It might sound counterintuitive, but for brands looking to stand out from the crowd, sometimes the best thing to do is blend in: to look at the type of content people are already gravitating toward on a given platform and incorporate those flavors into your marketing campaign.
On YouTube, music is among the most popular types of content. In fact, more than one billion music fans come to YouTube each month to be part of music culture and discover new songs. That explains why some brands are going beyond the tried-and-tested jingle and are instead creating full-blown music videos. We spoke with three such brands to find out how they did it.
Engage viewers with interactive elements
You might think people are just listening to music content on YouTube. But if a recent ad from expense management company Expensify is anything to go by, that’s not the case. To date, over 12 million people have watched the four-minute brand music video that doubled as an interactive product demo.
“We wanted to give people a reason to try the product. We thought, ‘What if we did a music video?’ You wouldn’t expect an expense management company to do that,” said Joanie Wang, head of marketing at Expensify.
The ad was released in conjunction with this year's Super Bowl, which took place in Atlanta, so Wang’s team worked with New York-based agency JohnXHannes to create a music video featuring Atlanta-based rapper 2 Chainz and a new song that represented the brand’s core message: You weren’t born to do expenses.
With an iced-out car and a diamond-encrusted football, 2 Chainz raps an original song, “Expensify Th!$,” showing receipts for expensive items featured in the video. Viewers could take pictures of those receipts and expense them using Expensify for a chance to win prizes. This interactive element gave people an easy and fun way to try the product.
“We wanted to do something that people didn’t expect, grab their attention, and let them interact with us,” said Wang. “We were blown away at the amount of engagement on the app and the reactions from the ad.”
Look to broader cultural trends for inspiration
“We didn’t want to do a traditional ad. We have never done traditional advertising,” said Dan Vu, director of marketing at Barefoot Wine. That’s why, to promote the newly redesigned Barefoot Spritzer cans, his team took inspiration from a Saturday Night Live sketch and created a music video with a star-studded fake girl band called “The Slay Team.”
The video featured actresses Laura Bell Bundy, Elizabeth Banks, and Chrissie Fit, along with SNL’s Cecily Strong and Phoebe Robinson of 2 Dope Queens — each woman represented a different spritzer flavor. Bundy wrote the song “Crushin’ It,” which aims to give reassurance to the product’s target audience — young women who, despite all of their accomplishments, sometimes question themselves.
The spoof video was so well received that the brand followed up with another one, called “Sleighin’ the Holidays, Feat. the Sleigh Team,” just in time for the holidays. One look at the comments under each video shows how much brand love the videos helped create. But the campaigns were also great for the company’s bottom line. Following the release of the “Crushin’ It” music video, Barefoot Spritzer cans saw a 74% increase in volume growth based on IRI scanner data.
Bring the online magic offline
Music transcends platforms. Someone might hear a song on the radio, head over to YouTube to watch the video, and then buy tickets to see it live. P&G’s Olay adopted this multiplatform approach to promote its new Daily Facials — and eventually its music videos landed Off-Broadway.
The brand kicked off with a musical-inspired video created in collaboration with PureWow. “I Can’t Wait to Wash My Face, The Musical” has over 10 million views on YouTube to date. “The musical was a fun way to tell our brand story and show people how to use our new product,” said John Grim, associate brand director of Olay.
Following the launch of the first video, Olay saw an increase in Daily Facial sales. This success and consumer interest prompted Olay to create two more musicals: one for the holidays and another for people with sensitive skin. But viewer comments showed people wanted more than just a video: They wanted the opportunity to experience the magic in real life. So Olay created a live, Off-Broadway show called “Olay Live: The Road to Glow,” featuring all three songs. Fans gained access to the exclusive show by entering a ticket lottery or uploading videos to YouTube of them singing along to the musicals.
“We saw in the comments of the first video that people really loved musicals, and wanted more,” said Grim. “This made it easier for us to continue to create music videos and bring the magic of the songs to the stage.”