Jessica & Randall Hughes
Viscul / Fork & Lens
The Viscul Team
Quote from Jessica Hughes
“And if you’re unsure of yourself this is where partnering with an agency is really important because they’re the ones that know the industry and they can advise you of the best options for your brand. And they also bring a level of creativity and perspective that you might otherwise overlook.”
Jessica Hughes: (00:00): Video is dominating our newsfeeds, social media outlets, and let’s face it, all of our entertainment options. So as people are consuming more media, it’s even more important that businesses utilize video as part of their marketing strategy. Why, you ask? Well, because humans are visual creatures and our brains remember about 95% of the information presented visually, as opposed to remembering just the 10% of information that we read. So, how do we get there in terms of building trust within a brand space by connecting consumers to products with story and inspiration?
Welcome to the Fork & Lens podcast, brought to you by Viscul. Oh, smells delish.
Today I have the team with me and, we are going to be talking about timeless best practices and trends that we can’t ignore with video, and some of the common questions that come out of our video discovery sessions with clients.
So let’s talk about timeless best practices. Why is it so important to be clear and simple with messaging to make things effective, guys?
Meagan Blasdell Blasedell (01:18): I guess I’ll get started with this. So, I see it all the time with brands, especially local or regional brands, where maybe they don’t have a marketing team or they don’t have the budget and they just try to cram as much information into a video, or an element or a website, or something as they possibly can, they try to get that bang for their buck. And that’s where just nice, simple, clear messaging is really important. And I think it’s much easier said than done. I think it comes as a given, but once you really get into the weeds of the project, I think some brands just try to do way too much.
Randall Hughes (02:02): Yeah. I would agree with that. We’ve seen that so many times and then you see something that’s so simple and so direct and you’re like, “Man, I wish we could have done that,” or, “That’s what the client really needed in that moment.” But then you look at what happened and they jammed all the features in there, in our case, the flavor profiles and different things that you can get out of the product instead of just harnessing in and focusing on that one thing, that, in that moment, made it unique. And it just got a little convoluted.
Jay Basinger (02:31): Yeah, even sometimes when they, to the point of listing everything out when they even want to cram it in with just words on the screen, I feel like, more times than not, doesn’t work in my opinion. But, if done well, obviously, but it can really cheapen a video, and it’s just another way of making it cluttered.
Tyler Gladhill (02:54): Yeah and I think you got to take into account people’s attention span, I think you have to get information out there in front of them fairly quickly, if there’s any sort of confusion or second guessing, I think people would just literally brush it off or overlook something. So I think the least words possible, I find really appealing. I like to get information instantly. If I have to search for it, I feel that’s where we run into issues.
Randall Hughes (03:18): I also feel like, it’s not always that it has to be super simple in the sense of the information or getting it up front, I should say. I think you can continue to build story and you can do something that’s interesting and is appealing to the people watching. But at the end of the day, when you get down to, what the spot needs to do, it should be super clear and concise. But again, it doesn’t mean that you can’t story-tell or, try to consume the audience a little bit more before you get to that point. As long as it all ties together really clean.
Jessica Hughes (03:50): So why is story so important? I mean, obviously we need to keep things clear and simple, but if there isn’t a story, are we missing something?
Jay Basinger (03:59): Yeah, I don’t think people want to be sold to as much anymore, especially with social media being, a free for all, sort of become accustomed to wanting everything to just feel real and… a part of your timelines, not really jumping out at you like they’re [inaudible 00:04:18] trying to get you to do something you don’t want to.
Meagan Blasdell (04:17): I think connectivity is a big part of that too. It stories the way that gives you kind of personal connection to a brand or an item, or a product or a service. And without that connection, I think it’s just harder to get people on board.
Randall Hughes (04:37): Yeah, we recently looked at the Apple Slofie campaign, and I mean, that’s such a simple thing where they could have gone into every detail of every piece of what the phone can do for you, but they decided to focus on one thing that maybe isn’t even hitting that big of an audience for them, but it’s showcasing one thing. And because they did it so cleverly, it worked.
Carolina Fudala (05:01): And they did the classic thing of show, don’t tell, where they did show off all of the news specifics that were out with the phone, they just didn’t write it on the screen or… it was pretty subtle. It was still clear and simple.
Jessica Hughes (05:17): All right. So we got a clear, simple story that may or may not drive an emotional response. So a lot of the times, obviously with video, we’re looking for a call to action. It is a sales tool, it’s a marketing tool. So how do you integrate the call to action? What’s its purpose? What are some examples that we can give our listeners?
Jay Basinger (05:39): Yeah I think just showing, how it’s working within the story should probably be showing how it would help you then as well, without having to, again, hit you over the head with it and say like, “If you try it, you’ll look and feel just like this person.” It’s more like you’ll relate to that person or the subject of the story and then, subconsciously you almost start to believe in the product without them having to trick you into it.
Randall Hughes (06:04): Yeah that’s why I firmly believe in talking to your audience specifically, knowing who your target audiences and speaking to them, because it doesn’t need to be a hard sell if you’re solving a problem that they have. As soon as they see it and they say, “That’s it. I got to have it.” You don’t really need that hard push. I think it’s always important to showcase how you get something in many ways. We’re not all Apple, you can’t just go to the website and call it up or go down to Best Buy or wherever you want to get something. But, showcasing a little bit more about how, if it is order online, make sure it’s a link that’s included with the video or something that. That can be helpful.
Jessica Hughes (06:42): Okay, so we’re going to do a quick round here, and I’m just going to say something versus other things. So sound versus no sound. It’s a trend. Why should it work for both?
Jay Basinger (06:54): Well, I guess cause we look at our phones at all times, so there’s bound to be times and you can’t keep having the sound on.
Meagan Blasdell (07:01): Yeah I think we’re just so busy. We as people are just so busy, I mean, if I would document the time that I look at my phone, it’s when I’m standing in line somewhere, or I’m taking a break from work, or I’m in a waiting room somewhere and it would be considered rude to have the sound on at that point. So, if I wanted to actually look at the content that I’m seeing, that’s coming up on my feed, it’s got to be soundless.
Randall Hughes (07:29): Yeah, I’m a classic, watch it with no sound, save it so I can watch it later with sound, but then never go back to it again. So, I think it’s one of those. Things do have to work without sound, but, I personally don’t think it needs to be expected that everything is going to work without sound and in every market. I mean, I think there’s comes a time where people are accustomed to missing information because they’re watching without sound, and it’s up to that person to go back and do it. Cause I think you run the risk of a client saying, “Okay, well if there isn’t going to be sound or if that’s the statistic, then I want to put every word of it on screen,” which can also be a challenge. Not that I’m opposed to captions. If you have something where somebody’s speaking on camera, throw captions in there, do it in a creative way. That can be an interesting thing to do. But, I’m kind of on the fence about it.
Meagan Blasdell (08:19): I think it totally goes back to who your audience is and what platform you’re going to be on. I mean, if it’s social, you almost have to be, but obviously if it’s broadcast, there’s different rules there.
Jessica Hughes (08:30): And there’s something important about that, because one of my biggest pet peeves is when I’m on Instagram, and then I see someone’s posts and then I go over to Facebook and it’s literally the same exact post verbatim, to the point that the person that they tagged, it’s their Instagram handle and they didn’t even change out the name. So I think it’s very important to remember to put out content that is made for that specific platform. It doesn’t have to be matchy, matchy, matchy.
Jessica Hughes (08:57): All right. So, we accomplished sound versus no sound. How about traditional production practices versus embracing the whole mobile responsiveness vertical video platform? Should businesses be getting on board with this?
Randall Hughes (09:11): Yes. I think they have to. There’s different ways you can get around it. You can tell people to turn the phone sideways or something if you want them to do that. But if you’re talking about Quibi or these newer platforms, it’s built around these different things. Turning your phones and seeing more of a landscape, or then flipping it up vertical and seeing that view. So I think it’s really important for people to embrace that. It definitely comes with challenges from our perspective. I mean, we shoot video all the time so, you have to think ahead of time about how you’re going to use that. Shooting high resolution and cropping in, or am I going to shoot it vertical, and we’re just not going to have a horizontal? If that’s the case, then you’re really committing to it.
So, there’s so many ways you can look at it, but I definitely think people need to embrace it and figure out how to transition things. So, like Jess said from platform to platform, because they’re all going to be slightly different. And how can you make that work better?
Meagan Blasdell (10:08): Yeah. I remember back when I was in film school 10-ish years ago, and I remember making fun of the term VVS syndrome, I don’t know if anybody else had experienced that. It was the vertical video syndrome, where we would always make fun of people who videoed stuff with their phone like this, rather than horizontal. And now it’s just something that is so vitally important, and it’s funny how quick that can change. And it’s almost to the point where it’s like you got to get on board to stay relevant.
Carolina Fudala (10:39): Yeah I think it took a while for people to adapt and change. I know I definitely made fun of people for taking photos, with their phones like this. Cause obviously you get more [inaudible 00:10:49] whatever. I’ve been seeing, I think filmmakers just over time, the people I follow have been shooting a lot wider, like the DPs I follow. Shooting way wider and finding more full-frame cameras. And I don’t know, I don’t have any stats on that, but it’s just something I’ve noticed, because we’re cropping in and we’re having to cut things square and three fourths and, nine 16 and everything.
Tyler Gladhill (11:19): Yeah it’s got to be a editing nightmare, right? Finding [inaudible 00:11:24] work for all those different frame sizes, I think is tricky for the video team as well. When you’re shooting these things, thinking about getting everything to work in a square, and then vertical and horizontal. So I think that brings up challenges too, it has to. Not that I have any experience with it, but it has to.
Carolina Fudala (11:41): It makes you want to shoot wider so that you make sure [crosstalk 00:11:43].
Jay Basinger (11:42): I think it is one of those constraints that’s going to lead to interesting stuff though, and I think, speaking of Quibi, that’s what out at me initially was, how they can flip between vertical and horizontal so quick. And that just seemed like a whole new tactic, whether or not it catches on. I think it will, but, I think it’s just an interesting restraint that it actually forces you to think differently, which I think can only be good in the long run.
Randall Hughes (12:18): Yeah, my take on it at the end of the day is, we all came from watching TV, so TVs were always horizontal, and then you got your phone and you could flip it sideways. It’s one of those funny things where, the beauty of the way the phones and things are set up now is it’s whatever the holder of the phone wants to do. And, the more the stats come out and say that people aren’t turning their phone sideways or whatever, that’s where these things are starting to come up more. I’m of the case, I love watching everything horizontal. So then it was really annoying to me whenever I flip it sideways and I only have a vertical option, and then it’s really small in the middle of screen. But that’s me, and that’s what’s crazy about today’s society, is there’s so many different options and things that you have to be flexible enough to provide the content in whatever way the viewer’s going to want to see it.
Meagan Blasdell (13:03): And not to tie this back, so poetically to what we talked about before, is just knowing your audience and knowing what platforms you’re going to put your content on. It’s so vitally important to know that going in, cause it’s so difficult to take something that was shot for one other reason, and turn it into something else.
Jessica Hughes (13:20): All right. So let’s move into some commonly asked questions during the discovery process that we usually go through with clients. And some of these I think are stemming out of conversations that we’ve had with clients on the back end when we’ve done market research, and eye tracking and different tests that organizations run on their content, whether it’s on television or online, to test what’s working, what’s not based on consumer reactions to the videos. So first and foremost, and I know this is a loaded question because we argue about this all the time, but what about logo placement? When should a logo show up in a video?
Meagan Blasdell (14:04): I don’t even know where to start.
Randall Hughes (14:09): I think it should show up where it makes the most sense in the storyline that you’re trying to give. If you have this mentality that it needs to be in the first three seconds or something so you can gain the audience attention, that might be the first thing that’s going to make their attention stray. They might be getting consumed in something, and they’re like, “Oh, this is from a brand. I’m done.” Whereas you could have caught them, and made them watch. The hard part about that is combating stats where they say, “okay, somebody saw my logo and, because it was in the first three seconds, that might be the only three seconds they got to, but at least they saw the logo.” So then you have to combat that, when you’re speaking to the audience or wherever you are in your organization. If you’re talking to the VP of marketing or something about this, it can be a challenge. But, I think, just getting it into the storyline where it makes sense and where it has the biggest impact is, to me, the best place then for the logo. Can be a little bit challenging if you’re running a series or a campaign like that, and, the storylines are slightly different. But you want to maintain consistency throughout. Overall, that’s my take.
Meagan Blasdell (15:15): I agree with that, I love a good organic logo placement, one that makes sense. I also think it shows brand confidence too, so that you’re not so eager to show everything right away at the same time. But again, there’s always an exception to every rule, and sometimes it calls for an earlier or later placement.
Jessica Hughes (15:33): Yeah I’m trying to think of a good example of that. There was a campaign that came out a few years ago by American Express, that did a really good storyline of, it was a small business and they went through a dialogue and they went through this person’s retail shop, and you saw the American Express logo on the point of sale terminal. And that’s where you, they brought in the brand, and it felt very organic. It was well-placed within the storyline, it wasn’t front and center at the very beginning, but it felt like it was a natural place to put it, instead of just like right dead center, like, “We are American Express.” And they continued on with this story. And it showed up a few other times, very organically like that. And then came the call to action, the reveal moment of, “We’re American Express, and we work with small businesses,” or whatever the line was. You get the gist.
Tyler Gladhill (16:27): I get that subtleness, but as the logo designer, if I’m sitting in that meeting, I’m saying, “Give me a good three solid seconds of [crosstalk 00:16:35]. And then let me come in through the side and stick my head in the screen.”
Jessica Hughes (16:41): I’ll give you that solid three seconds at the end, Tyler.
Tyler Gladhill (16:46): Yeah, no. No I know what you mean, I do like the subtle approach though as well. But sorry, go ahead, Meagan Blasdell.
Meagan Blasdell (16:51): Oh I was just going to kind of agree with Jess, but then also you as well, cause since you interjected. But yeah, I think that having your logo a part of the call to action is, totally key. I think that that’s definitely where you need to live with your logo. If not before that organically, you definitely have to be there at the end.
Randall Hughes (17:10): Yeah. I can even remember a good example of this, gosh, it must’ve been 15 years ago that I think it was Nike that did these commercials that had nothing to do with Nike at all. In fact, to this day, I have no clue what the commercials were about, but I remember the buzz around them because, there was nothing going on, and then all of a sudden they just put their logo at the very end as this kind of hit. And even though you had no clue what the commercial was about, it’s still intrigued you. It almost made you so intrigued that you wanted to go find out what was going on.
So I think even something like that can be powerful. It’s the element of surprise a little bit, can also play a big role in this. To Tyler Gladhill’s point though, I think it’s really important. It’s not just about time onscreen, how long the logo’s on there, but it’s the impact of the logo when it does hit. A logo is just a logo. Nothing against design. We’re designers, we love design and a logo can be very impactful, but even if it’s just the word, the name of the company, it can have a really strong impact by putting it in the right place and having it hit at the right time. Again, like I said, where it really falls into the storyline and makes you need it in that moment. So a well designed logo is just going to make it more memorable.
Jessica Hughes (18:20): Okay, so speaking of length and the amount of time something is on screen, let’s talk about the length of the video. Another loaded question. So let’s talk short firm or, short, I can’t talk today. Let’s talk short form versus long form, and then we’ll break it out into the usual segments that we see as requests for media purchasing purposes.
Randall Hughes (18:49): I’m all for having things build. Six seconds is fine, but if you’re pulling it out of a 30 second, just to make a six second, I don’t think that always makes sense. But I love the idea of a six second, almost being a teaser for something, or having a purpose that’s going to draw you to the next thing. It’s not just the cliff notes for the 30 second, it actually pulls you in and wants you to see more. Six seconds in general can be really hard, 15 to 30 seconds, I think you can, you can do those teasers a little bit more that’s going to draw you to a longer form content. It might take you up to a one to two minute or even, hopefully as we start to do more long form things, you’re getting into the 10 to 12, kind of the short segment of things. Six seconds can be pretty tough because you’re not getting much information in there, you’re just kind of showcasing something. But if you can showcase a product or something that, again, it just gives you that little bit of relevance to what other contents out there that they can get, I think it draws people up the line.
Meagan Blasdell (19:50): Yeah. I think that that’s a very textbook approach to it too. And obviously very logical. I think that once you get into long form videos, and I’m saying anything over one to three minutes. To appeal to those audiences, you already have to have a following. If I’m going to invest my time, three, four, 16 minutes, how ever long, I am typically already on board. But if I’m interested or curious, I think that that 15 to 30 seconds is kind of where it’s at, at least as far as your selling point or you’re sparking your interest, or that sort of thing.
Jessica Hughes (20:27): I have to agree with you. And I think YETI does a really great job with that. Their long form stuff is spot on, but they do a really good job of pulling clips out of a long form to entice people, and meet them where they’re at in that customer journey. Maybe they’re not completely on board, but you want to give them a taste of what feeling on board looks like.
Randall Hughes (20:50): They also do a good job of creating other content where, they have extreme storytelling where the product is almost nonexistent in the long form, and even in those clips and things, and they have the other extreme of showcasing everything about the product and running over it with a truck, and having a bear attack it and stuff to really showcase the features of the product. So I think both those things in tandem work really well for their brand.
Jay Basinger (21:15): Yeah. I think it’s really important for the client to really know what they want to say. To blindly just sort of say like, “I want to do a 30, a 10, a six, a five minute version,” but not really have a strategy behind those, doesn’t make any sense. Because you might not even need some of them, depending on who you are, who you’re trying to talk to. So I think, they all are relevant at one time or another. But to just say you need them no matter what, because a stat said you shouldn’t have a six, or a stat says you shouldn’t go over two. If you really think about what you like to watch, it’s such a random bag of just different things, and it’s hard to really pinpoint. So I think the companies that do it really well, like YETI, that we were saying, it shows, and I think it’s a big part of why they’re so popular.
Meagan Blasdell (22:05): And the investment in the product too. Cause if I’m going to make a big investment in something, then I’m going to take a lot more time to research and find out more about the product. Whereas if it’s kind of a less expensive product or maybe an impulse purchase or something, then I want to see something quick and fun and exciting. And I might not look into it as much as I would maybe like one of those big ticket items.
Jay Basinger (22:28): Sort of like a commercial. There is still a world for commercials and the length of a commercial. And I think that’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with that. But I think we are more open to different lengths, more so than I think companies are brave enough to admit.
Carolina Fudala (22:49): Yeah, it all comes back to just knowing who you’re making these for too. But I will say, six seconds is tough. That’s extremely pointed. You have to know exactly what you’re trying to say, like very clearly. And then know who you’re making things for, because as we’ve seen, YouTube content is getting longer and longer every year. It’s not slowing down. But like you were saying Meagan Blasdell before, the people who are watching are already bought in, that’s what they’re here for, that’s what they’re looking for. So just paying attention to that and keeping tabs on what people are into at what time, so important.
Jay Basinger (23:31): That’s a great point about YouTube, because all my kids watch is YouTube. So the idea of having to be somewhere at a certain time to watch something, or dedicating a certain amount of time to watch something is completely out the window. So it’s just like, if somethings 13 minutes, 45 seconds, they would never be able to tell you that. They would just say, “I just watched it, who knows how long it was. I don’t care how long it was.” You know what I mean? It’s just as long as it’s what they set out to find on YouTube, that’s all that matters. As generations get older, I think we’re going to constantly see this shift of just, breaking the boundary of time constraints and stuff to a degree.
Tyler Gladhill (24:09): You know what the longest commercial ever is?
Jay Basinger (24:15): No, what is it?
Tyler Gladhill (24:16): Well I looked it up. It’s a Old Spice deodorant commercial that was 14 hours long, and was aired in Brazil. Think about that.
Randall Hughes (24:31): So there was a Virgin Mobile campaign a couple years ago that they did something, I forget what was. I forgot how long it was exactly. But it had to been four or five hours, because it was a boring flight from New York to LA, and all they did is have these mannequins sitting in a plane, and they’d showed them for four hours. And it was like the most watch buzz thing. It was awesome. I don’t know anybody that sat through it, but I mean, you see 10 seconds, you’ve seen the whole thing. But it’s so interesting that there is no constraint, it doesn’t matter.
Randall Hughes (25:07): But to that point, I think what Jay was saying earlier kind of reminded me. I think one thing, when people are watching YouTube especially, I would venture to say, rarely are they watching something from a brand, where they want to be sold something like we were talking about earlier. Most of the time, they’re watching something of some entertainment or some value to them. That’s what’s keeping them engaged for that 13 minutes, that 15 minutes, 25 minutes, an hour, whatever it is. And I think that’s where brands have a huge opportunity to be in that space, but not be selling the whole time. You can’t make a 10 minute thing about selling, it has to be an extreme piece of authentic storytelling or education in some manner and something that they want to get into. I think about Lowe’s, does an okay job of putting content out there about, they have somebody on that’s building something or doing something, and they’re showing what their people need to see. So they’re using the platform as a resource for their customers, not a place to sell everything.
Carolina Fudala (26:07): Yeah. Or they outsource their ads to the people and say, “We like the way that you talk, can you make a commercial in your own style and in your own voice and talk about this to your audience?” And YouTube’s funny, because it gets kind of a weird rap cause, anyone can be on there and make anything. But, I honestly feel like YouTube is pushing us in our storytelling so much, because people have to get more and more innovative all the time, because everyone’s on there. It gets really competitive, and everybody wants to say their story, they want you to listen to their story for their passion or their livelihood or their whatever. And I think it’s important to keep tabs on that too, cause there’s so many different styles now that are evolving, and it’s going to impact our industry, for sure.
Jay Basinger (26:52): I’m a big proponent of brands attaching themselves to entertainment, and letting that be as impactful as what they think they need to do, which is usually just saying all their bullet points or, trying to convince you of why their product’s so good. I think if you sneak it in the back door by saying, “I just entertained you. And by the way, I’m the one that provided this for you.” That kind of sticks with the people more maybe, than just being jammed down their throats all the time by logos, back to the logo debate.
Jessica Hughes (27:27): I think though that we would all agree that, really at the end of the day, it’s about understanding your audience, it’s about being strategic and intentional with your messaging, making sure you have a purpose in the story that you’re trying to tell. And, obviously at the end of the day, it’s about generating the exposure that you’re looking for to the appropriate outlets, and the appropriate audiences that you’re targeting. So I think if we had to sum our conversation up, I think that’s how I would sum it up, in the essence of there are different applications, yes. Certain things work for certain audiences, other things work better for other audiences. And you have to understand who you’re targeting and where they are in that customer journey and how involved they are with the brand. And then honestly, yes, YouTube’s becoming a big thing, but, if you’re unsure of yourself, this is where partnering with an agency is really important, because they’re the ones that know the industry and they can advise you of the best options for your brand. And they also bring a level of creativity and perspective that you might otherwise overlook.
And I think that’s really important to note too. I can’t tell you how many times someone comes to us with a concept and we’re like, “Okay, that’s a great start, but let’s tweak this, tweak that to make sure it’s going to fit in this time allotment,” or, “Make sure we’re driving the story home in a way that feels genuine and authentic, and it doesn’t feel salesy.” Or whatever it is. And so, if you’re feeling unsure of yourself, I’m sure a lot of creatives, a lot of agencies are willing to talk through that with you and, find some options that are mutually beneficial.
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