Inevitably, someone on your video marketing team is going to come up with a “controversial” video idea. We’re not talking about offensive ideas that should never be thrown out in a marketing brainstorm meeting, but a video idea that’s a little in your face, or seemingly counterintuitive to increasing sales, or covering a hot-button topic that’ll really start a conversation.
There are plenty of videos that start conversations with a controversial idea and end up going viral. We’ve even covered a few of them here. Whether it’s a found footage prank style video for April Fools, or a gut-punching PSA-style video, or both, you or someone on your team is inevitably going to come up with a concept that’ll tempt you to go for the viral video gold. But should you do it?
Here’s a fun one that’s not quite so controversial, but still dares you to watch it with a clickbaity premise. “Please leave.” Now that is a head-scratching call to action. Ad agency Stink Studios put together this ad called “Welcome to Wetransfer. Please Leave” for the file sharing and creative design company Wetransfer. The premise is exactly what the title says: leave. Go outside. Stay away, because “when you’re in here, you’re not out there. Where life happens.”
It’s an interesting idea and a beautiful video, narrated equally beautifully by the great writer Roxane Gay as a type of visual poem about the beauty of leaving behind your screen for the great outdoors. How does that relate to WeTransfer? How does that help the entirely digitally driven company at all? Watch the video below to find out yourself!
Gorgeous, right? Here are a few takeaways on why we think it works so well.
1. Your video has to sell your audience on an idea, even if the idea isn’t YOU.
When it comes to creating a marketing video for your company, it can be tempting not to just sing your own praises all day long. Don’t get us wrong, that approach often leads to successful video marketing results. But it’s also the obvious choice, done by hundreds of other companies getting into video marketing themselves.
If you’re going for something that stands out from the crowd, you’re going to need to stand out. One of the ways to do that effectively is to sell your audience on an idea – even if it’s not you.
Video is visual communication, using moving pictures as language to communicate an idea. At the end of the day, you’re telling an audience a story. In video marketing, you’re selling them a story. The story doesn’t have to be how great you are. Instead, try making your story about how great your audience is. How great their life is – or like in “Welcome to WeTransfer,” how great it could be.
“Please leave” works because it speaks to a problem so many modern people have. We feel addicted to our screens, or stuck behind them. So much time is spent on our screens, both at work and for leisure, that it can feel hard to escape. The idea WeTransfer is selling in their ad is actually really palatable. Leave your dang screen! How many of us have thought about or talked about wanting to go on a digital cleanse? Get off the grid? Go travel, finally? Sign me up! Which is why you should…
2. Touch on an important problem or deeply relatable feeling in your audience.
In actuality, the idea behind “Please leave” was an easy sell. Even though the idea itself was controversial for a video ad meant to increase sales, the theme spoke to a deeply relatable feeling so many of WeTransfer’s potential customers actually have. The trick was showing at the end how their products and services support and encourage turning those feelings of a need to escape into a reality. To quote WeTransfer, “that’s why everything we design makes the most of your time.” A simple idea, but because we bought into the first idea, it became easy to accept the second.
Think about what themes or issues your own video concepts can touch on that are relatable to your audience. Your video ideas can be spicy and full of hot takes to drum up video views as long as they touch on something real your audience can feel. Try to avoid falling into the “has this ever happened to you?” infomercial trope, and instead focus on the feelings behind the obvious problem.
For example, if you’ve created a new autonomous electric vacuum, you could create a video focused on a married couple taking an adventurous new step in their relationship, like attending a hip-hop dance class together, and make the ad about the couple overcoming the challenges of the class (and their relationship) while the little vacuum cleans up at home. The theme could be “Stop cleaning up completely.” To a vacuum company trying to increase sales, that might seem like the opposite message they want to put out into the world. But if the video is focused on the couple working through their differences while growing and deepening their relationship, instead of arguing over housework, then isn’t that actually the perfect message for a vacuum company trying to sell more vacuums? Just think about it. Is your mind blown?
3. Work with fantastic partners.
We could go on forever about the stunning visuals, perfectly understated editing, or subtle sound design of this video, but we would have to break down each moment frame by frame, and that would take forever. The key takeaway here is that to create a beautiful, mesmerizing, and subtle masterpiece like this, you need to work with the pros.
WeTransfer had both a talented influencer partner in Roxane Gay and her vocals, and great agency and video production partners, in addition to their teams, to put this piece together. When you create a similarly (or much more) risky video ad aiming to go viral, you want to make sure the craft element of the video is as on point as possible. Nothing is worse than a video trying to say something, but with terrible sound quality. Hard to hear what you’re trying to say, in more ways than one.
Instead, reach out and find a collaborator to help you execute your vision. The riskier it is, the riskier it is to try to pull it off yourself.
Don’t get us wrong, there was nothing that risky about this video, but if they didn’t pull off making the outside world look breathtaking and adventure-inspiring, they’d have a harder time convincing anyone to leave their screens, because, you know, Netflix exists.
Plus, threading the needle on how to tie such a genius, back-to-basics idea back to the company’s digital products required a deft hand. This team definitely pulled it off.