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Brand Promotions: How to Create Compelling Content

Brand promotions is a pretty large bucket that we love to play and create it. There can be lots of questions around the over-arching topic of brand promotions from '"what is integrated marketing", "telling your brand story through content", "live action vs. animation", "what type of advertising you should launch around your promo", and more.

Here you'll find our list of topics, questions answered, how-to's, and tips n' tricks, all related to the world of brand promotions.

If you keep up with my blog posts, then you know I’m a big fan of disruptive ideas and non-traditional storytelling. It’s my belief that, as our relationship with media evolves, so do the opportunities for brands to engage with us. That means brands can reach us in places they haven’t before, and bring us incredible, engaging stories or experiences they weren’t capable of bringing in eras passed. While we’re not in the so-called “Golden Age of Advertising” anymore, we’re at an incredible juncture where a brand’s message intersects with meaningful brand actions. And in the news right now, there’s a lot going on in terms of actions. Namely, the Olympics.

A lot of brands make sure they’re well represented during the Olympics, and this year was no exception. From athlete sponsorships to inspiring commercials, there was a lot of good advertising happening this year, even if the Games have been a little tense with social and political issues.

But there are a few brands that took their Olympics presence to the next level. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Energy Drinks, Eat Your Heart Out

The iconic “Got Milk?” campaign just got a big refresh, and the best new execution out of the campaign is a fabulous stunt which was released just in time for the Olympics.

Creative agency Gale had the hilarious and brilliant idea for their client, The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), to build a gym inside the dairy cooler of a local grocery store. The Fridge features Olympic athletes...

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Advertising is Based On _____________

Integrated Marketing is a bold, amorphous term (an essential kickstarter for branding and partnership conversations). It’s the perfect couplet to lead off a complicated brief.

How’s your integrated marketing? Oh boy, thought you’d never ask! It’s custom, customizable and easily executionable (We know, not exactly a real word), but our integrated marketing is such a game changer - a fearless disruptor - that we can reinvent the wheel, easily optimizing our own marketing terms to move the needle and hit the ground running.

In its most basic form, integrated marketing showcases a brand’s content, equipped with the brand’s universal truth. It shares this truth, carefully, strategically, and subtly with an audience that may be (hopefully) willing to listen… at least for a moment.

Invoking Feelings in Your Audience

#ShareACoke Simple, right? The brand remains front and center: Coca-Cola. And its universal truth is right there, too; the act of sharing (literally, the first lesson, one learns in kindergarten). Someone shares a Coke with your name on it; you’re instantly happy.

Breaking down this cross-promotional example from Pretty Little Liars, featuring the show’s star, Shay Mitchell, one finds these little happiness nuggets that materialize from Shay’s memories with her favorite people in the world: the people she wants to share a coke with (her best friend, Joanie, her brother, Sean, and her assistant, Sammy).

Integrated Marketing relies...

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As children, we learn stories. We connect with, and become characters in them. As we grow older, the brands we love become our stories, and we become characters in these brand’s stories.

Your brand is not just the narrative you want to tell, but instead is the collection of the things your audience says about you. Warby Parker fully embraces this concept, telling visitors to their site, “The whole story begins with you.”

The way to transform your brand story into the stories you want your audience to tell is through creative and engaging content that they can share and make their own. With years of experience helping brands transform their stories into creative content, we’re sharing some ideas that you can make your own.

Stay Rooted, But Don’t Get Stuck

A strong brand should have a clear vision and messaging but also an openness to creative ideas to get that messaging out.

Warby Parker, who we’ll follow in this article, is a great example of a brand embracing their identity, but still finding opportunities to stretch the bounds of their story and connect with their audience in new ways.

Warby Parker's mission is built on a rebellious spirit offering good eyewear, for a good cause, and their vision is to make buying glasses easy and fun. While these ideas form the foundation for their brand, they always look for inventive ways to explore those ideals with their customers.

Create Shared Experiences

Warby Parker recognized early that trying on glasses is more fun with friends...

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Four serious lessons from a not-so-serious commercial.

A plastic car is decorated as a shark, but not for long. It's hurdling toward another plastic car, this one with a clown's skull bobbling on top. In a moment, they will collide, shedding their identities. Each revert to a blank canvas, reborn as sheer possibility.

Can this moment shed some light on the nature of life itself?

After much meditation, it turns out the answer is "no." But crashing toy cars can teach you a few lessons that very relevant to production, or really any creative endeavor. Here are four important lessons you can take away from our experience making a toy commercial about wrecking toy cars.

Lesson 1: Sometimes the Story Calls for Simplicity

The idea for this spot is extremely simple: take two toy cars and smash them into each other, over and over again. There are practical reasons to keep things simple, like having a tight deadline. But sometimes, the simplest idea is the best idea for the creative brief.

Here's the description of the Wreck Royale toy, from their website.

"Wreck Royale cars are new crashing, exploding vehicles with mix 'n match parts that kids will totally flip for! When Wreck Royale cars crash, their spring-loaded bumpers make them flip and their attached parts explode in all different directions."

Wreck Royale promises that if you crash them into each other, they will "explode" in exciting ways. It's a premise that works so well visually, so naturally we wanted to pack in as...

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How we helped ABC and Toyota adjust their plans on the fly and say goodbye to Modern Family.

As Modern Family approached its series finale, ABC and Toyota wanted to give a nostalgic send-off and thank you to all the fans who shared the journey over 11 seasons. The original concept, which called for a live action shoot, was moving full steam ahead until the coronavirus pandemic turned the entire world upside down. Guidelines for social distancing made it impossible to pull off a shoot that could tell ABC and Toyota’s story.  The spot had to be completely reimagined, but the deadline remained the same: Two weeks until the Modern Family finale.

That’s when we came in! With only fourteen days to pull off a fully animated, :30 spot, our team hit the ground running working from their home offices. We've been posting our ideas on what to do if your live action production has been cancelled because we immediately faced this scenario in a trial by fire. Today, we're sharing the unique challenges that tackling a project of this scale remotely presented and sharing the tools we relied on to deliver a spot for national broadcast. 

Modern Family, Modern Challenges, and Modern Solutions

The spot presented several challenges, as we needed to make sure every detail was just right. Previously, ABC/Modern Family had produced a sample of Key Art with a vector-style, 2D look. This became our jumping off point for design, though the spot eventually evolved in a more detailed mix of 3D and...

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How to shift your strategy in uncertain times.

Uncertainty seems to rule everything around us. We don't know how long we'll have to stay at home and keep social distance. We don't know how the economy will react over the next few months. We don't know what normal will look like once things finally "go back to normal." 

Uncertainty breeds fear. It's why companies pull back on advertising during uncertain times. But times like these can also be an opportunity. While others pull back, it provides more room for brands to get their message out and tell their story. They just need to be sure they're telling the right story in the right way: with empathy and creativity.

Strategize With Empathy

The coronavirus pandemic is hitting industries differently. Sectors like news, video conferencing, and esports are seeing surges in their userbase right now. Hotels and restaurants are among the companies hardest hit while we have to stay at home.

As you strategize for brand promotions, think of what the company is going through during these turbulent times. Put yourself in their position. This isn’t just about recognizing who might still have enough cashflow to buy ads. This is about thinking on a human level. How can you help them solve the unique concoction of problems that the pandemic has thrown their way? And, ideally, how can you do it in a way that will bring a positive impact to the world?

For companies that are still doing well, recognize that nothing feels like business as usual...

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Have to cancel your shoot? Desperate times call for creative measures. Here’s our guide with a few ideas of how to substitute a live action production with animation and design.

If you have been committed to a live action piece for the near future, chances are you’re stuck in a holding pattern. In fact, almost everything that requires a set with a cast and crew is on hold right now, and it’s unclear when anyone will be able to conduct business as usual. But that doesn’t mean your promotional plan has to stop or even be put on pause. It means you have a chance to be creative.

Some of our favorite solutions and approaches to creating content are still achievable in our current climate, including a wide range of animation. Techniques like stop-motion, 2D animation, 3D animation, CGI, or motion graphics blended with quality stock footage give you a tremendous amount of flexibility without needing to schedule a multi-person shoot. Here’s how to choose which method is best for getting your message out while making your content eye-catching and entertaining.

How to Showcase Your Product’s Personality With Stop-Motion Animation

Rather than using talent to showcase an object, story, or concept, stop-motion animation imbues an object with character and life. This can make your product the star of the show in a fun and whimsical way, which is why stop-motion works so well for toy commercials. When Tonka debuted their new Tonka Tinys line, we created a series of vignettes that turned...

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