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.
Find me on:

Recent Posts

The Better Video Power Hour with Vodafone's Catalina Schveninger

Posted by Nick Francis
Read More

Make your next video the best yet webinar

This might sounds a little obvious (not to mention cheesy) but we are pretty passionate about making really really great films at Casual Films. Nothing makes us happier than watching a fine filmic filly leave the Casual stable ready to hit the social media or intranet racetrack at a gallop. It makes us sad too when we see projects that don't go quite as well as they should and the production vet needs to get involved. I'll give that analogy a rest now - put it out to pasture if you like - (sorry).

Anyway, over the years we're made around 10,000 videos of all different sizes for every type of purpose and for every type of client. That has lead us to develop our very own exacting methodology for making videos that work. We've wanted to share this process for some time and we felt that the best format for this was through our own version of live TV - a webinar!

Webinar video_6
 

MAKE A DATE: 11th JULY 2019 - 17:00CET / 16:00BST / 11:00EDT / 08:00PDT

I (Nick) am going to be joined by Casual UK's Managing Director and production powerhouse Oliver Atkinson. Over the space of 50 short minutes we're going to share our step-by-step process for making better quality videos in less time and for less money.

Our Extra Special Guest

Catalina

We're extremely excited to announce Catalina Schveninger, Global Head of Learning at Vodafone as our special guest. Catalina is now responsible for the development of the company's global team of over 110,000 people - quite a remit - so we're extremely happy that she is making the time in her schedule to share her thoughts with us. 

Catalina was previously Global Head of Employer Brand at Vodafone having joined following time as HR Director of T Mobile in The Netherlands. She began her international HR career in 2002 as a member of the Human Resources Leadership Program at GE and held different roles, including the HR Director of GE’s Security EMEA division. 

A mother of 2, Catalina is a passionate advocate for the attraction and development of women in organisations and an avid learner of all things AI and neuroscience. These interests are reflected in a number of the projects that we have produced together including this one promoting belonging at Vodafone:

Vodafone - Belonging

Vodafone - Belonging

One of the reasons we're really pleased that Catalina is going to be able to join us is the fact that she will be able to give the commissioner's angle to the conversation. We are going to use a global employer branding project that we did with her as the backdrop for the learnings that we want to share. You can see one of these films here:

Vodafone - Digital Ninja (1)

Vodafone - "The Future is Exciting, Ready?" - Digital Ninjas employer brand

We will be holding a live Q&A at the end of the session so please come armed with anything that you want to ask. We will do our best to get to them. Also - please share the link with anyone else you think might find the session useful.

This is the webinar for you if...

  • You've commissioned video but you feel it's been too expensive, time consuming and ultimately ineffective in the past.
  • You want to understand the simple techniques that the world’s best communicators use to land their message with video.
  • You want to know how global telecoms company Vodafone uses video to land a global brand launch with their 110,000+ staff.
  • You want to understand where most people go wrong and how to avoid expensive, time consuming pitfalls.

 

We look forward to seeing you there.

Topics: Being a better commissioner, How-to, News, Content Strategy, Culture & Values

Five branded content examples to make you want to shakedown the CFO

Posted by Nick Francis
Read More

One of the most exciting developments in corporate/brand video production over the last ten years has been the growth in content which is very light touch on branding or marketing messages. As audiences have become more empowered to choose how they spend their time online brands have looked to align themselves with the types of content which their audiences go out of their way to find and watch.

This has led to some really cool, very watchable examples. Because we really love a list here we thought we’d pull together five of our favs to whet your appetites for the opportunities that are available. As Red Bull showed with their Stratos Jump even the sky isn’t the limit when it comes to this stuff…

Star Alliance – Connecting Cultures

WSJ STAR ALLIANCE TRAILER

Jobs don’t get much more desirable than being an actual travel journalist. Star Alliance and Wall St Journal tasked Robert Reid with going to six of the destinations serviced by their airlines around the world. The challenge was for him to have an adventure in each which went beyond the standard experience that visitors to those locations usually enjoy. Cue Muay Thai kick boxing in Bangkok, racing with huskies in Canada and performing live at the Native American Gathering of Nations. Beautifully shot, dynamic and brilliantly presented by Robert, these are a gem.

WSJ - StarAlliance USA

Robert Reid drums at the Gathering of Nations in New Mexico.

 

Allianz – #CarStories ‘Safari’

Allianz - Hamers Safari-1

How can branded content work for an insurance company? Well, armed with the insight that by providing car insurance, Allianz facilitate the huge amount of family life experience which is lived in the family car, we set about creating a series of videos for social which illustrated what that means. The short, honest portrayals were a massive hit and generated huge engagement on Facebook, where their short length made them easily consumable and sharable.

“The YouTube view completion rate was 85%!

Which was so high that the YouTube team got in touch with

us to find out how we did it.”

In order to be real the production team set up a fixed rig of cameras in each car and then let the families get on with it while the production was monitored from a car behind. The director was able to communicate with an ear piece in one of the adult’s ears to keep them on track.

 

Adobe – Jonathan Adler

Adobe - Jonathan Adler Teaser

Adobe have created a wide range of really lovely content for their Create channel – which is well worth checking out. We really like this video because Jonathan’s character comes across to clearly and amusingly. This goes to show that if you can find a great interviewee, the ‘talking head’ and b-roll format can be extremely effective.

Adobe - Sharm

We also recently delivered this film which features London graphic artist Sharm Murugiah. Again, thanks to Sharm's stunning work and some overlaid graphics, the film looks kind of delish.

 

Glenmorangie – Evolution of Craft

Glenmorangie - Evolution of Craft (1)

 

Prestige whisky brand Glenmorangie wanted to illustrate the craft that goes into making their Scotch. What better way of doing that than getting celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson to take a trip to the distillery and see the process for himself. His presentation and genuine passion for the product really shine through.

Upworthy – Acting Stereotypes

Upworthy - Acting Sterotypes

Sometimes branded content can be about something that really matters. This film for Upworthy excellently illustrates the challenges of racial stereotyping in one of its most blatant forms - the way non-white actors are asked to respond to casting and direction. A hard hitting point made powerfully and all the more effectively thanks to the tiny bit of humour added by the actors at the offensive bizarreness of the situation.


Whatever you're trying to create, getting the brief just right gets you off to the very best start. You can download our free guide to writing a really effective brief right here.

 

Topics: Increase brand awareness and appeal, Being a better commissioner, Purpose driven video, Content Strategy, Brands as broadcasters

Captive corporate audiences are a thing of the past. All is not lost though…

Posted by Nick Francis
Read More

Once upon a time, corporate communicators could produce materials which were either read out at departmental meetings, shared in company magazines, or played from VHS tapes to teams in smoke filled magnolia washed rooms. They sat there once a week or month to hear what the overlords from head office had deigned to share. They had no choice. They were effectively captive. This was not a golden age for communication quality.

Now your audience are rather more… dynamic. They can choose what to watch and when to watch it. For good or ill, you have the power to reach them almost 24 hours a day and yet engaging them can be as hard as ever.

Attention is the new currency

Applications designed to capture and sell our attention have turned our time into a commodity. This means that everyone is now fighting for it. Their Instagram or Facebook feed, their families and friends, billon dollar box sets and your piece of comms. It’s noisy out there. You need to cut through that noise to be noticed. Why is this so challenging?

This has made the quality of content skyrocket 

The technological revolution which has put the power of television studios and distribution networks in our hands, has pushed the bar up drastically on what constitutes quality. From Netflix to HBO, and Amazon Prime to network on demand, broadband Internet has substantially increased the amount of excellent content available. From live sports coverage to stunning wildlife documentaries, new technology is enabling a level of access and production values that were pretty much unimaginable just a few years ago. We’re living through the golden age of glossy TV.

What does this mean?

This means that whomever your audience are – external or internal – they are judging the content you share against the most sophisticated systems to capture human attention that have ever existed. I know that seems pretty tough – and it really is – but there are ways that you can still reach them… 

Most important: deliver genuine value

The number one thing that you need to do to cut through to your audience is to deliver them value. For more information on what I mean by this check out this blog here. As Seth Godin says, you should create content which your audience would miss and seek out if it wasn’t there. A simple way to think about this is through the mnemonic TRUE – Timely, Relevant, Useful, Entertaining. Lead with the value with the material you share – make it easy for them to consume. 

Be consistent

Whether you are sharing material internally or externally, it’s important that you are consistent with the material that you share. Once you’re sharing work which is of value to the audience, they will begin to look forward to each iteration. Meet them half way by sharing to a schedule.

Think creatively

Are there other ways that you can cut though? Of course –  you just need to get a little creative. There are a number of ways that you can do this. One is by using new technology.  There is now 360° video/virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and interactive video. They represent new and ever-improving ways of providing immersive stories to the audience. They are a goldmine for corporate communicators who are willing to push them and use them with a little creative flair. They provide an opportunity for a different type of immersion in your brand narrative from what was possible before – enhancing and enriching the stories that you choose to tell around your brand. 

Don’t forget about emotion

Video’s ability to communicate emotion is the most powerful asset in the communicators bag of tricks. This means that whatever you are trying to communicate, you should look for to include a human angle to help it to land with the audience. That might mean using animated characters, finding the stories of individuals that illustrate the experience of the many, or just getting a member of your team on the screen to explain the point. This will help the audience to make sense of it and remember it.

We hope these help. Whatever you’re trying to achieve, for whatever audience you’re trying to reach, our highly experienced producers are ready to help you get there. Fill in the form on this page and one of our producers will give you a call back to discuss your project.

Topics: Train and develop staff, Production process, Being a better commissioner, How-to, Content Strategy, Brands as broadcasters

Five ways to land complex concepts with video

Posted by Nick Francis
Read More

Lots of the content that we share in this blog focuses on what the Red Bulls of this world are doing to communicate with their audiences. We share these because the more extreme examples help us to illustrate the underlying principles more clearly. The fact is though that most of the videos that we produce don’t have people jumping out of space balloons, or helicopters or stunts of most kinds. Most of our work is a little... slower paced. That in no way means that it needs to be boring though. There are some really great ways to make even the driest subject matter engaging and interesting. It does help to follow a few key principles though...

1. Keep it Simple

OK - this is a strange way to start a blog about making videos about complex content but do bear with us. The point is you need to condense your information down to the key point you are trying to make - as much as feasible. Do not overload the video with too much content. Think about what you want the audience to think, feel or do as a result of watching and then focus on achieving that one thing. Clarity is essential. It is almost impossible to make a film which is too simple in what it is trying to achieve.

RBI - The Jobtopus (2)

Focus on the elements of the brief you most need to relay to create videos which land the message.

Take this film for RBI Recruitment. They wanted to illustrate the fact that they have eight recruitment titles in their stable. What else is famous for having eight 'bits'? Quite. This animation cuts away everything else they could have included and focuses on the one this that RBI were trying to get across. As a result, it lands the message effectively.  

2. Think about actual people in the target audience group

When making videos about complicated ideas particularly there is a tendency to make them even more complicated by trying talking to the audience as a block rather than a collection of individuals. This can lead to weird phrasing and a quite impersonal feel. The best videos are the ones that speak directly to each audience member. A great way to do this is to think about two or three members of different parts of the target audience when creating your script and film. Do test it by thinking about other members. If you don't know any, it's usually worth doing a little bit of leg work to find them. 

3. Use experts who know and love the material

'Talking head' or interview led films are an excellent, cost effective way to get your message across, particularly if the interviewee has an in-depth understanding and can relate it clearly and with energy, as the fund manager does in the above film for Glint.

Glint - Testimonials 04

A knowledgeable expert can explain ideas clearly and interestingly

4. Use animation and visual metaphor

Animation is a brilliant way of communicating more complicated ideas. This is because it allows you to show and tell the concepts you are explaining at the same time. Normally, you should never explain what you can show - but - using metaphor to underline the principles of the voice over helps to demonstrate the ideas without feeling overly obvious. This makes the information far more tangible and memorable. You can see this at work in this animation for the EIB.

 

EIB - Camena (1)

Visual metaphor is a great way of underlining the key ideas in your animation

5. Don't forget emotion

Content that focuses on creating an emotional response in the audience beats the purely rational in effectiveness tests every time. No matter the subject, it is important that you include a bit of character as this engages a different part of the brain and helps the information to stick. This means the audience are more likely to remember and act on your message. As a quirk of the way our brains work we automatically attribute agency to the objects we see moving. This can be used to great effect to build engagement with the audience. Look at how the character of the ball bearing in this film helps to draw you into the message. 

PwC - IFRS Rube Goldberg

Rube Goldberg machines are satisfying to watch. Here it demonstrates the interconnectedness of the subject matter in a nifty visual metaphor.

But...

Sometimes video works best promoting other media

This might sound slightly contrary to the whole point of this blog, but there may well be some occasions when video is not the right route to take. 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’ll 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.


Whatever you're sharing videos about online it helps to make sure that they're the right length to maximise engagement and action. To help you do that - no matter the platform - we created a whitepaper. You can download it right here.

 

Topics: Explain or promote products and services, Production process, Being a better commissioner, Content Strategy

5 ways to get the most from existing assets / video content

Posted by Nick Francis
Read More
Existing Assets

 

How do you make the most of video content assets that you already have? Most businesses will now have a large amount of past material that they want to reuse or repurpose. This could be footage from past brand or corporate videos, TV commercials, internal films, promotional stills or even music. It takes time, money and thought to create content that is worth sharing in the first place so it makes sense to want to get the most from it. If the content is for social, having more helps you to get noticed and to stay front of mind for your audience. A bit of extra mileage can make a big difference. So what are some of the ways to find it?

1. Tell the Producer

The earlier in the process the production team know that you want to create as much content as possible, the better. This allows them to look for ways to maximise the final outputs throughout. Share the all the content that you have so that they can see how to best incorporate them. Don't worry about whether you think it's right or not - they will know what they are looking for and will be able to help you.

2. Speak to the Editor

No-one knows the footage as well the the person who has just spent hours pawing over it. Sometimes the production team might have shot hours of footage to create a single 60 second output. This is a very rich hunting ground for additional content. If you want to know what's there, speak the editor. They will be able to let you know what you did or didn't get. Quite often what you think you got and actually got can be quite different things, so it's always a useful conversation to have. Don't worry if you don't get a chance though - this is the kind of thing that your producer does on your behalf.

3. Transcribe your Interviews

It can be a little blinding to look at four hours of interview recordings. One way of making this a lot easier is to get it transcribed. This allows you to do a search for words or phrases - significantly reducing the time needed to scoot through. It can also make it easier for you to understand the content that's there. There are some really excellent websites which do this automatically. The output is not perfect but it's certainly good enough to be getting on with. We use and recommend Trint.

4. Think Cross-Platform

Sometimes a piece of content may have run it's course on specific platform might by ripe for another. For example short reedits which wouldn't work for your company website can be really effective when used with some overlaid graphics on Instagram or Facebook. You may be able to grab still images from videos and share them as Instagram Stories with some supporting copy.

5. No Piece of Content is Ever 'Spent'

Finally, try not to think of content as being 'spent'.  There are always ways to get a little more mileage out of the material that you have. Try to look with fresh eyes. It can be as simple as going back over an old project with a different frame of reference and seeing clips or soundbites in there that make sense in a whole different way. 

Reused assets can lead to really powerful results, particularly when included from an early stage...

BMW - Careers (1)

BMW Careers

This film for BMW Careers is a perfect example of using pre-existing content from the business’ library. Naturally they had a large amount of really lovely footage from the promotional material produced for the main brand. This was combined with graphics, some library, some UGC – also from BMW – sound design and a specifically composed music track. The addition of the track really pulls the production together – making it more than just a collection of disparate material. This is a clear example of how making the producer aware of the stipulations at the outset of the project allowed the creatives and the production team to incorporate the different assets seamlessly.


Whatever you are trying to achieve with your video content, it helps to have people who know what they're talking about on your side. Our team of producers, strategists, creatives, editors, animators and filmmakers have made literally thousands of films for people just like you. They would be happy to discuss your ideas, requirements and the potential that video holds for you. Book a no strings call back from one of our filmmaking team, right here.

Topics: Production process, Repurposed content, How-to, Content Strategy

What's it like filming in a rainforest in London?

Posted by Nick Francis
Read More

We’ve recently delivered a series of films for London Zoo on Behalf of Evening Standard Independent Group. It’s been a real labour of love for the crew, particularly Olly Atkinson, who has always had a bit of a soft spot for our furry friends. In his rich and varied careers before Casual he produced none other than the Secret Life of Hedgehogs. David Attenborough watch your back.

To find out a bit more about the process of shooting in the zoo we caught up with Olly to ask him about some of the challenges of shooting in a synthesised rainforest. Misty camera lenses and plastic cased GoPros watch out – the climbing anteater is about…

London Zoo Olly Interview

Casual's London MD, Olly Atkinson, who produced the films explains some of surprising challenges of shooting in a zoo! Keep watching to see the film at the end


Whatever you want to make a video about or expert global team are on hand to help. Fill in your details and thoughts on the form on this page and one of them will get back in touch very shortly. We've produced work from the Canadian Arctic to the Iraqi Desert (and a fair few conference rooms in between), so our staff understand your challenges and how to translate them into effective video content efficiently, whether your films subjects are going to try to break open and eat the camera, or not.

You can find the book a call back form here.

 

Topics: Increase brand awareness and appeal, Production process, How-to, About Casual

How to make your content last longer

Posted by Nick Francis
Read More

 

How to make content last-2

 

It's a really common question - it takes time, headspace and money to create content that is worth sharing. So we thought we would share a couple of thoughts on how you can maximise your content's mileage...

1. Shoot Plenty

Whatever you are producing the more material you can shoot the more options you are giving yourself for the future. You may choose to use that extra material to create social cuts now or to hold them back to refresh the content with a reedit in the future.

2. Tell the Production Team

It helps if the people making the videos know that you want them to last as long as possible. This will allow them to work this into the creative/production.

3. Use Animation

It's great - reflecting brand and looking professional and is infinitely changeable - we have an animation from 2009 that we are still making reedits to for a client. Oh yeah - and the characters don't usually resign.

4. Does it Really Matter?

Usually, you get bored of your content before your audience do. They may be coming to it fresh.

5. Deliver Lasting Value

Just like Steve McQueen, really great ideas, information and entertainment don't go out of fashion.


What's the best length to guarantee engagement online? Well, one way to find out is by downloading our What's the Right Length for Video Online? Whitepaper.

Which is good because it's right here:

Download Casual's Right Length for Video Online Whitepaper

Topics: Production process, Being a better commissioner, How-to, Content Strategy

How we defined our values & built the culture at Casual

Posted by Nick Francis
Read More

One of the most valuable things we ever did at Casual was define our values. This helped us to understand exactly who to employ and promote, and who was not quite right and might do better elsewhere. It is amazing how many business problems stem from people problems. Get the values right and so many things take care of themselves - particularly for a services business.

Culture and Values at Casual

 

How did we do that?

1. With management write down the attributes that make each of your 5-star/top performers great.

2. Which of these are shared?

3. Condense these to around 5 main ones which don't overlap too much.

4. Assess all staff against these values. Do they exhibit them: most of the time? Some of the time? None of the time?

5. Have a conversation with each staff member discussing the values and their grading. Be honest.

6. Help them to understand what they need to do to exhibit the values most of the time.

7. This gives you a clear framework to help challenging employees to succeed. Give them time to come back with examples.

8. If they can't get there, be prepared to say that this is not the right place for them - the ones who do fit will flourish.

9. Follow through. Recruit, incentivise and promote those who exhibit the values.

10. Over time this should build a strong and thriving culture.


CASUAL FILMS VALUES
 
What attributes make our Casual Filmers great?
 
Passionate about making our clients happy
There are lots of ways you could choose to have your project produced. We’re extremely grateful that our clients choose us. In gratitude, we employ people who are naturally passionate about delivering and delighting those who made that choice.
 
Can-do and proactive
Filmmaking is about continual problem solving. We require our staff to think on their feet and act on initiative. Our team are solution focused, taking much of the weight off you, our clients. 
 
Team spirited and accountable
 We work closely together so that you get the benefit of the experience and skill of our whole crew. We hire and promote people who show the personal leadership required to happily take accountability for their actions.
 
Doing more with less
We produce work which our clients believe is tangibly more effective. To do this, every penny invested needs to show in the final product. We are only able to do this by employing staff who think creatively and with thrift.
 
Open and positive
Video production is not the most important job in the world, but it might be one of the best. The process of working with Casual should be enjoyable for everyone involved. Having a positive mindset, even at a 4am call time, is central to this.

You can read more about the Casual Films team here: Great People.
 
If you want to speak to a 'Great' Casual person, click here to book a call:
 
New call-to-action

Topics: About Casual, Culture & Values

What is Big Rock Content?

Posted by Nick Francis
Read More
“What you’re really seeking is to be trusted, to be heard, to be talked about, and to matter. And if we look at any brand that’s succeeded, that is what they have done.”
- Jason Miller, Content and Social Marketing Leader, LinkedIn

The term ‘Big Rock’ content was initially coined by Jason Miller, LinkedIn’s Head of Content. He describes it as a piece of content so substantial it allows the brand sharing it to ‘own the conversation’. This is the ultimate extension of Google’s hero content. Red Bull’s ‘Stratos Jump’ is a perfect example of this; it’s so audacious and the brand’s ownership is so complete that it excludes anyone else from getting involved.

 

However, this is maybe pushing the realms of possibility for 99.99% of brands. Nike’s ‘Breaking 2’ was one of the standout pieces of content in 2017, where the brand got together three of the fastest marathon runners in an attempt to break the 2-hour barrier. The attempt created a large amount of support - atomised - content, and earned large amounts of online coverage.

Talks at GS Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell on Talks at GS

A slightly more accessible example of this is Goldman Sachs Talks at GS series. These productions – reminiscent of TED talks in their approach and quality – feature presidents, actors, and business and charity founders, who are some of the most interesting thinkers and personalities of our time. The interviews are up to 20 to 30 minutes in length, which means that there is loads of content that can be repurposed into shorter outputs to be shared elsewhere. The channel sets the bank up as a powerhouse for global business and financial success, and has earned over 30 million views on YouTube so far.

Whatever you decide to make your ‘Big Rock’, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

Make it really big and really desirable. It needs to be audacious and eye-catching enough for your audience to share their personal details with you to get involved. This may just be an email address, but it could be so significant that they will actually pay for it. Whatever the goal – make it big.

Consider two points: What conversation do you want to own? What is the number-one question on your audience’s minds? Where do these two questions intersect? They may well not, in which case you need to think about how you can transpose the two without compromising too much. This is where you should place your ‘Big Rock’.

Once you’ve made the investment in your ‘Big Rock’, you can repurpose parts of the output again and again - 'atomising' it if you like. You can use these smaller pieces of content to drive engagement with the central story. This can, in turn, massively increase your return on the original investment.


Whether you want some guidance on what your 'Big Rock' might be, or if you just want to make sure you're sharing the right kind of content in the first place, a free consultation call is a great place to start. Click here to book a call back with one of our content experts and learn just how much more your content could be doing for you.

 

Topics: Increase brand awareness and appeal, Being a better commissioner, Content Strategy, Brands as broadcasters

Learning from Nike : How context supercharges content effectiveness

Posted by Nick Francis
Read More

Timing, they say, is everything.

Your audience are faced by a deluge of content every time they browse their social channels. Which is why it is getting harder and harder to cut through to them. Like random banner ads before them, so much content is subconsciously filtered out before they even notice it. The only way to get around it is by creating work that your audience are predisposed to engage with at the moment they see it. This is why the context in which it is viewed is essential in landing your content with them.

Subconscious Filtering?

This filtering of information is essential to allow us to focus on what is important and to stop us from going crazy from monitoring the huge number of stimuli that our bodies sense at any given moment. From thousands our brains limit us to being aware of only around 40. To do this, our RAS or Reticular Activating System (the brain’s CPU) instantaneously filters out anything which our subconscious judges to be extraneous information. This part of the brain learns very quickly what to look out for – it is why when you are looking at buying a red Volkswagen you suddenly see red Volkswagens everywhere. It, of course, also works for the things that we have learned to ignore.

1280-reticular-activating-systemThis is why we can see a hundred different ads while scrolling or browsing and never really notice them, but then one pops up with just the right thing at just the right time and boom, we click-through and buy. This is the essence of context. This is the importance of timing, which is why programmatic retargeting has been so successful (the process that continues to advertise products to you after you have visited a certain webpage). It’s why Google has grown to be, well, Google.

Get the timing right and an ad which cost you pennies to place can become the most valuable piece of advertising you do that day.

Nike put Tiger Wood's Masters win in context

Last weekend you may have noticed that Tiger Woods staged one of the most impressive career come backs in the history of golf, if not sport. He was once the global megastar of the sport, winning 14 major titles and being accused of ruining the game by making the rest of the world's best compete for second place. His implacable, uncompromisingly focused facade hid some challenging truths which came home to roost in dramatic fashion. He fell from grace, he lost his game and dropped out of the World's Top 1000. Most people wrote him off. Last weekend, he came back back and won his 5th US Masters - one, if not the, of the hardest fought tournaments in the sport - at the age of 43, the second oldest winner ever. It was a stunning moment in a story that has captivated the world of sport for nearly over 20 years.

Nike's Same Dream Spot - shared in the moments after Wood's win

Behind the scenes on Sunday, there was another level of genius/fortunate planning at work. In the moments after Woods donned the cherished green jacket of the Masters winner Nike shared an ad on their social channels which nailed the feeling of the moment. A relatively inexpensive edit which allowed them to capitalise on the estimated $22.5M worth of publicity that the brand received while Woods completed his final round. Sunday was the most watched round of golf in history. As far as content goes the edit was pretty basic – a few recuts of old footage of Tiger playing with some inspirational interview audio from his early life. For a brand like Nike the production of a piece of content like this is almost as basic it gets – it was after all a punt on their man actually winning– but it paid off in spades. 

Oreo - You can still dunk in the dark Super BowlOreo shared this image on Twitter when the lights famously went out during the 2013 Super Bowl

Like the Oreo – “you can still dunk in the dark” tweet – it smashed any goal the brand might have set because it was timed to utter perfection. It was amusing and impressive that they were ready with someone who knew what they were doing to be able to create and share it. But it was the timing that really nailed it. That was why it was retweeted 10,000 times in the first hour and was regarded by many as the prestigious 'ad of the night', beating out competition from spots which cost literally one million times more.

How to think about Context

Given the depth of data now available about your audience online, traditional demographic data – the meat and gravy of traditional (pre-digital) audience targeting is fairly lacking. This is because you ultimately want to target anyone who might buy your product or be the right fit for your job - it doesn’t matter where they live or how old they are. A more effective way of thinking about audience targeting is through Behaviours, Emotions and Moments or BEMs:

Behaviours:
Have consumers demonstrated (or exhibited proxy behaviour) that indicates interest in a specific or related product area? Have they actively sought out or mentioned a particular product or service? 
Emotions:
Has a particular product or service suddenly become more relevant to them? Are they posting emotional responses that suggest they would be receptive to certain brand messages? Ice cream can be great for lifting the spirits, a new job for those dissatisfied with work, a glass of champagne for someone feeling elated.
Moments:
What event might trigger a desire to buy or interact? Possibly changes in weather, transport strikes or sports events? Has the consumer entered a specific location which might make them more susceptible to your message - there is always a surge in job searching and relationship breakups around and immediately after Christmas.

Thousands of golfers will have been thinking: "I wonder what putters there are on the market at the minute?" Bang. That was the moment the video hit. That is the essence of context.

The reason this timing is so essential is that it allows the marketer to take advantage of the specific triggers that will lead your audience to engage in any given moment. How many people reached for an Oreo while watching the Super Bowl after seeing that tweet and in all the press it got afterward? More to the point, the Nike video was perfectly timed because it was shared at the moment that the audience are at their most inspired. Thousands of golfers will have been thinking about dusting off the clubs and maybe replacing their putter before playing a round. "I wonder what putters there are on the market at the minute?" Bang. That was the moment the video hit. Building on the positivity and oozy feelgood-ness of the moment and tying the brand into his glory. Making sure it was front of mind for anyone thinking of getting back out there and 'spoiling a good walk' - as Oscar Wilde would have said.

How can you find out about the BEMs of your audience?

The best way to work out the BEMs that work most effectively for your target audience is through testing and measuring. Make some sensible assumptions and then try them out. How can you use the information that you know about your audience to create content that will hit them while they're doing just the right thing, at just the right time, in just the right mood to engage? Test, measure, reiterate and improve.


Wherever or whenever you are targeting your audience, according to Google/YouTube the key to effective content campaigns is really great content. Download our free ten step guide to making sure the material you share is as good as it can be right here:

DOWNLOAD COMMANDMENTS

Topics: Attract and retain the best candidates, Explain or promote products and services, Increase brand awareness and appeal, Boost sales and encourage donations, Being a better commissioner, Content Strategy

POPULAR POSTS

BMW Careers

Casual Films of 2018

Oxfam Awesome Brand Videos

Five Awesome Brand Films to Get You...

Recent Posts

Bloomberg Citrix Blast Off

The Better Video Power Hour with...

Gathering of Nations Branded Content

Five branded content examples to make...