to be human. Chipotle celebrates creativity and mindfulness over efficiency, Purina recalls the simple pleasures of human-canine bonding, and Dove continues to inspire audiences with its decade-long "Real Beauty" campaign. The series showcases Photoshop-free pictures and video interviews with women, representing a range of ethnicities and ages and body types, a direct challenge to pervading stereotypes about what society—and competitors' advertising campaigns—consider "beautiful."


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It's important to note that in all of these examples, the product is not the hero of the story. Native video has emerged as a powerful new format in part because it offers audiences a story that informs or entertains. Any brand that wishes to create a new piece of modern folklore must ensure that those narratives can stand apart and appeal to audiences on their own merit.


Otherwise, it will no longer be a story that people want to watch, but more explicitly an advertisement that they'll want to skip.

By Leann Kirwan, Creative Solutions Specialist at AOL Canada