Dr. Who BBC America Campaign: I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

As Hannibal used to say on A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

I love it when a (integrated media) plan comes together.

One of the most rewarding things about participating in online-video campaigns for big brands or network shows is seeing these launch simultaneously with television and print advertisements. We call it “integrated marketing,” and it’s easy in concept and difficult but wonderful in fruition. Okay, I like the payments better, but integrated marketing is still rare enough to be a pleasant surprise… especially when it involves “new media” and social. Of course, it’s difficult for a marketer or agency to time precisely a campaign’s “peak” in various mediums, given paid “insertion orders” (formal booking of space in media) often requires months of lead time. Likewise the “books” (magazines) can require months of advance notice.

I noticed that our YouTube GE Healthymagination campaign was timed well with a series of television spots, and most recently I’ve seen it on BBC America’s launch of Dr. Who (my video below was titled “Time Travel Fail, “What Year Do You Miss,” and “What Would You Do if You Had a Time Machine?” (thanks munchvids for the video response… it’s sad that those don’t get more real estate when the video plays).

The YouTube videos included time-travel themed videos, and included branded ads for Dr. Who

I wasn’t the only part of this campaign, and I’m writing this without any inside knowledge of the agency, budget, timing or execution. Hats of to MysteryGuitarman for this epic video that was also part of the campaign. I’m especially impressed that he found a “rotary pay phone” and managed to add a LED screen. And Joe, it’s making me crazy that you’ve managed to multiply yourself with better special effects than I see in most movies (Freaky Friday, Multiplicity). Vsauce’s video actually made me think, and TheStation participated with “Waiter Takes Out Restaurant.” Check out the whole series (a link to YouTube videos tagged ifIHadaTimemachine, then ranked by views).

The very week these YouTube videos launched, I noticed a prime print advertisement in Entertainment Weekly, a NYC “out of home” component,” and some “earned” media uptake (PR). Furthermore, the YouTube “branded entertainment” video series were wrapped with display and InVideo ads.

I like these “organic” YouTube campaigns that don’t force the brand in the webstar’s videos, but let the creator carry the campaign theme in their own way. The comments I’ve read are largely positive (a contrast from campaigns that require sponsored YouTube videos to have a branded slate at the intro, which is so forceful as to scare people away).

What can producers, networks, agencies and YouTube do to make these campaigns work even harder? A few ideas, but they all have executional nuances so it’s a bit unfair for me to “Monday morning quarterback.” Again- I know nothing more than what I’ve seen as a Dr. Who fan (and the very simple directions got via YouTube to make my video).

  1. Cross-link the videos so Dr. Who fans (I know you’re out there because many of you noticed the picture on my son Charlie’s shirt) would be able to move through them without having to leave YouTube (only a few percent of people leave a YouTube session for an ad, and that’s when there’s a strong reason).
  2. I would suggest the digital agency also run paid-search ads for related keywords (even though I doubt there are loads of people searching “time machine” and “ifihadatimemachine” the cost of that inventory would be minimal). I’d certainly be buying ads for those people searching for “Dr Who, BBC America” and related terms, which would help get more eyes on the campaign website: “TimeMachineTales.” Buzz drives search, and it’s a shame to see Amazon books rank higher than the 2011 version of the timeless show.
  3. Take advantage of YouTube’s “live” programming to augment the April 23 premier with something real time (perhaps one of the webstars watches the debut and invites interaction with fellow fans). If MysteryGuitarMan said he was going live on YouTube on the evening of April 23, I imagine hundreds of thousand would follow.
  4. Recognize that the YouTube aspect of the campaign is valuable far beyond the campaign. For instance, my Fringe promotions have accumulated significant views long after the debut. There’s a perpetual nature to these programs. As Hitviews CEO Walter Sabo says, “Campaign Duration: Forever.” The 105 videos his company has delivered for brands have accumulated in excess of 30 million views.
  5. Finally the real way to “break the fourth wall” is to allow a television show’s cast to interact and collaborate with prominent YouTube creators. This can be difficult, but possible. In the case of my “Meet the Fringe Cast” video, I simply learned the cast was at ComicCon, and I convinced the sponsor (Fox) to allow me the same access the network/producers gave to professional media. In another example, we saw V’s “Anna” (Morena Baccarin) appear on YouTube’s homepage with a custom message for YouTubers, and that was a “bar raising” move. Now imagine iJustine mingling with Mark Sheppard, which would carry as much weight as a local media tour to promote the show. iCarly’s Freddy Benson (Nathan Cress) met with YouTube’s prolific “ShayCarl/Shaytards” in a casual meeting that I would have paid to facilitate if I was Cress’ manager or iCarly’s promoter.
  6. Lastly, and this is really difficult, it would be great to find ways to permit clips from the show intermixed with the YouTube videos. For very good reasons this is rare. Often the network promoting the show doesn’t have the rights to use the content in promotion. The benefit, however, is you can give people a contextual teaser of the show’s actual content… as I did with “Fringe is Scary.” These clips were approved by the producer (JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot) for use with media, and I even snuck in some very tiny snippets beyond those in the media library.
IF I HAD A TIME MACHINE hosts tweets and videos related to the campaign

I’m sure it was not part of the campaign that Elisabeth Sladen died this week (she’s the British actress who played intrepid investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith throughout the classic BBC series’ 30-year run). But only one Guy calls those shots, and he’s not much of a marketer (thank God).

“Viral Video is Dead” Echos in Canada & Beyond

Nalts speaking in Toronto

If there’s one thing more fun than speaking to hundreds of marketers before a giant video of yourself like a “Rolling Stones” concert, it’s to read Twitter “tweets” after you speak.

By searching #mweek and @nalts after my talk on Wednesday, I learned what “stuck” with the Toronto “Canadian Marketing Association” audience. Canadians are nice, and apparently quite addicted to Twitter. They surprised me by almost making me sound intelligent in the quotes they shared.

Here are two of the things people most RT’d (aka retweeted, which here means posting on Twitter or sharing someone else’s Twitter post).

  • Viral is dead.
  • An impression isn’t an impression unless it makes one (see TechVibes coverage).

Marketing Magazine led with this article titled “Marketing Week Begins with ‘Viral is Dead’ Declaration.” IT Business was struck that a “viral is dead” statement woud come from “a person who owes his fame and fortune to tons of viewers on YouTube.” Then there’s the Canadian Star, which captured one of the most important points I hoped to make:

But advertisers don’t have to spend millions making YouTube videos, like the Evian Roller Babies, in hopes they go viral, Nalty said. The ad features digitally animated babies rollerskating to rock music. Instead, they can use existing YouTube stars, like Fred Figglehorn, the teenager with the annoying high-pitched voice and the online following bigger than Oprah’s TV audience, Nalty said. Fred makes a six-figure income from advertisers on his YouTube posts, Nalty said.

Certainly there’s a robust future of incredible clips that will gain “viral” fame. But my point was that marketers should not waste time and money investing in clips with hope that they go “viral.” It’s rare for a commercial clip to be shared wildly, although Evian’s babies is a recent exception.

Instead, I encourage marketers to chose the more efficient and guaranteed approach of partnering with online-video weblebrities. These individuals have large, recurring audiences and fans. So their sponsored videos are far more likely to travel the web and be seen by millions. I showed the Hitviews case study on Fox Broadcasting as proof. Two of my Fox videos alone have surpassed 1 million views each, which was half the targeted views of the campaign (for “Fringe” and “Lie to Me”).

I was encouraged to speak with a number of creative directors (or former creator directors) that seemed excited about the prospects. I had feared that they’d feel threatened by an online-video “weblebrity” creating videos that aren’t as easy to control. But they seemed to appreciate the idea of giving a popular creator a creative brief, and some room to tailor the message to his/her audience and style.

Here’s the deck, though most won’t make sense without context. Steal away. Spread the word.

But remember two things above all. US/Canada border guards require passports, and don’t care to be videotaped even if it’s on a Hello Kitty Flipcam. Trust me on those.

New Intro to Simpsons

It’s the new opening to The Simpsons, and it’s spreading like wildfire according to Viral Video Chart. And if you’re a Simpsons fan, you can get lots of DVDs at your local Circuit City for 40% off. I passed on them, because I can’t watch the show in my house without the kids gathering. 

What do you think? Too similar to the original? Do you love the original too much to accept a change?

Maybe Online Video Isn’t Just Staging Area for Wanna-Be Media Stars?

Michael Buckley: Media WhoreI found this quote interesting, as Liz Stowasky of the “Point Click and Go” show on Fox.com interviewed Michael Buckley (see video) from the WhatTheBuckShow. Stowasky asked Buckley about his plans for the future:

“It’s so funny because whenever I do interviews they always seem disappointed when I kinda say I’m happy where I’m at. They definitely want to hear ‘oh, I am aspiring to much more.'” … Sure if E called and wanted to give me a half-hour show… that would be great. My biggest fear is they’re going to censor me… and they’re going to be ‘don’t say this or do say this, or take it down a notch or don’t be so gay or whatever.”

Hmmm. Downsides to “crossing over.” Someone telling us not to be so gay.

One thing we sometimes forget is the tremendous creative freedom we have as online-video creators. No studios to please. No sponsors to patronize (unless we choose). No script review or censorship. Just us and our audiences.

I suspect that Will Ferrell’s motivation for FunnyOrDie was about having that freedom, and not on getting rich via the web. After all, Ferrell already has enough money to buy Buckley and make him his $4,000-a-date Spitzer gimp.

Speaking of Spitzer, how come nobody’s done a “Spitzer throws puppy from a cliff” video yet?