Good video content vs people ‘wandering round with an iPhone’


A marketing manager client recently told me that her decision about how to produce video content would often come down to a simple choice between two options. If they had the budget, they’d use an external production company like mine…. and if they didn’t, it would be made by ‘someone from marketing wandering round with an iPhone’.

This is crazy.  Well versed in the idea that brands need to regularly engage their audience with interesting content, marketing teams are under huge pressure to just get stuff made. But just because you can just pick up your phone and shoot something, doesn’t mean you should.

Call in the experts?

Understanding audiences and creating useful, interesting content is a skillset that can take years to develop. Dr Paul Marsden, a psychologist specialising in consumer behavior trends and technology thinks it should be completely left to the experts.   I agree with his points in that content creation isn’t something that brands should just automatically assume they have the skills to do. However, not everyone has the luxury of budgets big enough to work with content specialists each time they need to produce something. So it’s understandable that there’s a need to produce stuff in-house.

Just like with social or any other digital marketing strategy, for most companies and brands, there should be a mix of external and internal expertise. At the moment, it’s often the internal expertise that’s lacking, so this week we launched Forward Slash – In House, a support service to help in house teams produce better video content.

Embracing the ‘content revolution’ and regularly producing video content shouldn’t mean brands have that stark choice about going with the professionals, or winging it on a smartphone. Just as with digital and social, there is a need for all brands to improve their content skills, and the best way to do this is by working with content experts.

Who are the experts?

People already involved with the industry have watched with interest as the content revolution has continued to attract many different players into the area of content.  Media agencies are investing in content teams to develop content directly for advertisers, media owners have been in this space for years and are increasingly relying on revenues from branded content, now digital marketing agencies offer content production services, many PR companies are repositioning as content agencies, and then there’s social and real-time agencies …. it’s a very busy marketplace.

Lots of these people are content experts (dare I say, many are not…) but at the simplest level, producing good branded content is about understanding two things – the audience and the brand.   For most companies, thinking of their prospective customers as their ‘audience’ is the new bit. If that’s you, then make sure you work with people who already understand audiences and have a history of creating good content for them.  People with a history of creating content that audiences actually want.   Steve Ackerman, MD of content company Somethin’ Else wrote a great piece in Marketing Magazine about this earlier in the year.

If you work with someone who understands audiences, and also understands your marketing objectives, then you should be able to create really great branded content. But if you need to produce more of it in-house and your team are just ‘wandering round with an iPhone’, get help to improve their skills quick.


Liz Cunningham is Content Director at Forward Slash







Nike / making it count

As a trainer geek and Nike fan I am a sucker for Nike promos.

#makeitcount is the new campaign for 2012, aiming to inspire people to get out and make the most of life. The product behind it is the fuelband, a wristband that helps you track your physical activity from running to playing the drums and everything in between.

The online video for the campaign follows an ad maker who instead of making the prearranged video, takes Nike’s money and runs, spending it on a 10 day world trip instead. It’s a thrilling 4 minutes, covering 34,000 miles, three continents and 13 countries.

It’s a risky business setting something like this up. Online viewers are keen to sniff out a fake or phony video, and social media can turn a campaign on its head if people can see the strings or don’t trust it.

The success of the strategy on this one is indisputable. It’s racked up nearly 6 million hits on youtube, and nearly 30000 likes. Beyond the fact that there’s great fun in the concept, I think the secret of its success is the person Nike picked to make the film.

Casey Neistat became famous online back in 2003 with a video about Apple’s ipod battery life that he made with his brother Van. More online hits campaigning about bike theft and cycle lanes in New York confirmed Casey and Van as youtube stars. In 2008, a deal with HBO for a hand made TV series chronicling their daily escapades showed how online fame can cross over to the mainstream.

As well as the immediate and easy rapport with the viewer, this mix of campaigning integrity and knowledge of what will gain traction online makes Casey a great choice.

Credibility is essential when you want viewers to go on a ride with you, literally and metaphorically, especially with campaigns that aim to reach out so directly into people’s lives. If you want that kind of engagement, you really need to be accountable. Turning a big commercial message into a personal story is a compelling way to do it.

Check out Casey’s other work at