Video marketing and content have exploded in the past few years. On YouTube alone, over 400 hours of videos are uploaded every minute and 1 billion hours are watched on the platform every day. The fastest-growing form of content on the Web, video doesn’t just thrive online. It’s evolving. And smart brands are studying and mastering the trends.
Tools like livestreaming and 360-degree video are changing the way marketing agencies and brands envision, create and deliver video content.
It’s not enough to talk about video: The best examples must be seen (and heard) to be believed.
Here are 20 marketing agencies and brands demonstrating how to identify the right format, message and soundtrack for a desired effect. Since we couldn’t rank their sheer awesomeness, we’ve created categories.
Leo Burnett for Always: #LikeaGirl
Always’s #LikeaGirl campaign seeks to encourage girls to stay in athletics, which has been shown to boost their self-confidence as well as imparting important life skills. In this video created by Leo Burnett, a background track punches up the energy with strong chords and a punctuating rhythm of handclaps.
R/GA Chicago: LifeWater’s Inspiration Drops
R/GA’s Chicago team pulled out all the stops for LifeWater’s 2017 Super Bowl ad, created to promote its limited edition artists series bottles. The colorful falling rain provides a spectacular set of visuals to underscore the artwork on the bottles, but the real star of the ad is the John Legend track.
Droga5 for Cover Girl: I Am What I Make Up
Long known for their “easy, breezy, beautiful” tagline and aesthetic, Cover Girl goes more intense in this video produced by digital agency Droga5. While the choice of Jefferson Airplane’s “And I Like It” as a backing soundtrack is perfectly on-message, the real genius here is in the overlaying video editing, which demonstrates a keen understanding of the song’s complex rhythms and tonal palette.
Head to Droga5’s website to see the video.
84.Paris for Greenpeace: Winter is Not Coming
In the internationally-acclaimed Game of Thrones series, the White Walkers are the ultimate creepy threat: mindless, savage, kept out of Westeros only by the Wall. In this video ad for Greenpeace, 84.Paris adopts both the visual and auditory aesthetic of Game of Thrones to underscore an even bigger monster: global warming.
Grey Group for States United to Prevent Gun Violence: Gun Crazy
The film Gun Crazy, created by States United to Prevent Gun Violence, needed a trailer that drove home the film’s point: Americans love gun violence in fictional films, but the real-life problem terrifies us. Grey Group’s resulting trailer demonstrates not only the emotional impact of the original stunt, but perfectly blends the genres of action film trailer, documentary and news report to create a cohesive and intensely powerful video.
Head to Grey’s website to see the video.
Havas Worldwide for Child Survival India: No Child Brides
Video is often sold as “engaging,” “dynamic,” and “outgoing” — but when done right, it’s introspective and moving, as well. Case in point: Havas Worldwide’s video for Child Survival India, centering the plight of child brides and demonstrating the work Child Survival India has done to raise awareness of the increased poverty, illiteracy, infant mortality, abuse and other ills that accompany it. The only spoken words you’ll find are at the beginning; for most of its two minutes, the video compels deep engagement and introspection through text, images and a soundtrack that maximizes the emotional impact of dynamic contrast.
Digitas for Whirlpool: Dad and Andy
Shopping for appliances can be shiny and fun — but it’s how we use those items to build a life that matters. That’s the message behind Whirlpool’s “Dad and Andy” ad, created by content agency Digitas. The heartwarming story features a single father trying every day to do his best for his son, and it’s backed by a gentle, homelike guitar strain and capped with the classic “You Are My Sunshine” sung by Johnny Cash.
Bardzo: English for Beginners
Don’t get intimidated by the Polish words that appear on the screen at the beginning of this short film that Bardzo, an agency in Warsaw, did for Polish auction site Allegro. The film switches to English a few seconds later (to cute, hilarious results).
We won’t spoil the story here, but this one’s worth two watches: The first for the story itself, and the second for Bardzo’s wonderful Chris Columbus-style soundtrack. Listen for how the music slowly builds from a curious, plunky melody — one that would have fit nicely into the Home Alone soundtrack — to a gentle version of Silent Night.
Carmichael Lynch: Subaru’s Making Memories Campaign
Minneapolis agency Carmichael Lynch has found a way to keep tugging at our heartstrings with its Subaru TV spots. The video below, an extended cut of the 30-second spot most audiences have seen, features the song aptly named song “Time Will Tell” by South African contemporary folk artist Gregory Alan Isakov.
Keplar for Amsterdam Music Festival: #AMF2016 Official Trailer
Video content that syncs music and Foley work, yet keeps them separate, appears every single day. Fewer content agencies try for the ambition of a piece like Keplar Agency’s trailer for the 2016 Amsterdam Music Festival, which works the sounds of a trip through the streets of Amsterdam into the EDM soundtrack as tonal and percussive elements. The message? #AMF2016 is Amsterdam, and you should be there.
Column Five: 2017 Video Reel
Media agency Column Five does strong work for a number of big names — and they also sell themselves to perfection. Their 2017 video reel set out to showcase their best video and animation from the year, but it also demonstrates their spot-on listening skills: a synth soundtrack’s funky backbeat is perfectly synched to the agency’s video and animation clips.
Head over to Column Five’s website to see the video.
Razorfish for Acura: Race Your Heart Out
For Christmas 2015, Razorfish and Acura brought us all what our 9-year-old hearts desired: slot cars. By combining multi-camera video and interactive Web apps, Acura made it possible for users to “drive” the cars in real time by tapping their phone screens — and made it possible for Razorfish to generate one of the most fun videos of the holiday season, backed with split-second sound effects and the silly excitement of Julian Casablancas’ “I Wish It Was Christmas Today.”
Huge, the media company behind the redesign of the NYC website and Hulu.com, found the pulse of teen and young-adult silly, self-referential culture in this ad for Zelle, an app that allows people to send money to and from several major banks and with any debit card. Holding together the brownstones, sassy grannies, and astronauts riding dinosaurs is a hip-hop backbeat and the inimitable style of Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs.
Check out the video on Huge’s website. It’s the second video down.
Travel Portland: Welcome to the World of Portland
With an entire planet of travel options, individual locations are often hard-pressed to attract tourists. Travel Portland nailed the feel of the city in Welcome to the World of Portland, a two-minute video that delivers a powerful emotional connection with high-quality images, a strong soundtrack and quick-text visuals. Even the most casual viewer can’t help but come away with a positive image of the city.
Dissolve: This is a Generic Millennial Ad
A little self-awareness is good for all of us. And lest we in the media business lose our ability to detect BS, stock photo and video licensing company Dissolve has us covered. In collaboration with Brooklyn creative studio And/Or, the Dissolve team put together the three-minute gem below.
The ad is made entirely of Millennial-ly stock footage from Dissolve with a vaguely anthemic festival-sounding track in the background. It’s an excellent piece of marketing satire that “parodies the multinational brands that pay lip service to the youth market with meaningless hashtags, misplaced emojis, slang that’s totes old, and stale pitches to ‘join the conversation,’” the Dissolve team says.
Wieden + Kennedy for EA: FIFA Feel the Game
What’s better than playing video games, attending the FIFA World Cup or playing in the FIFA World Cup? All three, combined. That’s the message behind Wieden + Kennedy’s FIFA Feel the Game video for EA, in which video game and real-life footage not only blend together seamlessly, but fit perfectly over a thrilling movie-esque soundtrack.
Joint + Amazon: Amazon’s Imam and Priest Ad
Joint won the holiday season in 2016 with this video it did in collaboration with Amazon. The video features a priest and imam who, clearly longtime friends, meet for a cup of tea. As the imam leaves the priest’s home, both are struck by what to get the other for a holiday gift.
Amazon and Joint take great care in making this ad. Simon Morris, director of advertising at Amazon, told The Guardian that his team consulted with several faith-based organizations and planned for months to get the story just right.
You can hear the care and delicate handling in the music, too. It’s a single, uplifting piano piece that cuts out at just the right moment (at 0:49 in the video below).
Mother for CB2: Apt CB2
If you don’t have what you want, build it — and film it. When CB2 decided to furnish an apartment based entirely on Pinterest user recommendations, Mother stood behind them, creating a project trailer that combined video, animation and a peppy digital soundtrack that had viewers clicking even before the Pinterest phase went live.
Lowe’s: The Weekender
Home improvement TV shows are a major hit, so for home-improvement superstore Lowe’s, moving into this space was a no-brainer. Lowe’s The Weekender, now in its third season, features DIY expert Monica Mangin pulling off 15-minute interior decorating marvels. Each episode has a dedicated webpage showing which products were used in the makeover, plus where to find your nearest Lowe’s in order to stock up.
Watch The Weekender Season 3 trailer on the Lowe’s website.
Marriott: French Kiss
Hotel chain Marriott has gone all-out in the video content realm, building an in-house production studio and partnering with some outstanding names in the film business. The company’s 2015 short film French Kiss, for example, generated over a half million dollars in Marriott bookings in the first 60 days following its release. While all hotels promise an experience, Marriott’s in-house production company has mastered the use of video to deliver on its promise.
You can see the film on Marriott’s French Kiss homepage.
Image by: Jakob Owens