I woke up this morning to find this video in my newsfeed. And of course I watched because the headline was: Customers freak out when the floor disappears, but mostly because it’s The North Face.
We’ve all become jaded when it comes to branded content because it’s hard to pull it off well as is evidenced by the fairly mediocre acting in this video – the feigned shock when the floor starts to disappear – but here is why I think this gimmick works:
It makes me want to buy a North Face jacket.
That’s something new, isn’t it? A viral (or potentially viral, or let’s try and make a viral) video that actually does more than raise brand awareness but generates sales?
I’m a former waiter who is skeptical about eating out because I know what happens in the kitchen. Likewise, I know what happens at the planning table: The client wants a viral video. The agency sets about making a viral video that includes cats, puppies, or secret cameras spying on people doing stupid things. They focus more on creating content that will get shared than on content that will generate interest and sales.
What happens is, you end up with something maybe cool (a small percentage of the time), but mostly contrived. Much of the time, we get something that has us scratching our head about the tie-in with the brand. For example, what does a horse and a puppy kissing have to do with beer?
Why does The North Face video work?
Because the video takes me inside their store and shows me cute people wearing hip jackets that are not only stylish but practical for anyone living in a winter clime. Then, like a scene out of a bad movie, I have to sort of avert my eyes during the moment of bad acting when the floor slips away. They would have lost me there, but they created a conflict, and I wanted to see it resolved. What was going to happen to these people?
A climbing wall appears – appropriate. And their active target market climbs the wall to save their lives! And then a beautiful coat (not everyone will agree they are beautiful) descends from the ceiling like a holy grail and you see these kids reaching, like they’re reaching for a dream.
How bad do you want it?
Bad enough to leap?
And they do it! (well, we don’t ‘see the ones who don’t do it, if there are any. Wait. There likely aren’t any, because these are actors.) They leap to grab the jacket, land on the trampoline and we see joy and excitement and the music carries us away.
I’ve always taken issue with brands that spend a lot of money on brand awareness for pure entertainment value when they could put that money to work doing good, and still raise awareness. The North Face won me over on this one.
I have to go shopping now.[ssba]