Can Brands Tell A Story In Six Seconds Or Fewer? Ritz, Dove And Trident Think So

Whenever a new platform launches these days, brands are instantly checking them out to see how they can “become a part of the conversation.” What that really means is how they can use a site like Twitter, or its new app Vine, to get your eyeballs, interact with you and, of course, sell you more stuff. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s commerce at its purest.

The story isn’t that brands try out new platforms. That’s boring. The interesting part is how they approach them and why. Now that consumers have the power to skip through commercials on programs that they record, creative advertisers have to start pushing the envelope on generating interesting and persuasive messages outside of the television set.

I spoke with VaynerMedia founder Gary Vaynerchuk, and his firm urges their clients to test new things out. When he says test it out, he means it:

I tell our companies that there’s a 72 hour rule where you’re not even thinking about an ROI or how you can generate business. They should just try things out.

Vaynerchuk’s companies are definitely giving Vine a swing, and the brands include GE, Ritz Cracker, Dove and Trident gum. The initial six-second vines include fun spins on their iconic brands, products and logos. What will it do for the company right now? Probably nothing, and that’s OK with the brands and VaynerMedia.

Here’s a look at what Trident shared as its first Vine, just a few clips of people chewing the gum:

While this clip might not make you want to run out and buy a pack, it does humanize the brand a little more, making it about people and not the stuff that people stick under your airplane seat. Still though, you can see how this new platform brings out a new form of creativity, making you pack as much as you can into a six-second video. There are “real” people in this clip, not the models that we’re used to seeing on TV.

Another one of Vaynerchuk’s clients, Dove, did something pretty fun in its first vine. When he told me that Dove was giving the new platform a chance, I asked him how Dove could possibly make its product seem interesting, clever or funny with six seconds of video. Apparently, the team thought about it and here’s what they came up with:

Once again, does this make you want to purchase a bottle of Dove hair products or soap? Probably not, but you have to admit that this is pretty cute and was created without trying to force in a way to make us give them money. Imagine if all commercials on TV were only six seconds long: That would be pretty wild and creative for brand managers.

Instead of just butting into everyone’s streams with old-school advertising and a “call to action,” Vaynerchuk sees it as something else:

Storytelling is changing, and unless brands know how to tell theirs in a quick, witty and purposeful way that is native to these new platforms, they will be left behind.

When I think about what attracted brands to a service like Instagram, it took me a little longer to grasp how powerful that platform could be for a company. However, a brand like American Eagle perfectly leveraged Instagram to show off its latest fashion line, even showing off pictures of things that haven’t hit the shelves yet. When you viewed the photos within the app, it felt like a more intimate experience than getting a flyer in the mail or watching a few runway models on TV. You felt like the brand was talking to you, and that’s powerful storytelling.

I also spoke to Brett Petersel of The Community Manager, and based on his past work with big brands, he’s intrigued by how companies can get involved on Vine without making it creepy or pushy:

I’m curious to see how Vine will allow brands and companies to send their message across to their fans/followers in six seconds or less.

Many people have a short attention-span, and I hope [brands/companies] tackle the time issue and use Vine in a creative manner. I’m looking forward to see who wins at this.

One other interesting thing that I saw on Vine today was an account set up by Google’s YouTube. There’s no content on its profile as of yet, but think about what the product can do on this platform. If YouTube were to take a six second clip and use it as a teaser along with link to the full video on its site, that could generate all new traffic and interest for its content. Pretty genius.

The most important part of this is the big win for Twitter. It acquired Vine in October, and many figured that the site would implement it in some way, but none knew what immediate impact it would have. The app is simple, clean and attractive to a wide range of users. If brands are already checking it out, then Twitter accomplished what it set out to do, which is to launch a completely new platform that will feed content into its own, rather than just rely on every other app and site for that content.

This also means that Twitter will get first crack at monetizing Vine, which it will surely try to do. How? That’s not clear just yet, but if you’ve watched what the site has done with promoted tweets and special brand functionality, this could easily be ported over to Vine. How can Twitter infuse branding and marketing into its platform without pissing users off? Basically, just don’t do what Facebook does.

What will happen after this 72-hour trial period that Vaynerchuk talks about? I’m sure that his team will figure out the next steps, and perhaps it could take a bite out of other platforms that aren’t generating the buzz that they used to for brands.

[Photo credit: Flickr]