Case study: Red Bull Changemakers

Posted by Oliver Atkinson
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If you think of Red Bull TV what immediately springs to mind is a heart-stopping air race, gritty dirt biking or someone in Speedos performing a triple pike off a cliff and promptly plummeting towards the water 500 meters below. They do sport, they do it extreme and they do it well. So, when they approached us with a brief for a mini-series about social innovation it piqued our interest, to say the least… 

Amaphiko - Inspired by the Zulu word for ‘wings’ - is a programme to help Social Entrepreneurs create innovative and sustainable change in their communities and Red Bull wanted to create a series of short, global films featuring some of the people who have made changes for the good within their community.

After nearly a year of wrangling contributors, shifting schedules and of course, lugging equipment across continents we are pleased to announce that our mini-series have recently been broadcast.


Each film captures unique stories from six 'Changemakers' from around the world and how they turned ideas into projects that have changed the lives of people in their communities and beyond.

Check them out on the Red Bull site here.

 

Ep. 1 - Steel Warriors

Ben Wintour created Steel Warriors to counter the rising culture of knife violence on the streets of London by melting them to build outdoor gyms to offer youth a healthy community.


 

Ep 2 – Beats, Rhymes & Life

In Oakland, California, Rob Jackson is using the power of hip-hop to encourage young people of colour to engage in therapy. It's a second home for teens in the area who are vulnerable to mental health problems.


 

Ep 3 – SheFighter

Lina Khalifeh started SheFighter, the first self-defence studio for women in the Middle East, to help bring an end to the problem of abuse against women. Since its founding, the organisation has expanded to 35 different countries.


Ep 4 – Africa Yoga Project

Paige Elenson created the Africa Yoga Project in Nairobi to provide leadership opportunities for young people in struggling communities by making the practice of yoga more accessible.


Ep 5 – B360 Baltimore

Brittany Young started B-360 Baltimore to change negative perceptions of dirt bike culture in her community by teaching STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) that will help them secure meaningful career opportunities.


Ep 6 – Refettorio Felix

Massimo Bottura opened the community center Refettorio Felix in London to provide free therapeutic services and three meals a day to people struggling with poverty, hardship, sickness, and distress.


Is your company making great stories happen? If you want to share them in the best way possible you should get in touch with one of our team. Our experienced producers who will be happy to bring them to life with you. Make a no obligation enquiry by email or right here.

 

Topics: Increase brand awareness and appeal, Purpose driven video, Brands as broadcasters, Case Study

Webinar: Bringing your employer brand to life

Posted by Nick Francis
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For the second of our Better Video Power Hour discussions Nick was joined by GE Healthcare's Global Employer Brand Lead, Daniel Perkins to talk employer brand, recruitment marketing, video and more.

Dan has 15+ years experience working in the industry, including leading the global employer brand team at Rolls-Royce. Having started out in account management, he has a keen eye for detail in the creative process and was able to share lots of insights on how to get great work made. 

Rolls Royce - Jimmy C - Stylised

Rolls-Royce: Jimmy C paints Charles and Henry

Dan explained the sign-off process for a campaign based on a graffiti painting of the company founders. By any yardstick, this was a fairly creative way of promoting the 100 year old brand.

Dan had seen Jimmy C's work (most famous for his mural of David Bowie in Brixton, South London) and felt that it would make an eye-catching centrepiece to promote the addition of Art to the traditional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) framework.

Dan made his own simple promo film (we could have helped you with that, Dan) and took it to the CEO - who he was able to enthuse enough to get it signed off. Sometimes, it helps to take an unconventional approach to get the work you really want to make made.

We also covered:

  • What is an employer brand and why is it important?
  • How to get creative ideas made within a large corporate?
  • Why use video?
  • How to get your videos seen?
  • Why is Inclusion and Diversity so important?
  • the most important lesson Dan has learnt?
  • Who is doing it really well?

If you missed it, don't worry you can watch the recording right here. Keep an eye out for the next webinar on October 19th! Details to follow.

Watch the replay here:

GE Healthcare Employer Brand to Life 3 shotClick on the above image to watch the replay


If you have a project that you would like to discuss, please drop us a note, an email or a call. Our experienced producers are ready help make your next project the best ever.

If you are keen to kick your project off on the right foot the best thing to do is to get your brief exactly right. You can download our guide to doing that right here.

 

Topics: Attract and retain the best candidates, Being a better commissioner, How-to, Purpose driven video, Content Strategy

Promoting diversity and inclusion with video? You should read this...

Posted by Nick Francis
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Homogeneity is never a great thing - unless you’re a pint of milk – in which case you’ve probably got other things to worry about other than this blog post. Diversity brings strength; differing viewpoints, ideas and experiences. Being different but all the same is one of the things that makes the world the place that it is. Variety is the spice of life, as they say.

We get to produce films for all sorts of different reasons at Casual. Some of the ones that we’re most proud of are the ones which help to increase tolerance and understanding, making life tangibly better for those who don't fit the stereotype of normality – whatever that is. Fair enough, some of the greatest crimes against music have been committed in the name of diversity. “Ebony and Ivory”, while noble in aim, is so terrible that Sir Paul deserves to have his plaudits from the Beatles expunged from the ledger. Stevie Wonder frankly should have known better too.

Anyway… we’ve pulled together some of our favourite Diversity and Inclusion projects to inspire you to get started:

Rolls-Royce - live action/animated profiles

Rolls Royce - I&D Kaz (1)

Celebrating our People - Kaz's Story

This series of films celebrate all the different people and backgrounds that comprise the staff at Rolls-Royce. They're relatively simple treatments, with animation and additional footage adding colour and depth, but that doesn't stop them from being really effective. They're a great example of how video can be used to bring intangible concepts like diversity and tolerance to life.

This project was initially kicked off by Global Employer Brand Manager, Dan Perkins. If you want to learn more about diversity, inclusion, internal engagement and employer brand at Rolls-Royce, check out Nick's conversation with him here.

Rolls Royce - I&D Shaid (1)

Celebrating our People - Shaid's Story

 


Action Sustainability - live action humour

Action_Sustainability_Language (1)

Language!

Films with worthy aims don’t have to be worthy in nature. Sometimes a little humour doesn’t go amiss, as with these films, highlighting bullying and wellbeing on construction sites. They were shown at the beginning of a discussion amongst employees. They're a good example of creative designed to engage and educate a very specific audience.

Action Sustainability - Well-Being (1)

Well-Being


Standard Bank - animation

Standard Bank - Conflicts of Interest

Conflicts of Interest

OK, so this animation was technically produced to help employees to understand potential Conflicts of Interest at Standard Bank. This one focuses on an important part of inclusivity - namely, treat your colleagues as you would like them to treat you. It shows how damaging simple thoughtlessness can be and encourages viewers to think a little more about how their actions affect others. The animation is kind of great too.


Vodafone - set piece discussion/visual metaphor set-up

Vodafone - LGBT+ Empowered

LGBT+ Empowered

Vodafone has set the goal of being the number one employer for women and LGBTQ+ in the markets in which they operate. Over the years, we have made a number of D&I films with them, most of which we've shared in this blog. For this film we asked Vodafone employees to discuss some of the challenges around being a LGBTQ+ person in the workplace. The production is relatively simple, with a selection of interviewees talking around a table. We pulled out a number of key facts to help underline the points being made.

Vodafone - Equal in Work

Equal in Work

This film is part of the same campaign. The treatment does a good job of making the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace really tangible. There is also the neat visual metaphorical pun of the burden they shoulder.

To learn more about Vodafone, you can listen to Olly and Nick's conversation with Global head of Learning, Catalina Schveninger here.


 

Whatever you're trying to achieve with your video project, the most important step you take is the first one. Get off on the right foot with our no nonsense guide to writing a really effective brief. You can download it here.

If you would like to discuss a project with one of our team of experienced producers - no salespeople - please drop us a line here. We look forward to helping you make your next project the best yet.

 

Topics: Attract and retain the best candidates, Train and develop staff, Increase brand awareness and appeal, Being a better commissioner, Purpose driven video

The value of purpose in recruitment and engagement video

Posted by Nick Francis
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In our blog on Building Trust in the Era of Fake News, we discussed the value of purpose in all of your communications. Here we take a moment to look at why purpose is important, particularly for recruitment and internal engagement.

Vodafone - Equal in Work

Vodafone: Equal in Work

Your business' purpose or 'why' is an extremely useful resource when looking for content to broadcast or campaigns to run. This doesn’t mean that all the content you create should suddenly be about charitable causes or that it should be about ‘do-gooding’. It also doesn’t mean that all your content needs to be about your corporate purpose. It means that all the content that you create should have a tangential relevance to your ‘Why?’ as a business. This will provide an underlying coherence to your content at the same time as reinforcing your brand identity. It is a step towards your purpose being about actions, rather than just words.

While purpose is extremely valuable to corporate communicators, it must be ingrained in your way of doing business. It is not enough to simply talk about it: it must become part of your DNA. Your customers and employees will thank you for it, as will your shareholders in due course, so everyone ends up happy.

Purpose and the Zuckerberg generation

Purpose has become particularly important, given the evolutions in employment patterns in the current century. Speak to most employers, and they will complain that today’s youthful workforce has become less loyal and more flighty, but the facts don’t entirely bear this out. According to LinkedIn, millennials – those born between 1982 and 2000 (and among the 500 million who use the platform) – change job four times on average in their first ten years in the workplace. There is disagreement over whether this represents a significant departure from previous generations. A US Bureau of Labor Statistics study of the baby-boomer generation found that they had held an average of 11.7 jobs between the ages of 18 and 48. This is certainly more than the baby boomers’ grandparents would have had at the turn of the 20th century.

What has happened, without question, is a shift in what the workforce want from a job. Millennials have seen their contemporaries overturn convention and earn billions as the creators of global technology brands. From Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber to Malala Yousafzai, they have seen how a compelling story can pluck anyone from obscurity and plaster them across the global stage. They mainline videos that show them what is happening in the world – their world – and how they can and must play a role in shaping it. ‘Shape the world’ is what they plan to do.

Young people naturally find it easier to pick up new things (which is just as well). This has meant that they have been disproportionately empowered by the Technological Revolution. This is upending traditional power structures. They know they have this power, and want to know what the brands they interact with – as their suppliers, employers and broadcasters – will do for them. Young people no longer live to work, they work to live. Work is something that the modern employee does as a part of their life. They expect to live the life of their choosing, which means that all employment is viewed through a ‘What’s in it for me?’ prism. Each job has to be a stepping stone or stamp to their career passport, enhancing their skills and experience to enable the next leap onwards.

Millennials have never known a world not negatively affected by human impact. Climate change, the ‘plastification’ of the oceans, mass extinction and social inequality all play on their minds. They want the businesses that they have a relationship with to be part of the solution to these problems. This explains why business purpose is so specifically important to them, particularly when choosing an employer.

They believe that business can be a genuine force for good in the world. Of the 7,900 young people surveyed as part of the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2017, 76% view ‘business’ positively and believe that it has a positive influence on society. This rose to 89% among those considered ‘hyperconnected millennials’; i.e. those identified as being highly digitally connected compared to the average in their own countries.

"Nine out of ten of the most influential millennials believe that business has

a positive influence on society."

As the guardians of business, you should seize this opportunity and build on it.

Why should this matter to you?

This matters because the millennials are becoming the most powerful generation in history. They are the largest generation (92 million in the US), surpassing the baby boomers (77 million US), and are entering the workplace and their prime earning/spending years. By 2025 they will make up 75% of the global workforce. They already control US$2.7 trillion in annual expenditure. In the West, over time, they will inherit the wealth of their baby-boomer parents, much of which has been protected and built by final-salary pensions and significant real-estate-asset inflation. They are the future of business and our planet.

Young people want purpose, belonging and ownership of the brands they interact with – your brand. They want to take part. They have grown up surrounded by social media and technology in the post- 9/11 world. Having a purpose to work towards makes them more-engaged employees, more-loyal customers and more-active advocates for your brand. They want you to be part of the solution, and they want you to be the enabler.

For employees, the ability to take part in charitable causes at work leads to an increase in loyalty. Deloittes’ aforementioned survey found that of the 54% of millennials who were provided with the opportunity to contribute to good causes or charities, 35% stayed in their job for 5 years or more (vs 24% without the opportunity). They were also more positive about the role of business in the world and optimistic about the social situation generally.

It’s not just employee engagement that makes this a good area for your business to get involved in. There’s also the direct-profit motive. Around 89% of millennial consumers have said there is a strong likelihood they would buy from companies that support solutions to particular social issues, and 91% said that this fact would increase their trust in the business. This would explain why market-research firm Nielsen identified that, in the financial year 2015, sales of consumer goods from brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability grew more than 4% globally, while those without grew less than 1%.

 

Vodafone - Belonging

 

 Vodafone: Belonging

How can this work for you?

As we saw in the Building Trust blog, it is essential that you don't just talk the talk. It is essential that you walk the walk. Take the work that Vodafone have been doing on promoting themselves as the number one employer for women and LGBT+ people. First they have to take the steps in that direction and then tell the world about it - in that order. Of course there will always be a degree the marketing driving the reality, but tangible steps towards the new reality have to come first. The great thing about this type of film is that it makes for really powerful, engaging outputs. Ideal for recruitment and staff engagement.


Whatever you're making videos about it's essential to make them the right length to get your message across. We've pulled together everything you need to know, platform by platform, to help you with that.

Check it out here.

Topics: Attract and retain the best candidates, Being a better commissioner, How-to, Purpose driven video

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

Posted by Nick Francis
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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

A chat about The New Fire - Harness the Power of Video for your Business

Posted by Nick Francis
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Co-founder Nick seems to be in a marginally better mood recently, probably because he has finally finished his book: The New Fire - Harness the Power of Video for Your Business. Here we ask him a few questions to give you an idea of what to expect.

If you would like to purchase a copy, please follow this link. Firstly, they're almost certain to sell out (Bezos is rubbing his hands together in anticipation of the launch already). Secondly, as an early registerer you might win a free copy! So, what are you waiting for! 

Anyway...

Why is the book called The New Fire?

Video is the New Fire for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, fire and storytelling have always been closely linked. Using fire enabled us to get the nutrition required from our food to grow our brains, enabling us to have thoughts that focused beyond the immediate – why are sabre-toothed tigers so… bitey?’, rather than simply ‘that sabre-toothed tiger is going to eat me, I need to run away now.’. It also lengthened the day, which gave us the time to use our newly enhanced brains to think abstractly and construct abstract narratives - to tell stories. This is why storytelling is such an effective means of communication. Our brains literally evolved to make sense of information through them.

 

saber-tooth-catSabre-toothed tiger - rather 'bitey'


Secondly, I’ve always liked the metaphor of video as fire. They exhibit many similar qualities. Used effectively, it can be sustaining, providing energy and power for your cause. It can ‘light a fire’ in your audience’s hearts and minds. Get it wrong and it can burn, damage and potentially kill you. In the online space, video spreads rapidly, enlightening or burning as it goes. Often with world changing ferocity. A fire of its time – the shocking LAPD/Rodney King case in the early ‘90s captured global attention because it was recorded for all to see. Now cameras are everywhere and distribution is immediate we all have that capability to create fire in our hands right now. Video has moved from being in the hands of the few, the privileged, who used it to broadcast their message, to being in the hands of the many – more or less everyone – who can use it to narrowcast to the few. This has huge ramifications for all of us, particularly business communicators.

This is why the Technological Revolution has allowed video to fully come of age. After 400 millennia fire was only harnessed with the Industrial Revolution and the invention of the steam and internal combustion engines. These transformed it from being a relatively raw asset – providing heat and light – and channelled it to power rapid advancement. This is the headspace that we need to be in when considering what video can do for us as modern communicators.

 

Why did you write this book?

I wrote the New Fire because this evolution has happened so fast that even for those working in the industry, it can feel pretty overwhelming to get your head around. I wanted to help people to make sense of it by breaking down what video is, how it has evolved and what this means for businesses and brands.

I also read a lot of business books and am yet to find a comprehensive account of brand video. There are ‘how to do it yourself’ books, there are books that look at marketing generally, there are very technical books which breakdown strategy. I haven’t yet found one that focuses specifically on corporate video. This has traditionally been a bit of a back water but this ignores the drastic evolution that has happened over the last decade. The UK government’s Independent Review of the Creative Industries published in 2017 didn’t include brand/corporate video content as a category, it didn’t even mention it. This is an estimated $8 billion global industry!

There are thousands of companies that have grown up over the last decade, producing stunning work for global businesses. As a member of this thriving industry, I wanted to represent the changes that have happened and to help both parties to get more from the relationship. 

 

Who should read this book? 

  1. Senior executives who want to understand more about using video content to engage staff, explain/promote products/launch or build a brand. The New Fire breaks down the assets that make video such a valuable tool so that you can think, speak plan around it from a position of understanding. From conversations with clients, senior execs and others working in the industry, I realised that there is often a bit of a knowledge gap between video practitioners, who tend to be a bit more clued up, and their bosses. This book specifically addresses that gap.
  1. Corporate/brand video commissioners who want to understand how to work more effectively with third party producers. The book breaks down each phase of the commissioning process from writing an effective brief and defining your audience to producing a cohesive content strategy.
  1. Marketers who want more detail on how and why one of the most potent tools in their armoury is just that. This book will help you to use it more effectively, improving returns from your campaigns.
  1. Recruitment/HR/Employer Brand professionals who want to understand how to use video to attract, recruit and motivate staff.
  1. Video producers/production companies/filmmakers working in business video who understand the process but might like a little more context.

 

What is it about?

The last ten years have seen a revolution in the way that video is used. Broadband Internet, DSLRs, camera phones, virals, YouTube, YouTubers, 3G, 4G, drones, consumer editing programmes, virtual reality, 360, augmented reality, interactive, all these things and more have completely changed video from the unidirectional tool for the privileged and put it in the hands of the masses. The most powerful communications tool yet invented can be used effectively. This has drastic implications for all of us, but it significantly changes the communications landscape for business. The pace of change has been such that to work in the way that many companies do, is to under realise the potential of this awesome platform.

The businesses that have realised the potential are creating huge value. Look at Red Bull. Okay, this may seem like an obvious example to use, but bear with me. They have created a whole brand media infrastructure which generates value for the core brand in a way that is indiscernible from the brand value of their core product. Every time someone sees a young lunatic heading off a jump upside down at 60 mph, they are reminded of Red Bull’s brand promise – that it ‘gives you wings.' 

josh-sheehan-red-bull-x-fighters-madrid-double-backflip

Obviously, if you’re an accountancy firm, or a bank, motorbike backflips aren’t necessarily going to chime with your brand. But if you understand who your target audience area and what makes them tick and then see where that intersects with what you stand for as a brand, you can get a huge amount of value from using video. That could be in direct ways – increasing sales by explaining your products or recruiting better staff – or less direct ways – like improving brand perception which ultimately sells more and allows you to charge more. However it’s used, the potential to build brand value is such, that businesses need to think about their content production as an additional product. This means that businesses need to think like broadcasters. They need to have a specific plan to deliver value for the business through content production. Whether they like it or not, they have a content channel and their audience expect them to use it, because if they don’t their competitors already will be. The New Fire breaks down how to do exactly that. 

 

Why is purpose such a valuable resource for content creators?

Using your business purpose as the cornerstone of your content is the best way to create impactful work. Having an anchor point which all of your creative can be linked back to also ensures that the content that you share through your ‘channel’ is coherent and relevant to your brand.

Business purpose has been such a hot topic over the last few years, underlined by Simon Sinek’s excellent book – Start with Why – “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. (Check out his extremely popular TED talk.There are lots of reasons to have a purpose beyond the simple profit motive.  For one, it’s a really effective way of improving engagement among your employees. You should think of your purpose as your company’s ‘North Star’, the idea or principle which can be used to inform every decision that you make. This makes it a powerfully aligning element for any business. It is hugely valuable externally too. Because it is your North Star, all of your content should have your company purpose woven into it. This can happen naturally if you feature members of your staff who are often the manifestation of your values. In other instances, it might be necessary to be more explicit in understanding how a project’s creative concept links back. 

Doesn’t mean that all your content should be about your purpose, but it should fit within the same orbit. To look at the Red Bull example earlier, their purpose can be summarised as: we give people the energy and inspiration to fulfil their dreams. For the MotoXer, that might be to try to kill themselves (sorry – do massive backflips) but it can be equally relevant to helping conceptual artists to create their art. This gives them a huge amount of space to create work which reinforces what they stand for as a brand. ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’ 

Once you have clarified this you can create content which allows your audience to decide whether your values align with their own. If they do, then you will be on your way to building them into being fans and ultimately raving fans – the people who do your selling for you. I’ve oversimplified there, but creating content of this nature, which is very light touch on the selling side is one of the best ways of building a resilient and ultimately profitable following online. 

Errr… why have you written a book about video?

Ha – I wrote a book for two reasons.

Firstly, it’s essential to understand your audience and the way that they consume information. This book is for people who come in contact with video within their business and want to know more. According to Inc magazine, most senior execs read 4-5 books per month. I wanted to communicate them in the format that they would be most comfortable.

Secondly, video is an excellent communications medium, but it’s not perfect for everything. There is a huge amount of information in there and I wanted people to be able to take the book, read it, peruse it and refer to it whenever they need to brush up on something. Want to understand the power of purpose? It’s in there. Need to set a budget? It’s in there? Want to know the difference between psychographic and demographic audience segmentation? It’s in there. Whatever it is, I’ve tried to make the information as accessible and as easy to refer to as possible.

I am looking at producing more video around it, but it turns out that writing a book takes up quite a lot of time!


You can read more about the New Fire and purchase your very own copy here: www.newfirebook.com

 

Topics: Being a better commissioner, How-to, Purpose driven video, News, Content Strategy

The Casual Academy

Posted by Nick Francis
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You may have noticed that a couple of weeks ago we ran our first ever Academy from our new office in the San Francisco Bay. As it's Thanksgiving and the holiday season is a great time for being charitable, we thought we'd share a bit more information on what the Casual Films Academy is...

Casual Films Academy - Overview

 

What is the Casual Academy?

We set the Academy up back in 2012. We wanted to do something which had a benefit to the world. We saw the potential of a win:win in video production, as both the process of production and the final output can be beneficial.

The main aim of the Casual Academy is to broaden access to the media industry. It provides 16 to 25 year olds with hands-on film training while making films for charities. This training is provided by filmmakers who mentor them through the production of a film for a small local charity. The charity gets a promotional film and the young people a piece for their showreel, and the experience of working to a brief from a real client.

Casual Films Academy Back On My Feet

Back On My Feet - New York, 2016

The course is designed to give the young people experience of the four main roles in the production process. Namely: creative/scriptwriter, producer, director, editor. This helps them to understand the different skills involved in each role, so that they can understand where to focus their energies to effectively enter the industry. The finished film is then presented to the charity at a premiere, which is attended by the young people’s friends and family. There is then a further career advice session to help them understand where to go next.

Casual Films Academy Beating Bowel Cancer

Beating Bowel Cancer - London, 2016

Why is this necessary?

For most people the way into the creative industries is via a three or six month unpaid internship. This limits access to all but the significantly privileged - particularly given the living costs in our home cities. This theme is reflected by the relatively limited variation in socio-economic backgrounds among those working in production, creative and media companies.

If our industry is the mouthpiece for business and culture, how can it be representative if it fails to properly reflect the views, ideas and backgrounds of all people?

Casual Films Academy Manor Gardens

Manor Gardens - London, 2015

What’s the plan?

We've run the Academy 10 times over the past six years. It has potentially global appeal, with young people, charities and professional filmmakers who are willing to give some of their time to help. If you fall into one of those groups, do please drop us a line. We're always looking for new people to work with.

Topics: Purpose driven video, Casual Academy

The Casual Films Academy charity comes to Oakland!

Posted by Nick Francis
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We have recently completed the first outing of the Casual Films Academy Charity in our new spot in California. We worked with a number of young people from Guardian Gyms to make a series of films to help the non-profit to expand into a second larger space.

Back in 2012, we realised that the process of producing films gives the opportunity for a double win. On the one hand, the film itself can be used as a valuable promotional tool for a local charity that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford one. On the other the process of making the film gives the opportunity to give access to young people to experience the many benefits of working in a creative team and making something. Since then we have worked with well over 100 young people. This year, with the help of our excellent staff, we brought the idea to Oakland, San Francisco Bay, CA.

Casual Academy Oakland

The Cause

The local cause we decided to work with was Guardian Gym - a non-profit martial arts gym based. They offer free classes to kids in the community, where they practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and boxing and are mentored, gain self-confidence. This helps them to develop important life skills like discipline. It works in a similar way to Tom's Shoes - one paying adult membership also pays for a young person’s membership. 

Guardian Gym’s model has been so successful that they have outgrown their space. They need more funding to help them to open a second, larger facility to accommodate more members – both adults and kids. The videos we made with our academicians (if we can call them that!) are intended to promote and raise money for this second location. 

US000_CasualAcademyOakland_Guardian_IG_Diego_v2

15s Instagram teaser of Diego's film

The Films

We created five 30 second videos, each focused on a different young person. They filmed and edited these with minimal direction and guidance from CF resident filmmaker James Fair. That's worth repeating - these films were shot and edited by our Academy students. Each video tells the story of how Guardian Gym has helped them overcome a challenge they faced. You can see the films by clicking here.

The young people seemed to really enjoy the community atmosphere and collaboration of the production. They got proper hands-on experience and were really able to take control of what they were making. Watching them, you wouldn't guess that they were shot and edited by kids between the ages of 10-13 (and 18). They turned out to be amazing, and showcase how committed and dedicated these five kids are to both Guardian Gym and the Academy. 

 

US000_CasualAcademyOakland_Guardian_IG_Khadijah_v2-1

15s Instagram teaser of Kadijah's film

"Capturing some of our kids while they participate in a project to learn how to film, edit, and tell a story with the Casual Academy. Such a great learning experience for them to find a potential passion early in life. We can't tanks James, Lydia and Sanica enough."

- Guardian Gyms 

A massive thank you to everyone involved in the the project. It wouldn’t have been possible without the time, effort and energy that our Oakland team put into it. If you want to make a donation please click here.

If you want to learn more about the Academy - if you have a local cause you think would benefit, or a young person in one of our home cities who is interested in getting involved then do please let us know. If you want to make a donation to the Academy - nothing is too small (or too big!) - to help us to help more special cause please contact us on hello@casualfilms.com

Topics: Purpose driven video, News, Casual Academy

Cause marketing - actions matter more than words...

Posted by Nick Francis
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Cause marketing - marketing with the dual aim of bettering society and driving profit is more important than ever. Important because frankly, society and world need all the help they can get, and because it’s a really effective way of improving the way your audience think about your brand.

Casual Films Cause Marketing

Cone Communications has been running an annual study on the efficacy of cause-related marketing. It found that this is no longer a differentiator, unless it is also accompanied by a genuine effort by the companies to demonstrate they are achieving an actual impact.

 “[Cause marketing] is no longer a competitive differentiator unless it is also accompanied by a genuine effort on the part of companies to demonstrate how their efforts were making a real impact on achieving results.”

– Cone Communications

Unfortunately, this shows it’s not enough to simply talk about the great projects that you are putting money into. Audiences are far more likely to talk about what a brand did than what they said. This means that, in order to make taking a more conscientious approach work for you, you actually need to get your hands dirty. You must ‘live your purpose’. It should shine through in everything that you do. Failure to do this leads to a perceived lack of authenticity in the eyes of your stakeholders, which, thanks to social media, will do disproportionate damage to your brand.

It is also important to get intricately involved in the causes that you wish to benefit in order to avoid the charge of ‘jumping on the bandwagon’, as Pepsi found with their Kendall Jenner protestors spot...

 

Getting it wrong: Pepsi and Kendall Jenner

Whatever cause you decide to get involved in, it’s essential that your brand has an authentic attachment to the cause. This cannot just be lip service. It is also extremely important that you understand the nuances of the issue and don’t trivialise it through superficial understanding. Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner commercial shows her giving cans of Pepsi to police officers, seemingly with a view to reducing tensions at a Black Lives Matter protest. The idea that Jenner, who is white, could turn up and solve the situation with a can of soda was seen as extremely insulting and out of touch. Social media did the rest, culminating in the 18-year-old model sharing a video, with her crying and begging the forgiveness of the masses.

Casual Films Kendall Jenner Pepsi

It might be tempting to move away from cause-related marketing as a result. The key point here is that if you are going to take this route, which you should, you need to get involved at the root, make a difference and then tell that story. It is not acceptable to simply say, from a disconnected position, that you ‘believe’ in good causes. It is necessary to actually become involved in them, to understand them and to benefit them; to use your considerable might to work towards a solution, no matter how small the step you enable might be.

 

Greenwashing

greenwash

/ˈɡriːnwɒʃ/

noun

Greenwashing is marketing that intentionally overemphasises the green credentials of a business activity, while downplaying the actual negative impact. As a term, it was first used by Jay Westervelt in an essay criticising the hotel industry for their habit of leaving cards in their bathrooms asking their guests to reduce the amount of washing that is done by not leaving their towels on the floor, from where they would have to be washed. Westervelt showed that, far from being motivated by the environment, the hoteliers were in fact motivated by the reduced costs it would incur, thereby increasing their profits.

It is not a new thing though; in 1969 alone, public utilities spent more than US$300 million on advertising their green credentials – more than eight times what they spent on the anti-pollution research they were touting in those ads.

Greenwashing became more elaborate through the 1970s and 1980s, to the extent that in 1990, on Earth Day 20, one-quarter of all goods launched in the US were marketed as being “recyclable, ozone friendly and compostable”. In 1985, Chevron launched their People Do series, which was aimed at those who were societally conscious and hostile to the company. The ads featured bears, eagles and animals, and underlined how hard the company’s people were working to protect wildlife during their work. These ran for 15 years and became a textbook case of how successful greenwashing can be, leading to a 10% jump in sales and a 22% jump among the hostile audience target group.

Greenwashing in the current ‘post-truth’ age is alive and well. The bottled-water industry, for example, leans heavily on imagery of the natural world in its marketing, and trumpets the reduction in plastic used in its bottles, while its products continue to have a severely negative ecological impact. Only 31% of plastic bottles consumed in the US are recycled. With so much demand for ‘green’ products (72% of millennials will pay more for environmentally sustainable products), it’s not surprising that businesses are keen to stress their credentials.

 

If you're interested in getting a few more tips on how to make better, more effective videos,

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Topics: Being a better commissioner, How-to, Purpose driven video

Building trust in the era of fake news

Posted by Nick Francis
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The ‘Age of Transparency’

The Technological Revolution has changed the nature of communication: it is no longer simply the few with the means broadcasting to the masses without. Communication is now omnidirectional: everyone is broadcasting, commenting on and sharing each other’s messages. This environment presents significant challenges for corporate communicators in particular – consistency of message is key. Out of sight is no longer out of mind. In the globalised world, eyes and cameras are everywhere. Blue-chip megaliths can lose billions in market capitalisation from a single incident, with their reaction magnified to the world by omnipresent smartphones. This ‘all-seeing eye’ has illuminated areas that were closed off before. We have become more familiar with the workings of authority. With this familiarity, contempt has crept in, which has led to a general crisis of trust.

Nick Francis Buidling Trust in the Era of Fake News

Scandals in almost every field – for example, sexual harassment/#MeToo, politics, corporate malpractice, police mistreatment (e.g. Black Lives Matter) and hacked answerphones – have led to historically low trust ratings for the traditional pillars of power. Traditional broadcasters are suffering from an onslaught of new media and a resurgent, divisive political movement intent on dismissing discourse; this increases and aims to capitalise on the trust gap.

Set against this backdrop, it’s not surprising that trust has become a, if not the, watchword of business communications. Every business function – from product launches to temporary-staff induction – has to be performed as if the world is watching, because, frankly, it could be.

There is now a constant check on all of your operations and communications. Would-be citizen journalists armed with camera phones are everywhere, as United Airlines found out in April 2017 when their security staff forcibly removed a passenger from a flight at Chicago O’Hare Airport. What was once an anecdote shared among friends now has the potential to become global news, aided by the power of moving image. Put a foot wrong and whistle-blowers – both internal and external – have the means to call you out in potentially ruinous ways. This phenomenon has made various commentators describe the modern age as the ‘Age of Transparency.’

 

“Trust is built on authenticity.”

– Brian Tracy

Beyond the obvious complexities of operating in this ‘Age of Transparency’, lie the challenges of dealing with ‘fake news’. The ability to broadcast has been used by some to share their own ‘alternative facts’. These are then shared and amplified, undermining the public’s faith in everything they see online. While this has impacted traditional media and governments more significantly, it is still a key concern for those in business communications.

Have faith though. All new technology takes a little time for people to understand and use effectively. Think of the men with red flags running in front of early cars to warn pedestrians, or cell phones ringing all the time before society discovered the vibrate function. We are living through an unprecedented period of technological advancement, so it’s unsurprising that there will be some growing pains. As I write, some of our brightest minds are working on solutions to these challenges.

Credibility is essential. This is particularly true given that, according to PR giant Edelman’s Annual Global Trust Survey, 69% of those questioned believe that the most important role for the CEO is to make sure that their company is trusted. It is essential to build and maximise the trust of your audience – your employees, your customers and your shareholders – but it can feel like you are swimming against the current. So, how can your communications help you to do that?

 

1. Make it about the audience 

The most valuable thing you can do to make your content resonate, is to make sure that it is right for your audience. They know themselves better than anyone, so they instinctively know what rings true and what feels false.

 

2. Be mindful 

Be careful where you allow your brand to feature online. The whole online environment is not as low trust as might appear at first. There are trusted pockets. It is important to seek these out, and to avoid sharing content on large international platforms that are failing their users and advertisers in providing a space free from lies and hatred.

 

3. Act with humility 

Be prepared to share the challenges as well as the successes. The greatest stories, with the greatest heroes, are not defined by unremitting success. They are made great through adversity. Share your adversity; you will enrich your narrative and the audience will come with you.

 

4. Be transparent 

Brands have been forced to deal directly with complaints and criticism of their online profiles for several years now. Those who have taken an ostrich-like head-in-the-sand approach have suffered significantly as a result. It is not an option to not engage, and yet very few, if any, companies have actively welcomed that negative feedback at a deep level and used it to improve themselves. There are, of course, huge challenges in operating a global business. The audience understand this. As with the previous point, put your hands up and explain that you don’t have all the answers, but that you’re doing your best. They will love you for it.

“Being transparent is what gives our business its most important asset – trust. At a time when there is a crisis of trust in many institutions across the world, there has never been a more important time for business to play a leading role in restoring it.”

– Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever

 

5. Be consistent 

You will gain the trust of your customers through delivering quality and value in both the content you produce and your products/services. Consumers like to know what they’re going to get, and will prefer to go with something that they know will be a 7/10, rather than shooting for a 9/10 and risking ending up with a 3/10. This desire for the ‘known’ explains the success of business chains to a large degree.

 

6. Deliver on what you promise 

Don’t say anything that you can’t back up with action, again and again. 

 

7. Have a higher purpose

For organisations, these are aspirational by their nature, grounded in humanity and go beyond the profit motive. A business’s purpose is often referred to as its ‘North Star’ – an unattainable, guiding light, against which all activities are measured. It provides clarity for all the decision- making in the business, from the significantly strategic to the day-to-day tactical.

“Purpose is a long-term, forward-looking intention to accomplish aims that are both meaningful to the self and of consequence to the world beyond.”

– Bill Damon, Director, Stanford Center on Adolescence

 

Purpose has come to be referred to as the ‘Why?’ for a business, as outlined by Simon Sinek in his excellent book Start with the WhyIt should clearly articulate the stance of the business, allowing everyone who comes into contact with it to identify whether it aligns with their own value structure and aspirations. As this alignment grows, it graduates to a state that stakeholders are able to describe as ‘belonging’.

This desire to belong to a tribe answers a base yearning within us all. Many of the most successful businesses of our time – Zappos, Ben and Jerry’s, and Apple – have grown through the successful propagation of a tribal belonging among their staff and customers. This is only possible through a powerfully articulated, clear purpose.

This success has led to purpose becoming en vogue for much of the business world. It’s no longer enough to exist to ‘maximise shareholder value’. In the post-2007 world, purpose- and cause-driven business is more important than ever.

We'll return to the purpose of purpose to the content of your content very soon. Watch this space.

 

Topics: Attract and retain the best candidates, Increase brand awareness and appeal, Being a better commissioner, How-to, Purpose driven video

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