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COVID-19 will redefine the way we produce and consume content forever.
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We are devoting our Knowledge section to everything you need to know about the ways our industry is changing. If you have any questions at all, or want us to feature something here, please drop us a line and we'll be happy to help you.

Nick Francis

Nick Francis
Nick is Chairman of Casual Films. He co-founded the company in 2006 following a stint at the BBC. As a director/producer he won lots of awards for his work internationally, including the prestigious IVCA Best Director Gold. Nick spends his (working) time thinking about how to make Casual the best production company our clients could possibly imagine. He is a keen snowboarder, photographer and cyclist. He lives in California with his family and usually doesn’t talk about himself in the third person. Usually.
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Recent Posts

How much does a film cost?

Posted by Nick Francis
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Creating content costs less than ever these days. New technology has put the power of production studios in our mobile phones. We are all savvier than ever about how a film goes together. You have everything you need to create and share content right now. Even for professionally produced content these advances have fed a drastic reduction in the time and cost of creating a like-for-like piece of work over the last decade or so.

That having been said, in order to ‘cut through’ to our audience online we should be sharing more content than we ever have before – so it’s just as well that it’s cheaper. Because of this there has been a significant move towards getting as much mileage as possible out of all the content that we create. ‘Content atomisation’ – taking the central piece of content and then reediting and repurposing it to maximise the mileage. The cost of each output has fallen, even if the cost of the overall project is often the same.

How much does a film cost?

Screen Shot 2020-09-10 at 9.52.09 PM

This is one of the most common questions people ask. There are a few different ways of answering it but to save beating around the bush, the simplest answer is that an average Casual Films project for the financial year to 2019 was $18k in the US and £15k in the UK/EU.

The key word there though is project, as often these can entail a number of different outputs and reedits. More usually we will create a series of films that cost more in the $/£60k -100k region. Some projects extend into the hundreds of thousands, but these tend to be many outputs in one.

Can you breakdown those costs?

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Because at around $18k/£15k we begin to be able to add significant value to the project with our proprietary production process. Our pricing is defined by the amount of time that it takes to create each project. Different roles in the process cost differing amounts depending on their experience, expertise and impact on the project. At this budgetary level there is enough budget for two or three days of creative - to get a great idea - some producer time to make it all happen, a day or two to shoot it and then editing, sound design and some animation if necessary. They will be able to create something fairly sparkly, as long as they don't need to work around too many fixed costs - travel, talent, specialist equipment.

I have no budget! What’s the cheapest film you can make?

Screen Shot 2020-09-10 at 9.52.32 PM

The lowest that we tend to start a project is around $/£8k, although if we have an existing relationship then we can and do go a little lower. We tend to not compete for projects at the really low end because there are lots of smaller producers and freelancers out there who do a decent job at this level. We’re not able to add the same value we are when the projects have a little room for a bit more creative thought and sparkle.

As a rule, if this is your first question we’re probably not the right company for you. We compete on being able to create things happen for your business with video – optimising for return on investment rather than being as cheap as possible.

Can you work to my budget?

Screen Shot 2020-09-10 at 9.52.39 PM

The process of filmmaking is creative, so the budget becomes an additional constraint that the creative thinking needs to work around – like the timeframe, branding or specific messaging. Because of this, it can be extremely flexible – it’s possible to fulfil the same objectives for significantly different investment levels. On the other hand, quality, in-depth thinking and delivery take time, and time costs money. If you need to shoot in a number of different locations or include significant amounts of complex animation these are hard costs which are challenging to work around.

Promoting your content

For years, there has been a disconnect between where marketing money gets spent and where the real potential lies. In studies, researchers have found that the quality of creative messaging is responsible for up to 75% of a campaign’s success. In spite of this, as much as 90% of the overall spend is often still focused on the media budget.

"75% of a campaign’s effectiveness is defined by the quality of the creative messaging"

- Google

Traditional television marketing became so successful largely because of how strong the metrics that were available to support it were. One of the major challenges that online content has faced over the years is the challenge of showing direct causation between money spent and the return on that investment.

But this isn’t necessarily about spending more money on marketing than you already are. Creating and executing a comprehensive and effective content strategy can be about redistributing the money you’re already investing. Why, for example, are you spending hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on the production of TV commercials when the vast majority of your audience watch them for the first time as a small image on their Facebook feed, momentarily pausing before scrolling onwards, and paying very little attention to them?

DOWNLOAD COMMANDMENTS

The past six months has really demonstrated how creative we can get given such stringent limitations. Casual Films has pivoted to continue to meet our clients' needs even in our new normal. Need to communicate ever-changing strategy? We've got you covered with delightful animations and snappy edits. Absolutely need to show your employees or facilities? Our team is well-versed in all the COVID-safe precautions to make filming in-person both safe and effective. Contact us today to learn more. 

Topics: Production process, Being a better commissioner, How-to, Project management

#ThoughtforThursday: Seven Billion Boiling Frogs

Posted by Nick Francis
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[Photo - San Francisco from Tank Hill - 11am September 9th, 2020]

Last year, 259,823 acres of California burned. This year (already) over 2,300,000 acres have burned.

If the existential threat that climate change represents was in another form - physical, more tangible, more immediate - every able body would be signing up to do everything they could to come together, fight and overcome it. Governments around the world would be on a global war setting, spending may times GDP on beating a foe many times more deadly and damaging than Covid-19, or any rogue nation.
We are frogs, slowly boiling alive as the temperature rises imperceptibly. Every so often a bubble rises in the pot - a new report, another climate record broken - that should remind us of the situation we're in. Each time though, we just carry on. We need to do everything we can to sort out our planet, so that we can pass on the same incredible gift that we received.

It's possibly already too late.

Topics: Purpose driven video, About Casual, Culture & Values, Coronavirus Content, Thought for Friday, Sustainability

#ThoughtforThursday: Photography and Video

Posted by Nick Francis
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So alike and so different, video production and photography are children from the same parents.

Photography: more mature, and naturally restrained: the older sibling. More suggestive due to the need to understand why the photographer laid their frame where they did.

Video: the dynamic, boisterous youngster. Noisy, approachable and engaging - in the kitchen at the party. Photography is in the main room with sharp dressers.

With so much time to contemplate the changing world from our home windows at the minute, our global party would be inconceivable without them.

Topics: About Casual, Culture & Values, Coronavirus Content, Thought for Friday

#ThoughtforThursday: Content is King

Posted by Nick Francis
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"Content is King"

- Bill Gates

Content is king, which is why great content is the kingmaker. This is why it is such stunningly big business for those who choose to do battle in this arena. Last year, Netflix spent $15 billion, Amazon $6 billion, Apple $6 billion and HBO and Hulu on $3.5 billion and $3 billion respectively (not with Casual I should add!). That’s significantly more than Canada or Australia spend on their defence!

But then, they are in the content business – it’s their product – so of course they will invest in it. What’s a little less well understood is just how important having the best content is for the rest of the business world. There are of course benefits in having advertising that is so good that your audience choose to share it online - check out our blog on producing viral videos. Beyond this how valuable is it for prospective employees to search out more about your company because of a film for example or to pique the interest of a potential investor?

The follow up which is often used to the idea that content is king is that context is queen. Context makes all the difference – just remember the time you missed that the fancy dress wedding wasn’t fancy dress. The corona virus crisis has changed – and will continue to change - the context for all of us for years to come. The question is just how much, if at all, that will change the value of the content that we all produce, share and consume.

Topics: About Casual, Culture & Values, Coronavirus Content, Thought for Friday

How to Make a Viral Video

Posted by Nick Francis
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Content 'going viral' is regarded by many as the Holy Grail of online marketing. The idea that you could create a piece of promotional material that will capture just the right combination of je ne sais quoi to be shared hundreds of thousands, or even millions of times with minimal spend. It’s a compelling idea, which is probably why it holds such sway.

At Casual, we have been asked countless times  videos to ‘be viral’ or to ‘go viral’ by various clients. It's not always quite that simple though. That’s not to say that there are not examples of incredible success in this area, but they tend to be more through an unreliable accident, or careful planning and execution and usually significant investment to help to give them a good push.

150914.brandvideo

The Psychology of Viral Video

There are of course different levels of ‘virality’. While millions or even billions of views might be good for the ego, you may only need a few thousand of the ‘right’ people to see it to get the result you’re after. You will be better placed to create these campaigns if you understand the psychological effects that makes your audience want to share them.

There are a number of reasons for this, each one driven by a small dopamine release in the brain. The larger the release, the more chance that the audience will share the content. Videos that drive this awe, amuse, surprise, endear, shock, excite, disgust or trigger nostalgia. You can see Statista's analysis of the emotions that drive people to share content online here:

Emotions that Drive Content to Go Viral

 

Beyond this, people share content for the following reasons:

  • To connect over a shared interest.
  • To help others with products and/or relevant advice.
  • To boost their reputation.
  • To look on trend / au fait with the latest events.
  • To be involved in current trends/events.
  • To make a statement about themselves.
  • To be able to socialise offline.
  • To promote a cause they believe in or want to be seen to believe in.
  • To demonstrate their own knowledge or ability.
  • To start an online conversation.

What are the steps to Viral Video then?

So what should you include in your campaign to help it with your audience? Having understood the psychology or your audience there are a number of factors that are worth considering to give your campaign the best chance of runaway success:

1. Personality

Video's most powerful facet is its ability to communicate personality and emotion. Think about some of the most effective viral videos of all time they all include a significant amount of human character. Build your creative treatment around a really engaging personality to help your audience to engage. Powerful personalities bring the message to life, whether you are sharing something touching - as in the Dove Real Beauty Sketches below - or humorous - as we can see in the fantastically successful launch video for Dollar Shave Club...


Dollar Shave Club

One of the most famous and successful online promos of all time was the “Our Blades are F***ing Great” spot produced by Dollar Shave Club. The video features the founder/CEO walking through the company warehouse delivering an informative and hilarious piece to camera. Launched in March 2012, the video inspired over 12,000 orders on that first day alone and drove the successful launch of the company. Dollar Shave Club was acquired by Unilever for $1 billion just four years later.

This is a brilliant example of the power of video in the Internet age. It was viral in the true sense of the world, and, at the time of writing, it has nearly 26 million views. Its budget of $4,500 is often touted as a reason for businesses to be extremely cost conscious in the video they produce. It’s not quite as simple as this, though. Michael Dubin, the founder/CEO and star of the video had spent years working in the marketing industry, and even had some acting and improv comedy experience. It’s estimated that to create a similar film, without this background or these skills, a company would need to spend around $40K. This is still a comparatively small amount next to the revenue and valuation it was able to drive.

From the outset, Dubin used his branding experience to make all of Dollar Shave Club’s products and marketing the perfect match for its target market. The ‘Blades’ video and the variety of other similarly toned content that it has shared over the years, sets the tone for a brand that people want to be a part of.


2. Think about the Audience

We really bang this drum a lot at Casual but the originals are often the best: tailor your content to your audience. Do the work to understand who they are, what they find interesting and what some of their cultural references are. This will help you to create content that resonates with them and which they're more likely to share.

You can learn more about identifying your audience in this blog here.

Old Spice were particularly effective in nailing their audience targeting with with their 2010 'Man your man could smell like' ad - featuring the rather dishy Isiah Mustafa. They realised that the majority of mens toiletries are bought by their partners. Armed with this, Mustafa's good looks and good amount of irreverent humour, they produced this hugely popular ad:

 

 

Old Spice - The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

3. Make the production extra ‘tight’

To stand the best chance, your videos need to be lean - shorn of any flab which will damp the impact. Give the script, edit and sound design an extra pass through to make sure that only the most essential elements are there. People get bored easily. If you are going for barnstorming success (which you are), you don’t want any filler at all in there. This can be a lot harder than you would expect - particularly if there are a number of stakeholders feeding into the process.

4. Brand

Of course - if you are going to pay for it, it is important that the people who see it understand who made it. There is a deft tight rope to walk to not turn the audience off by being too brand heavy. or sales. This is certainly not the time for an overtly salesy pitch. It's more a time for you to share something which your audience will feel aligns with their worldview and values.  This is something that Dove gets absolutely on the button with this touching spot which reflects Dove's concept of purity perfectly.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches


 

Allianz #MyCarStory

Brief

Our brief was to revitalise the ongoing #MyCarStory campaign that had just launched as a TV campaign. The campaign contained content around sporting events, as Allianz are sponsors of many sport associations including Formula One and the British Paralympic Association. Allianz wanted new video content that would resonate with their online audience, especially female viewers. Our challenge was to come up with a cost-effective way to produce multiple pieces of content that featured interesting contributors.

Target Audience

The target audience for this campaign was female audience members on YouTube and Facebook.

Idea

Our idea was to get two car-owning families to share unfiltered memories of their special journeys. We filmed three unscripted stories with each family, allowing natural conversations, emotions and opinions to flow freely. The stories were captured from different angles on in-car camera rigs as the families drove around the area associated with their memory. Each story was cut into a 60-second video and shared as an individual film across Facebook and YouTube.

 

Creative Execution

After speaking to over 20 potential sets of contributors, we cast two families: The Hamers and The Kirks. The greatest challenge in the creative execution wasn’t rigging the cars with GoPros, but recording sound on a loop so that the Director, following in the car behind, could speak directly to the family. The Director and Producer team would encourage the families in real-time to discuss certain topics, redo takes and generally direct them remotely.

Results

Over the course of the five week campaign, the films were viewed by over 2.5 million people. 1.5 million of those viewers were in the first few weeks alone.

The film was able to effectively engage the core audience of female audience members. A majority of the 67 comments left on The Hamer's ‘Labour’ video posted on Facebook were from mums sharing their own labour stories. ‘Flying the Nest’ was also popular amongst female Facebook users who commented about their own families. The films posted to Allianz UK’s YouTube channel also performed exceptionally well, garnering an ‘off the scale’ view completion rate of 88%. The traffic to these films was also completely organic, shooting the series to the top of the channel’s most viewed content.

“The results are some of the best that the YouTube team at Google have ever seen… The videos’ view completion rate of 88% is ‘off the scale’.”

- YouTube


5. Marketing - be prepared to give your content a 'push'

No matter how good your content is - and by now I'm sure it's incredible - it's vanishingly unlikely that it will be picked up and shared widely if you don't invest to get it seen by the right audience.  There are a number of different channels you can use to share your content:

Earned Paid Owned MarketingOwned media

These are all the channels for which you own the control. They include your website, social pages, intranet and internal staff communications. The information here is what your brand says and what people say to you. Around 90% of online conversations about brands do not take place on their own pages. This means you have to get out there to influence these conversations.

Earned media

Your earned media are shares of your content, and articles and blogs written about your channels. This is what people say about you. You earn views here by creating content that people want to engage with and share.

Paid media

Your paid channels are, unsurprisingly, the ones you have to pay for. They include paid posts, traditional advertising and programmatic marketing...

 

Programmatic Marketing

This is using software to buy advertising space in real time. This has made a process that used to take a significant amount of time almost instantaneous. This is useful to you because it allows you to accurately target your audience with your content. It’s successful because it’s efficient and it reduces the amount of money that gets spent on showing content to the wrong people.

The system also allows you to continually optimise the targeting, so that it improves over time. It also allows different types of content to be shown to a specific viewer, depending on which pieces of content they have watched or interacted with in the past.

It’s not perfect, though. There have been a number of scandals which have led to major advertisers reducing ad spend from YouTube as it emerged that the platform had displayed their commercials alongside distasteful content. There have also been questions around ad fraud and the amount of budget that goes on showing content to bots.

 

Dynamic creative optimisation (DCO)

Another element of programmatic marketing is dynamic creative optimisation or DCO. This takes the same understanding of the audience that programmatic retargeting does but uses it to serve content that is optimised to engage them. For example, there are two people who are interested in buying a car. One is a successful, single woman in her 30s, and the other is a father of three in his 40s. DCO would allow the same company to advertise directly to them both, with content that is designed to pique their interest. It could do this by serving the woman an ad for a two-seater convertible and the father an ad for a people carrier. This makes the content far more effective, and it’s a step towards the full personalisation of marketing.


6. Post effectively

The way that you upload and label your content can play a significant part in the how successful it is online. This will define whether people find it and click on it in the first place. While these are not going to save a project that has gone awry they can really help you to improve your videos engagement.

i. Make thumbnail image perfect

First impressions count. The first thing your audience will see is the title and thumbnail, so they are almost more important than the content itself. This means they need to be eye-catching. Generally images with people in them get better response rates than those without. It is also useful to add the title onto the thumbnail so that the viewer can see quickly what your video is about.

ii. The name should be impactful / match what people are looking for / their search intent

For example, ‘How to Change a Road Bike Tyre’ or, ‘Change Bike Tyres Like a Pro’ is going to get a lot more hits than ‘tyre_ video_ final_ v.5’. This raises another point. The title that you have been using in production should be changed before you share the video. It looks really sloppy, and is not searchable or clickable.

Final Final v.2

Another point you may already be aware of is never call an output ‘final’, ‘finished’, ‘last output’, etc. I’m not particularly superstitious, but I know that there is a powerful natural force that strikes down such hubris with previously unseen, time-consuming errors. In the thousands of films we have made, and the tens of thousands of different edits that have been output, I am not aware of a single ‘final’ version that ended up being that.

iii. Don't share clickbait - the name must reflect the content of the film

If your audience can’t find it because the name is too obscure, or if they do watch it but find that the title has misled them, they will let you and other users know about it. You don’t want to get a load of negative reviews because your audience feel like you’ve duped them.

iv. A/B Testing

Just as you can optimise the content of your videos, so you must optimise the title and thumbnail. You must see which combination is the most effective at engaging your target audience. A/B testing entails sharing two or more different concepts/titles/images, and then judging which is the most effective. You do this by reviewing the responses you get from your chosen audience. For example, you may find that when you use the title, ‘Top 5 Ways to Target the Tech-Savvy Grads with Video’ you get a better response than when you use ‘Recruiting Tech Grads – A Guide to Video’.


If you are interested in discussing a campaign, a video, or even just want a little guidance on anything video related, our team of experienced filmmakers are on hand to help. Drop us a message here and one of the team will get straight back to you.

Topics: Increase brand awareness and appeal, Being a better commissioner

#ThoughtforThursday: Have a Great Independence Day

Posted by Nick Francis
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Whether or not a ‘special relationship’ exists at an international level, it has always been a pleasure as a Brit to work, socialise and, for some of us, live among our American cousins. There is a shared respect which underpins our relationships. As Brits, we admire the energy, positivity and ambition of our US friends. For Americans, there is the history, creativity and worldliness of those from Britain.

Whatever the challenges we face, at a personal level there is still so much to celebrate and be thankful for. As we mark the birth of the US this weekend – a birth achieved through our separation - we hope that companies that straddle our nations like Casual Films can continue to show what we’re capable of when we all work together. And long may that continue. Most of all though, we’d like to wish all Americans a cracking - and safe - weekend!

Topics: About Casual, Culture & Values, Coronavirus Content, Thought for Friday

#ThoughtforThursday: The High Water Mark in the Power of Video?

Posted by Nick Francis
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For a time many of us believed social media would usher in an ‘Age of Transparency’. Now that citizens could report anything that happened in any part of the world, business and government would be held to account. Some people even suggested the death of the PR industry because – as the wisdom went – you can’t spin the truth. That seems to be an age ago now. Few who welcomed this new age foresaw just how subjective a concept that 'Truth' would be.

What has been undeniable over recent weeks is just how powerful an invention the cell phone camera has become. For the whole of time it has been easy for the majority of the population to dismiss, or overlook the reported mistreatment of minorities. Where the Age of Transparency has delivered in spades is in the reportage of the violent police response to protests in response to police violence. The shocking images, shared instantly are undeniable and cannot be ignored.

Whatever you settle on as the protest symbol of the 20th century, the phone camera has a rightful claim to be the symbol for the 21st. Effective video has always had the power to magnify the experience of the individual to reflect the story of the many. Video’s potency has never been greater. As deep fakes reduce the trustworthiness of the medium in the near future we will look back on this summer of protest as the high water mark for the power of the tool that we as filmmakers treasure so deeply.

Topics: About Casual, Culture & Values, Coronavirus Content, Thought for Friday

#ThoughtforThursday: Time to learn

Posted by Nick Francis
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One of the hardest things to talk about as a white person is racism and the ways in which we have benefitted from society's systemic bias against people of color. The past days have been challenging - forcing us all to confront truths that we have previously shied away from. It has been heartening to see the groundswell of support for reform sweeping our world.

We are learning more by the day. One key point is the idea that the system is so endemically biased that - as people who have been exceptionally privileged in life – if we are not taking specific action to counteract that bias, then we are guilty of racism through our inaction. This is an extremely challenging idea. We like to think of ourselves as decent, conscientious, equitable people, of course. In fact, perversely, the more decent you think you are the more challenging this principle becomes.

We have always been proud of the work we have done at Casual, particularly with our Academy. But we need to acknowledge that this is not enough; that there is far, far more that we can and must do. We have a number of ideas - from educating ourselves and targeted recruitment, to giving our custom to minority owned businesses - and we are working on the specifics. We will share our full plan next week. For now though, we are working to be better and are keen to hear your thoughts - if you want to get in touch.

Topics: About Casual, Culture & Values, Coronavirus Content, Thought for Friday

Post-Corona Content: 4. Create Great Videos for your Audience

Posted by Nick Francis
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OK - so you have reviewed and are clear on what you want your content to achieve and who exactly your audience are. You also understand the value in using your business' purpose as a cornerstone for all the content that you share. You're well on your way to creating a content strategy that will get things kick started post-Corona.

This time we share all the different ways that you can use video to communicate with your audience. The simple answer is that there are loads of ways. Here we share a number of different films from our back catalogue to get you inspired to get back out again.


Quality vs quantity

As an established brand, online visitors will expect you to have a decent, video-led web presence. Don’t fall into the trap of just creating and sharing any old material because the space is there. There was a stage where the prevailing wisdom seemed to be that these platforms were effectively a content void, which needed to be filled with whatever might be available. This has led to some significant household-name businesses sharing very- poor-quality material online – which is badly filmed, badly thought out, too long, too banal and too badly organised. This colours what visitors think of your business, harming your standing.

To minimise this risk, you should focus on quality over quantity. Not necessarily high production quality, but at least high concept quality. Technological advancement has put quality production in the hands of your staff – just make sure they put time and thought into using it. Efficiently curated videos, ideally on your own website or hosted on YouTube, can take a big step towards fulfilling the potential that video holds for your brand.

 

Defining your channel brand or tone

All content has a style or tone. Think about how the different traditional broadcasters have their own tone or brand. Just as the tone of Fox News differs from the BBC, so should you establish your own channel’s tone. To begin with, I would recommend that your content’s tone conforms to your broader brand. Over time, you may find that it can start to diverge. This is understandable – and may be desirable – but it should be a function of you gaining the trust of the audience and then pushing it incrementally. First and foremost, the content you share must feel authentic to the audience.

Evening Standard Independent - Baileys

Once you have decided what the brand is going to be, it is worth setting down some brand guidelines to keep you on track over time. This can vary from the technical (e.g. what resolutions you should film in) and the aesthetic (e.g. colour schemes) to the tone of voice (e.g. how you should talk).

Once you have a guide of all the things the channel should do or say, it’s worth making a list of all the things that it shouldn’t. Now test it. Does what you are saying sound right? Does it sound authentically like your brand? You might want to share your thoughts with a few people, particularly some members of the target audience.

Remember that the brand is a living thing, so it may well evolve over time. Keep in mind that whatever you share has to feel authentic to the audience. Nothing will end in painful shame faster than your brand doing the marketing equivalent of ‘dad dancing’. If you can find a message that really resonates with your audience, they can and will amplify it many times over. You should look for content that presents this opportunity. Unfortunately, if you get it wrong, it can work against you in exactly the opposite way.

 


TRUE: A simple way to think about creating content of value for your audience.

In terms of thinking about your content, a simple guide to this is that the audience are looking for something that is TRUE; that is, timely, relevant, useful or entertaining. The better you understand your audience, the more effective the content that you create for them will be.

Let’s look at what is meant by each of those terms:

Timely

Timing is key to effective content. Think about how successful Oreo was with its ‘You Can Dunk in the Dark’ tweet, when the lights went out during the 2013 Super Bowl. It was picked up by the 23 million Twitter users who were watching the game and ended up being regarded as the ad of the evening – a title that many companies had spent millions of dollars for a shot at, and failed. It goes without saying that what is timely for one viewer is annoyingly late for another – the correct advice 30 seconds after you have made a decision is annoying.

oreo

Oreo - Inspired Tweeting...

Relevant

As we touched on previously, the content has to be relevant to the audience. This almost goes without saying – we all constantly filter the information that assails us every waking moment. Because of this, your audience are keenly aware of what does and doesn’t apply to them. Think about what is going to be relevant for your viewers – this might now be directly obvious. For example, if you’re trying to market an apprentice scheme to school leavers, they may be interested in advice on renting a home for the first time. This information is obviously not so interesting to those looking to move job as an experienced hire. This underlines the importance of understanding your audience and what is relevant to them.

A word of warning here, according to research by LinkedIn, 44% of their respondents said they would consider ending a relationship with a brand because of irrelevant promotions. An additional 22% said that they would ‘definitely defect’ from that brand.  Knowing your audience and making content that is relevant to them is essential.

Useful

One step on from being relevant is content that is actually useful. Providing how-tos, instructions, discounts and tie-ins with other products that they may be using are all ways of being useful to your audience. Once again, what is useful to your viewers might not be immediately obvious – look at the previous example. Home-renting advice is also useful to the target audience. These different types of value do not exist in isolation – each piece of content can be a combination of one or more things.

Entertaining

We all need a little entertainment from time to time. If you can get it right, this is a great way of drawing in your audience and winning them over. Tread carefully with this though – you have to make sure that whatever you share ties in with your brand. You need to earn the trust of the audience before making drastic departures in tone of voice.

The content you produce doesn’t need to be all of those things at the same time – any one or two will work, as long as it/they provide enough value in that given area. The more entertaining and relevant your work content is, for example, the more the chance there is that it will be watched, shared and loved.

Different ways of skinning a cat

Google defines the different ways of engaging your audience with your content slightly differently:

  • »  Inspire the audience with emotional and relatable stories
  • »  Educate the audience with useful information
  • »  Entertain the audience by surprising them, making them laugh or sharing spectacular content

There is no right or wrong way of looking at these; they are just a different way of looking at the same underlying principles. I hope that seeing them from a slightly different angle will help you to understand them and use them.


Using your Business Values and Purpose to Inform Your Content

[Read the post here]

It can be a little baffling to think about all the different types of content you might want to make. A useful way to start is by looking at your business’s values and purpose. All the content that you create (no matter how disparate the actual subject matter) should be in some way a physical manifestation of your purpose and brand values. For example, Red Bull’s purpose is to give wings to people and their ideas. This is manifested in the nature of the types of people, sports and events that it features on its channel.

If you can follow this rule, your content will be far more cohesive in its nature and will do a more effective job of building your brand equity. Whatever your corporate purpose, your channel gives you an unrivalled opportunity to make something that is, by its nature, intangible into something tangible.

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

– Oscar Wilde

 


Keeping it Real: Allianz #CarStories - Case study

Allianz insurance wanted to promote the fact that, by providing car insurance, it facilitates all the family time that gets spent in cars. It was an interesting insight on what could be seen as a fairly dry, but essential, product. Initially, it asked its advertising agency to create a commercial to promote this message. It set to work, spending an eye-watering budget on expensive crews, actors, locations, lighting and equipment.

 

 

Where it really went wrong was in using actors to play the family. Despite the fact that they did a decent job, the viewer can immediately identify that the film feels contrived and bogus. It doesn’t chime with our own gut sense of how a family interacts. Allianz ended up pulling the commercial after a week.

As part of the online activation, Casual worked with Allianz’s below- the-line agency to create something a little more heartfelt. The films focus on a series of real families driving in their car and talking about different subjects, from the safari park to when the parents brought the new baby home for the first time. The families were interviewed in depth by a producer beforehand, to judge their appropriateness and the potential subjects they could feature.

Allianz - #CarStories

Having chosen the right families, the team then removed as much of the production crew and equipment from the cars as was feasible. The goal here was to allow the families to be as normal and genuine in their interactions as possible. To do this, they used a ‘fixed rig’ of cameras in the car to record the family from a number of angles. The production team travelled in the car behind, recording sound and feeding the family discussion topics.

The resulting 14 45-second videos were featured on the company’s Facebook page, where the heartfelt interactions and kids’ funny statements made them a massive it. Their short length and poignant content made them particularly touching. On YouTube, the videos got an 87% view- completion rate – which is practically unheard of – this is so high that Google got in touch with us to ask us how we had managed it.

The only answer was that, having chosen the ‘right’ families, we removed as much of the artifice as possible and let the family interactions speak for themselves. It’s amazing what you can get when you set the cameras up and have the confidence to just let real life happen.


What can video be used for?

One of the major challenges we had when we started Casual was that video can be used for such a wide range of things. Before we realised the importance of focus, we would answer the question, “So, what can you make films about?” with the pretty useless, “Almost anything”. Over time, we learned to be a bit more specific, and, in the last 10 years, we have made films that bring the whole of the employee lifestyle to life, from initial awareness, through recruitment, and on to ongoing engagement, and learning and development. We’ve even made films that retain and build a network of alumni for those who’ve moved on. We’ve made product promotions, adverts, discount films, branded content and conference openers. Some of these with actors and others with online influencers, with helicopters, drones and bodycams.

Casual has made over 8,000 different films for almost everything a company could want a film for. It’s really important to understand that film or moving images can enhance any message you might have to share. Video is a great way of weaving emotion into selected facts. This increases their impact, memorability and the chance that people will act on them. Let’s look at some of the ways that video has been used by corporate communicators. We use the following classifications at Casual to separate all the different things that our clients have used our work for in the past. This is not exhaustive, but it does give a picture of the breadth of uses. Some of these are quite similar – or even overlap – and rely on similar attributes of video for their effectiveness.

 

Boost sales

Greater Anglia Railways - Spring Campaign

“Shoppers who view video are 1.81X more likely to purchase than non-viewers.”

– Adobe, 2015

The most common films made by companies, which we see in our day-to- day lives, are those designed to sell things. From the dawn of TV, advertisers have been promoting their wares, using every trick in the filmmaker’s book to introduce, promote and explain their products. Films that are able to do this remain the kings of corporate films. From the time in the 1940s and 1950s in which advertisers were able to show that there is a direct line of correlation between the amount spent and sales increases; the budgets for these short films have grown, in some cases to become eye-watering. The annual colosseum of televisual advertising – the US Super Bowl – boasts vast audiences, and hence has a cost of around US$2 million for a 30-second advertising spot. Each year, companies compete to outdo one another and be recognised as having the best commercials of the night.

At the other end of the spectrum, the prevalence of regional TV and now the spread of the Internet have made this type of marketing accessible to any business that wants to use it. There are a wide range of approaches available, from the relatively indirect to the focused sales activation described previously.

 

Encourage donations/funding

Breakthrough Breast Cancer - Chantel

The emotive power of video makes it an excellent tool for pulling on the audience’s heart strings, and getting them to part with their money or time. I’m sure you are aware of the way that charities have used videos since the 1980s. These can also extend to Kickstarter and crowdfunding campaigns. Video’s ability to simplify a message into a really compelling minute or so makes it excellent for this.

 

Introduce a business

ElectrifAi

As with encouraging funding, the ability to compress time and turn a ‘who we are’ PowerPoint presentation into a punchy 60-second promotion with music and branded graphics/colours makes video a useful tool to clarify exactly what your business does. The majority of websites that we have audited – over 1,000 thus far – are not using video on their homepage. They rely on the visitor being able to grasp what the business does in the few brief seconds before they click elsewhere. It is a truism that people/ businesses tend to market to themselves. As such, there is always far too much assumed knowledge, which makes websites impenetrable.

A video is a great way of capturing attention and explaining, in an accessible format, what the visitor should be looking for. This is why having a video on your homepage can improve click- through rates by up to 80%. This type of video can also be used in presentations, pitches, reception areas and for new joiners/potential recruits – anywhere you might want people to quickly understand, through compelling media, who you are and what you do.

 

Promote a product or service through explanation

FactSet - Portware

“4x as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.”

– Animoto, 2015

Explaining succinctly what a product or service is or does is another effective use of video. Once again, most businesses communicating anything assume too much background knowledge. In this instance, video can break down exactly what the product is and does, and build trust and understanding in an accessible package. This may be through an animation, which is effective when used to illustrate complex messaging, because of the ability to ‘show and tell’ at the same time as using accessible metaphors.

Another effective way to promote a service is through interview-led videos with experts, clients or users. These increase the audience’s trust in the product by borrowing from the featured subject’s standing: their expertise or experience. Interview-led films or ‘talking heads’ are useful because they are pretty much the cheapest videos to produce, and we find human faces innately intriguing .

 

Get people excited

The moving nature of video makes it a great tool for exciting an audience about something. Admittedly, this could be an extension of promoting a product or service. However, it is distinct in that the method is less based on relaying information and explaining, and more focused on generating a positive emotion in the audience. One way of looking at it might be to say that explainer films engage the logical left side of the brain, while a film to get people excited targets the feeling, creative right side. These usually employ a stirring script and a voiceover with powerful music to do this. Both of these types of film, explainer and exciter, aim for the same outcome, though – getting the audience more engaged.

 

Increase brand awareness / tell a story

 

 

Adobe - Making It

In reality, all the video content that companies share has the effect of building (or, unfortunately, sometimes damaging) their brand. Some videos are made specifically for this purpose, though. They may aim to align the business with a cause that matters to their target audience, or reflect on someone or something that they’re interested in. It may extend to them wanting to share a story related to the company – the history or something that has inspired them.

 

Attract the best candidates

Video is an excellent way to illustrate relatively intangible things, such as a company’s culture. Most people looking for a role at a new company will research what the job is about, beyond what is included in the job description. Video is a great way of sharing some of the things that make your company special.

 

Rolls-Royce - Germany

 

In the hyper-competitive job market, more and more companies are having to compete with the likes of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) for top technological talent. Simply put, all businesses are now technological businesses, so they have to recruit some of the brightest technological talent who would initially think about going to one of the aforementioned ‘Big Six’. This is particularly challenging given the absurdly deep pockets those companies have to hire staff.

The one area that other businesses can compete in is through an engaging, motivating and, crucially, well-communicated culture. Video can be invaluable in helping to build that culture, through communicating what the concept of the brand means. This is where video can be invaluable – it allows you to communicate with your potential (and current) staff on an emotional level. One point to note is that, in the age of resources such as Glassdoor (which allows employees to rate employers for all to see), it is important that the offer and reality align.

Recruitment videos are split into two categories: employer/employee value-proposition brand films and profile/day-in-the-life films. These then come in a variety of different subsections, covering all the different techniques that will be discussed. Videos to promote and clarify a company’s diversity and inclusion policies should be included here too.

 

Train your colleagues

IBM - Reputational Risks

Another type of internal communication that uses video is learning and development. The zero cost of distribution, and the ability to make changes and amendments to videos on an ongoing basis makes them useful for sharing information and training across a large organisation. Animation works well for information, and interactive video is good for training, because it allows viewers to choose responses and outcomes. The functionality of interactive video also allows for scorekeeping and sharing, which is a useful way of injecting a little competition into the learning process. Beyond that, simply being able to show videos and then have people discuss them helps to increase the effectiveness of the learning.

 

Change behaviour

The external equivalent of internal training, making films to inform and change behaviour, is nearly as old as film itself; for example, the public information films that were used to keep the population up to speed in the first half of the 20th century. The modern equivalents are usually produced by governments or charities.

 

Start a discussion/conversation

Action_Sustainability_Responsibilitiy_ (1)

Action Sustainability - Responsibility

Video removes any unnecessary information and pauses. This condenses the amount of time it takes to share different viewpoints in an argument, which makes it useful for setting up a discussion. Such videos are usually played at the beginning of an online/offline discussion, or to change to another subject.

 

Record an event

Avery Dennison - Plasticity Event

The quality of an event film is, understandably, usually tied to the quality of the event itself. It is a useful way of encapsulating what happened, what was discussed or featured, and who was there. With some appropriate music and a dynamic edit, the video becomes a useful tool for promoting forthcoming events too.

 

But not everything – emotion vs information

All this having been said, there are some things that video is not great at. Emotion and information exist in a balance in all films. Too much focus on emotion – with practically no information – and the film can feel superficial and lacking in substance (think of most fashion ads). Too much information and not enough emotion, and the film will be dry, difficult to follow and impenetrable (some corporate reports embody this pitfall).

They should be like yin and yang. In every informative film you should have a bit of emotion, and in every emotive film you should have a bit of information (even if that is a basic narrative structure). Because of this, if you have lots and lots of information to get across, video might not be the best way to do it. You will probably find it more effective to create a PDF document, use video to outline a few salient points and promote reading the PDF through a shorter, more engaging film.


Making the sale

Psychologists understand that we make the decision to act emotionally, but then we back up this decision logically. For example, in making the decision to buy a new car, an individual might choose a certain model because she likes the way it looks, the colour and how sitting in it makes her feel, but would then rationalise this decision through the great fuel economy, financing and crash-safety rating. Because of this, it’s important that the content you produce plays to both sides of your audience’s reasons for taking action. This is why really effective marketing campaigns combine two distinct angles: emotion-driving brand building and logically appealing sales activation. Let’s look at these two in a little more depth.


Brand building

“Video advertising, both on and offline, is the most effective brand-building form.”

– IPA Media in Focus Report

Brand building focuses on creating a positive emotional connection with the brand. These are the associations and beliefs that make the customer more likely to buy from one brand over another. This requires repeated exposure to consistent messaging, slowly building a compelling image of what that brand represents, produces and stands for. While this takes time to achieve, the effects are deep seated in the audience and lead to the best long-term effects.

The consistent nature of brand building has the additional benefit of creating followers among people who might not be in the market for the brand’s product at the time of exposure. This is important because the audience are not looking to purchase for the majority of the time. Video’s emotive power makes it an extremely valuable tool because it is so much more memorable.

Accidental Icon - GoDaddy

Creating raving fans/evangelists

Brand building also gives you the opportunity to build your customers into advocates for your brand. Each interaction they have with you will make them feel either more or less positive about you. Your product, delivery and customer service all play into this, but so does your content strategy. With everyone now having the power to communicate at their fingertips, you should be looking to build each of your customers to the point where they will do your marketing for you.

This is the most effective form of marketing available – the challenge is that it’s hard to do at scale. On the one hand, this may be writing positive reviews, defending what you do in chat rooms or simply recommending your product to their friends. This may also be by retweeting a video you have created, because it resonates so strongly with them, or reediting and sharing some content that you created for that purpose. Whatever it is, you must build their brand loyalty and then make it as easy as possible for them to do this for you. The process from sceptics, through customers and into advocates is shown below:

NicBook_Diagrams_v04_CD-12

Raving fans love your brand so much that they practically can’t stop going on about it. This is your goal for as many of your audience/customers as possible.

Sales activation

Sales activation is targeted at those who are likely to buy in the very near future. This aims to encourage the buyer into making a purchase and aims to make the purchase as frictionless as possible. These include discounts, vouchers, special offers, unique experiences, seasonal sales and are far more targeted to the individual than the broader nature of brand-building content. The more bought into your brand your audience are, the more effective this type of content will be. This is a great opportunity to further strengthen your follower base by offering them favourable terms if they are a subscriber to your channel.

Sothebys House Guest - Teaser

Sales-activation messages take advantage of the positive brand associations that you have built up in other areas and with your other communications. The effects of sales-activation approaches cause a short- term spike in purchasing intent, which drops off rapidly. Because of this, the two approaches are best used hand in hand, with the IPA’s 2017 Media in Focus report recommending a 60:40 split of brand building to activation as the optimum ratio.


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Topics: Being a better commissioner, Content Strategy, Coronavirus Content

The death of George Floyd

Posted by Nick Francis
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Casual Films has always been a place that supports the progression of equality, decency, and openness. It's important that we address the events happening in our cities in the US & UK.

What happened to George Floyd, and the countless Black lives before his, is wrong. Senselessly, maddeningly and utterly wrong. The system which presides over these injustices has to change. We can all play a role in this.

Casual stands in solidarity with the fight against racism and oppression in all its forms.

We don’t have the answers or the right words to say but we want to add our voice and not stay silent. We are encouraging our employees to take time off to volunteer and assist with positive and constructive action. We are keen to continue to produce work that benefits the cause of inclusivity, peace, and dignity for all human beings. Please get in touch with anything we can lend our filmmaking abilities to.

This page has great resources on how we can all get better informed, take action, and get involved. Click here to view.

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