Story-Telling: Doing It One Video At A Time
The following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Micah Avery Guiao, this chapter is titled “Story-Telling: Doing It One Video At A Time.” In it, Francis John Chua, the Head of Channel and Content Strategy of Mindshare, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in telling anecdotes through their marketing.
Most marketing practitioners in the field tend to steer clear of video-based content— and for good reason. A study from Microsoft Corporation has revealed that the average person’s attention span lasts about eight seconds. Thus, an advertisement only has the same amount of time to capture audience attention before the company’s advertisement gets drowned in a sea of other posts. Gone are the television advertisements on air when kids would have to sit out several commercials for half a minute each before they could proceed with the show. With social media under people’s control, they can switch to another video just as quickly as they clicked play.
With video content as a high risk, high reward scenario, Francis John Chua has managed to make a checklist of when to utilize video-based marketing pared down to six simple points, removing all complications on a company’s end. With over 17 years of experience in advertising and marketing, Chua has come to work with some of the world’s biggest brands like SM Retail, 2GO Group, ABS-CBN Corporation, and Coca-Cola. Years of his experience working with varied brands has culminated in his latest company switch to better hone his marketing expertise. Now residing in Bangkok, Thailand, Chua has moved on as the Head of Strategy at Mindshare Thailand—one of the world’s largest media agencies.
In contrast to graphics, what videos can do is tell an immersive story. Before charging into this field, first consider if there is a clear story to be told. Otherwise, don’t bother. In embarking on what story to tell, he suggested two ways to do it: from a brand standpoint or a cultural standpoint.
For instance, his stay in 2GO was a matter of rebranding the entire image of the company as a whole: “Compared to airlines, sea travel needed some catching up in order to provide the same keen experience. Given the accessibility of airline rates, it has reframed the travel experience forever. Now people want it faster, cheaper, and more aspirational.”
Chua figured that in order to change 2GO’s narrative, he needed to create a new one. With the theme “good things take time” in mind, his team launched the Trip Of Your Life campaign for young adults to document their experiences as they ride on ships for travel. Instead of “seeing multi-port stopovers as a burden,” Chua used video to dramatize the port-to
port experience instead, elevating it as a fun non-negotiable. They offered various ways to make the sea travel experience almost cruise-like. They boasted of the entertainment and fun, safety standards, almost a create-your-own experience in riding the ship.
On the other hand, the perception with Coca-Cola has managed to transcend beyond simple story-telling as it enters the “cultural point of view.” For Chua, the message of positivity every Coca-Cola advertisement displays is reminiscent of how natural marketing can be.
“Over time, people realized that happiness is a mindset they want to be in, happiness became positivity, positivity became optimism—different iterations of the same concept,” he said. “The Filipinos have always had that sense. We remain positive amid challenges and that is what’s keeping up strong. The brand needed only to remind Filipinos this especially when times are tough. As a brand that believes in optimism, Coca-Cola rallies behind the Filipinos who have always believed in happiness.”
One of their memorable campaigns was The Coca-Cola OFW Project, where the company surprised three families who have not seen their OFW relatives in years and captured their reactions on video. Truly for Filipinos, especially during Christmas, happiness is seeing a loved one home and sharing a meal with them. The video brings that emotion vividly to life. That, for Chua, continued to be a cultural masterpiece.
When the story is covered, there is a need to figure out the kind of content to release it on. The creation of video content need not be expensive, especially when outsourced. There are ways to effectively manage cost. One just needs to talk to the right partner. “When you invest in content marketing, go all out. Do not cut for the sake of saving the budget. If there is no budget for that, then you can invest in other media first.”
He knew that this is the dilemma of most marketing communications managers―having to deal with budget cuts. “I think of each and every asset as a piece of communication, and not a luxury or nice to have. If it’s addressing a problem, or educating consumers, or converting awareness to purchase, then it needs to be supported.”
Once this is settled, the next thing to consider is where the video ought to be posted. It’s important to note that when producing an asset, it needs to reach the proper audience, which can be successfully achieved when marketing communications managers align it to their objective.
Although the brand can have its own target audience at hand, Chua mentioned that the best community posts reach those outside of the company’s usual circle. However, this does not mean collect every vlogger there is on the market. Immediately equating a large following to a wide audience reach is a common mistake among those who utilize this approach. After all, not all publicity is immediately beneficial. Vloggers represent a brand and its values; it’s important that the brand share the same values as well. Also, it’s important that the audience a brand ambassador has ultimately meets the aims of the company.
Chua noted that in sourcing for an influencer, make sure to “have a real use for them.” Story telling is done most authentically when the message comes from the posters themselves. If there is a fear of seeming off-brand or an expectation for an influencer to strictly adhere to the key messages, then it’s best to stick to the classics of digital marketing instead: “If you are just using them to echo the same message as your video, just advertise on Facebook to increase reach.”
The next question is posed: Is there a need to boost the posted video? Like outsourcing content, never do things half-baked. According to Chua, wanting a viral campaign without splurging on necessary means to promote it is equivalent to “winning a lottery.” Thus, he recommended to set audience reach as wide as possible, otherwise the content is good for no one. For Chua, the tree does not fall when no one is there to hear it.
At the end of the day, Chua noted that “marketing alone cannot keep the company going.” The relationship between the company and the consumer is the most essential to cultivate for true brand impact. Through this strategy, the word-of-mouth created from these bonds can live on, even after the initial marketing campaign is launched. It should then go without saying that the best marketing efforts are ones that are self-sustained.
“Every consumer is a story-teller. Let consumers get involved in this story-telling process guided by their understanding. One way to do this is give them a platform or a channel where they can collaborate with the brand,” he said.
Chua’s story shows that video, when leveraged properly, can be the make or break tool in a marketing strategy’s arsenal. More than just an easy fix however, Chua lets us know that video can only be effective by an intimate knowledge of the target audience and the realities of the market.
To get more insights from other marketing leaders like Francis John Chua, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
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