Hilarious video, serious marketing lessons

I wanted to show you this awesome music video because it’s creative, hilarious and it also reinforces a theme I’ve been writing about over several months …

Toyota paid big bucks to produce this YouTube video. It’s not meant for TV. It’s meant for the viral web … and viral it went. Point one: The big guns are pouring on to the social web. And they will dominate.

This video is about a minivan. But it is a ton of fun.  Doesn’t it just make you forget all those annoying little Toyota brake problems? Point two: To cut through the clutter, you have to be entertaining. In fact, the pressure to be entertaining is going to intensify for all of us if we want to cut through the clutter. The actual car is secondary in this piece.  In fact, not a single product feature is even mentioned.

Point three: Small businesses are not necessarily going to be squeezed out of the social web, but the expectations for quality content are going to be high.  Get ready.

Final point: Content is king baby.  Yeah, you have to develop relationships but you get there through content. Send your kids to journalism school. Seriously. The future for writers is bright.

By the way, my buddy Ike Pigott turned me on to this little video gem. We’ve never met but we’re going to see Rush in concert together in September. Viva La Twitter.  Rock on.

What do you think about this trend?  What would you say if your ad agency came to you and suggested spending $500,000 on a two-minute video that actually makes fun of your product?  How does this build an emotional connection to mini-vans?  To Toyota?

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  • Let me just say that the video is great. I can’t believe I haven’t seen this. Once I saw it, I immediately sent it on to a couple of friends. This is definitely proof that entertaining, high-quality content spreads like wildfire on the Web. You just can’t resist sharing something like this.

    As for what it will do for the brand, it will be interesting to see what kind of results this gets. Though, maybe the intent isn’t necessarily to drives sales, but to improve the perception of the overall brand. You’re right, I didn’t think once of Toyota’s brake problems when watching. Instead, it made me think that the Sienna embraces, and even celebrates, the stereotypes of the minivan. It made the minivan seem more fun.

    Personally, I think this is smart strategy as viral videos on the web are becoming more valuable than TV ads. Think about it, how many people actually WATCH commercials on TV. Either you use a DVR and fast forward, or you multitask on your computer during the breaks. With a video like this, especially when a friend sends it to you, you STOP. You watch. You pay attention because it was recommended by someone you trust. I think web impressions like that are far more valuable than TV.

  • Great video! Thanks for sharing.

    I think a 2 minute video can provide any business with a real online kick. But you don’t have to pour 500,000 every time. Flip, iMovie and a bit of editing skill can go a long way.

    A film company in Stockholm has made 33 films for local schools to promote themselves. I know a school that made 2 films in house and got more views on YouTube than the pros.

    A lot of it comes down to the theme of the film, but also having an online hub and outposts where you can promote and share the video.

  • Mark

    Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the great comments.

    @Jon School videos = case study?

  • Pingback: Storytelling Social Media Marketing PR Business & Technology Curated Stories May 21, 2010()

  • I love that video. Hat tip to Ike. To your point, this video has over 2 million views on the Sienna channel and over 300,000 on other channels. This raises the question is how can Toyota keep it on their channel and prevent other channel from using it to drive traffic?

    Also to your point, I didn’t even realize it was a Toyota product until reading your blog. The video was so entertaining that the only brand I remembered was Sienna.

  • Still laughing. I love it. The power of viral is great and couple that with music = a winning combination. Just like Laura, I already forwarded to friends!

  • Mark – love it. Can’t believe I didn’t see it either. Where the heck have I been?

    I agree completely that the entertainment quality of advertising has big play in the future – especially when it comes to viral. I don’t think that trend will be isolated with the B2C brands, either. I think that all business sectors will need to step their game up in order to catch the attention of their target audience and then encourage sharing.

    It’s an interesting development for marketers and writers because it means learning some new skills and ways of thinking about how to reach people.

    Oh … and you’d probably better either learn how to operate a camera and editing software or make friends with some people who already have those skills.

    When will we see your first viral video, Mark?

  • Mark W Schaefer

    MY first viral video? Ha! I still can’t get over the hurdle of putting a camera in front of me and saying “Hi everyone it’s me!” I’m working up to it. Maybe. : )

  • Elizabeth Sosnow

    Loved the power of the video, but even more enchanted with the mental image of you and Ike at a Rush concert. Most excellent.

  • Mark

    Most excellent indeed. : )

  • But what if it doesn’t sell any Siena’s? Not sure it changes the perception of them because of the fallacy of all Auto Advertising. The image balloon get’s popped the minute you see someone driving it on the street or the car in the parking lot.

    I love the Kia Soul commercials with the cute hamsters. They are awesome and targets the Gen Y demographic. Problem is the Soul looks better on TV and I have still yet to see someone under 60 driving one (go figure!)

    That mouthful said its a great commercial. And 6mil views saved them probably $300k but is less targeted than TV. And we don’t know how many people played it more than once or how many views were the demo they are targeting. I have to assume this is going on TV too?

    Sincerely your Marketing Devil’s Advocate

  • You’re right on, Mark. Clever, creative and certainly an online crowd pleaser. But is it window dressing? Does a cute and clever marketing message really make us forget the brake problem that killed and maimed — and the cover-up surrounding it?

    I see two PR lessons from Toyota in past year. And no video can fix them.

    Lesson one: Secrecy and deception will bite you — no matter how big (and arrogant) you may be. Toyota withheld vital safety information from its customers and government regulators. And the secrecy goes beyond the brake problems to other issues such as chronic truck-body rust-outs and engine gunking. The conduct was inexcusable, and destroyed the trust many had in the brand.

    Lesson Two: There’s hope, because good performance brings with it forgiveness. Toyota screwed up big time, and some of us will forever question its corporate ethics. But for most people, if the product delivers on its promise, and Toyota has done that 99.9% of the time, the wounds heal quickly.

    I remind my students that the most important step in any marketing or PR campaign is for product and service to exceed expectations.

  • Mark

    @Howie — Meausurment is always the key issue in marketing isn’t it? Thanks.

    @Bill — Right on. Agree 100% Is it window dressing? In a way, isn’t all brand-building activity window dressing? Difficult and expensive to measure. You just hope it supports the brand in the long-term.

  • I think that comedian from the Sonic commercials is making a career out of commercials.

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