2020 has been a year of change because of the pandemic. Yet, in spite of lockdowns that restricted creative production, brands were able to create unforgettable stories.
In fact, these limitations have challenged brands to push the boundaries of storytelling on YouTube, resulting in a wealth of short- and long-form video narratives that resonated deeply with audiences.
To celebrate these bold and brilliant campaigns that told authentic stories in fresh, creative ways, we launched the inaugural YouTube Works awards in the Philippines. The winning campaigns showcase how brands can captivate people and generate business impact.
Here, we highlight key learnings from these YouTube success stories to inspire other brands to take their creative storytelling further and drive results.
1. Taking bold, creative risks can pay off for less dominant brands
For brands with a modest marketing budget, being disruptive and bold can often help them stand out. Soda brand RC Cola, which has had to compete with dominant global brands, decided to go big (and a little absurd) in its video ad.
RC Cola’s Basta campaign steered clear of the typical comedic story arcs and punchlines that Filipino audiences are used to. Instead, its bizarre story of a boy teased for being different pushed the boundaries of Pinoy humor with its absurdist take. What starts out as a sentimental story ends with the boy’s mother removing her head to reveal that she is made of RC Cola.
At a time when it would seem sensible for a small brand with a tight budget to play it safe, RC Cola chose to make a gutsy, experimental move in its video marketing strategy. The campaign earned RC Cola the favor of the Gen Z audience, which made up a sizable segment of viewers who engaged with the video and boosted its sales by 63%.
2. Keep viewers coming back with episodic content
Amid the indefinite lockdowns that have kept people glued to their devices, brands showed a growing interest in content that could keep viewers coming back for more. Half of the entries in YouTube Works Philippines comprised multiple videos and formats with episodic content, all vying for the Best Multi-Video Storytelling award.
Much like television series, these videos were created with a narrative structure that builds on itself, helping to spark curiosity with each snippet.
Mobile business TNT demonstrated astute use of this format with its campaign, Free Games for All, to promote its mobile internet for gaming. Their audience was the Filipino youth whose "barkada" lives ("barkada" is Filipino for group of friends) were shifting online because of lockdowns. TNT tapped into the one thing keeping these friendships alive — mobile gaming — and therefore, the need for better internet connectivity.
Using YouTube as its key channel for brand engagement in an omni-channel campaign, TNT’s episodic ads appealed directly to "barkada" online gamers. The brand’s most engaging campaign in 2020, it drove a 165% increase in revenue compared to the previous year.
But creating episodic content shouldn’t mean blowing out your creative budgets either.
When food delivery was on the rise during lockdowns, Greenwich Pizza saw an 80% revenue dip because it lacked delivery infrastructure.
To get people to visit its stores, the brand had some fun with the bumper ad format. The ads apologized to viewers for interrupting their viewing, then prodded them to visit Greenwich if they were able to leave their homes. And they did it all within six seconds.
For its efforts and exceeding its sales targets, achieving 104% of its goal in spite of initial challenges, the Filipino pizza chain earned a spot among the finalists in the Best Multi-Video Storytelling category.
3. Authentic content helps to build real connections with people
Restricted from social gatherings for over a year, people have yearned for community and human connection. During this time, one thing that has remained consistent on YouTube is people’s demand for content from creators they can relate to.
It’s unsurprising why many people find a connection with content creators. They’re superb at building relationships with their subscribers through their extensive content and human approach. And people take to their authenticity and ability to empathize.
In this year’s entries, we noticed that campaigns that involved content creator collaborations drove impactful results.
Importantly, brands that included collaborators in their campaigns were able to build authentic connections with their audience.
Case in point, the Lucky Me Pinakahihintay NaThin campaign tapped into the popularity of the creator Mimiyuuuh — a funny, over-the-top personality with over four million subscribers.
After years of backlash for changing the consistency of their noodles, Lucky Me reverted to the original thin noodles, which are much-loved and preferred by the locals. To raise awareness, the brand created a light-hearted campaign led by Mimiyuuuh, who called out naysayers on social media, challenging them to try the new, improved Lucky Me Pancit Canton.
As a result, Lucky Me saw a lift in purchase intent and brand favorability, achieving a view through rate that was 18% higher than campaigns without creator collaborations and bagged the Best Collaboration award.
Red Horse Beer had a different approach that took a page out of the content creator playbook. The popular Pinoy beer brand, which won the Best Brand Channel category, created the Red Horse Lakas-Tama channel as part of its rebranding efforts. The brand looked beyond product marketing to create content people could share a beer over — online concerts, variety show sketches, and entertainment-led brand content.
The strategy was a resounding success. Its subscriber base grew 2X from 26,000 in October 2019 to 54,000 in 2020, and the YouTube channel scored 3.4 million views in 2020. The channel continues to grow, with a subscriber base that now stands at more than 87,000.
4. Brands with purpose can drive impact in times of uncertainty
In times of uncertainty, when people are looking for some assurance and stability, the brands that continue to make an impact are those that support the community in spite of their own business challenges. Among the award entries, campaigns with a social cause or social advocacy achieved the strongest brand associations.
P&G’s online film, A Frontliner’s Sacrifice, revealed the sacrifices made by Filipino health care workers as they served the public — often at the expense of seeing family. The touching campaign from the consumer goods brand exceeded expectations in organic views in the first three days. Close to 100 celebrities also voluntarily shared the film with followers, increasing P&G’s Corporate’s share of voice.
Setting another example in brand purpose campaigns is the local telecommunications company, Globe Telecom. The brand’s heart-warming campaign, A Star Wars Experience for All, showcased the company’s support of persons with disabilities. In the endearing online film, two young boys create a special viewing experience of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker for their deaf friend — complete with cute homemade special effects.
Typically, we see purpose campaigns reaping the full fruits of their efforts in the medium to long term. However, campaigns like these can drive a positive impact immediately and bolster brand building efforts as businesses start to recover.
Campaign results, as brand-led subscriber studies show
The untapped potential of personalization
Knowing how to personalize campaigns at scale could further bolster a brand’s competitive edge. To reach out to people with unique viewership preferences, brands need to master personalization at scale.
Although there were many good attempts at this year’s YouTube Works Philippines, the Best Personalization prize went unclaimed.
However, there’s good reason for brands in the Philippines to hone their campaign personalization skills. Globally, we’re seeing massive shifts in digital video viewership, preferences, with people demanding a mix of popular and personal content. To cater to varied audience preferences, brands need to perform contextual targeting to serve the right creatives to the right audiences.
Campaign personalization has worked well in other markets. A great example of this is the M&M’s Messages campaign, which took the Media Innovation award in this year’s YouTube Works in the U.S. Leveraging the love for shareable memes, the campaign saw more than 50 unique and witty M&M’s messages delivered in real time, according to trending topics and cultural moments. The campaign’s YouTube content achieved 18 million impressions, and M&M’s enjoyed a 22% sales growth for its stand-up pouches.
There is untapped potential for brands in the Philippines to unlock the power of personalization in their campaigns.
The brand that can do that will no doubt stride ahead of the competition — and perhaps snag the Best Personalization award next year.
Find out more about the brands that won big in the first YouTube Works awards in the Philippines.
Contributors: Peach Natividad, Creative Development Lead; Jolly Estaris, Video and Media Sales Lead; Gabby Roxas, Head of Marketing; Mervin Teo Wenke, Communications and Public Affairs Manager