When you're staring down the barrel of a brand-launch, and "this has to work" is cycling over, and over, and over....and over....it can be hard to take a chance. After all, "has to" doesn't imply risk...It doesn't imply that failure is an option...it doesn't invite anything but an ironclad approach.
Now, do not think for a second that an iron-clad approach can't bring great success. It most definitely can, and does. BUT--when you have two nickels to rub together, and one has to build products and the other one has to create a compelling video or film to market that product, with no nickel left to buy or place media...you need a marketing miracle. Today that marketing miracle is shareability. How do you make a video shareable? Answer: make something people find hilarious/courageous/inspiring enough to share with everyone they know. What do all of those things (hilarious/courageous/inspiring) have in common? They are all subjective. i.e. What is hilarious to me, is not to you--and so on...
So now, we know that we need this thing to catch fire, and we know that the only way to do that is by being extremely hilarious/courageous/inspiring. Now, how do we DO that? Here's how:
#1: Target a market, whether you want to or not.
Remember when I said what's funny to me might not be funny to you? Well, the same is true of different people-groups. So, you HAVE to commit to one. If you don't, every attempt you make at being hilarious/courageous/inspiring will be blunted by your re-writing, and re-writing to ensure that this group or that group will find it funny. Do you know what you're left with? A lukewarm cup of s@%t--or, one of Adam Sandler's last 5 (maybe ten...) movies. Nothing special, maybe a chuckle here or there. You DO NOT tell your friends to watch it, or even admit to watching it yourself. Share ability, sunk. Pick a group (maybe 28-35 year-old professionals, maybe 30-40 year-old homemakers, maybe 20 year-old stoners), and commit to their brand of humor, courage or inspiration. You might feel like you're alienating the others--and, you probably will temporarily. The next campaign can be about them, or maybe, they will sink into this humor by osmotic pressure of their younger or older friends enjoying it so much. Either way, commit or die.
#2: Find your pathway (hilarious/courageous/inspiring) via your brand
What kind of brand do you have? Is it a lifestyle brand? Are you a tailor-by-mail? Are you a bank? These three will have different goals, values and offerings. They would not all fit into a single approach.
Does your brand benefit from looking clever, or inspiring, or courageous? That is a big question, deserving of some contemplation.
#3: Don't try to do too much / Don't get greedy
Comedy: Laughter is the spice of life. It is a tremendously powerful tool to engage and communicate to a viewer. But, laughs are cheap and they're fleeting. On top of that, the comedy market is flooded with amazingly funny people and content--the bar is high. Hey, that's okay. We can do high bars. We just plant our feet, launch as hard as we can, and sneak our way over that bar. Here's what we can't do--that, while bearing the weight of your other 6 bullet points you want to force into the jokes. The funny comes from integrating your highest objective into a clever situation or juxtaposition. And, just because that worked, doesn't mean that you should inject a bunch of features in once you think you've got em "hooked". Commit to being entertaining, not informative. You might be able to slide in a feature, but don't get greedy, or you'll kill it. I can already hear 1,700 marketing directors saying "Well, I think you can accomplish both if you...". NO! Shut up! Just...shut up.
Courage: Let's take all of the lessons we learned above and apply them here. Once you've found a story that works, implement your most valued item from your marketing to do's. Don’t get greedy. You'll kill it.
Inspiration: Again, all the same rules apply. People love to. nay, need to be inspired. They will eat this up. Just don’t remind them that your selling to them. K.I.S.S. Keep It Subtle, Stupid
#4: Be Honest
Look, if you've read this far you already know this. Shareable advertising doesn't work if you don't keep it honest.
Need to be brutally honest? Try funny--it's a great avenue to say "I want you to buy this, so I and my company can grow richer and richer and eventually take over the world."
On the other side, a hero-tale about losing your vision and learning to paint by feel is powerful--but it will feel hollow, and likely not translate to brand support or recognition if the brand has a goofy logo, or a "play on words" name. Maybe that's a bad example, but your intentions and your message have to make sense with the identity of your brand, its mission and even as simply as its look.
You want a miracle, take a risk.
With comedy, it's an obvious one of gags that are "on the line" OR BETTER YET, "over the line."
With courage, it's something that some find extremely courageous, and some don't really see it.
And with inspiration, some will adore it and use it as a mantra for a time, and some will think it's sappy BS.
Whatever your route--focus, commit, don't get greedy, stay honest and take a risk.