From Arabia: 7 lessons in original video content

ADCB's original content series, "Ambition Visualized," shows how even a bank can connect to its audience in a more human way

On a recent Etihad flight connecting through the United Arab Emirates, I got a glimpse of this original video content series from the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB). In it, everyday people talk about their life ambitions in a casual, unscripted fashion. It’s real, raw, and simple, and as a result drives home how universal human ambitions are — the lives we hope to lead, the goals we aim to realize, the opportunities we desire to create for our children.

Sitting on the 16-hour flight, it became clear that although the power of original video content is still largely untapped, we are seeing a number of good examples coming from around the world.  These pioneering organizations large and small, from the U.S. to the U.K. to the U.A.E., have embraced the notion that original video content created for an audience’s viewing pleasure, insight, or education, rather than as straight promotion, is one of the best ways to connect with stakeholders and build brand loyalty.

As we’ve documented in a host of case studies, some organizations pull this off better than others. Here’s how ADCB did and lessons for you to apply to your own video content marketing campaigns:

What worked:

1) Personal connection

If you make something personal, people will connect.  As members of the human species we will never tire from hearing each other’s stories.  ADCB was smart to work with real people and their real ambitions. The films come across as authentic and relatable. We see people smile and cry as they close their eyes and envision their futures. The personal connection with the audience is aided by the singular focus of the films on human ambition.

2) Beautiful but cost-effective production style

ADCB chose to only show interviews rather than add supporting footage. This keeps the films intimate and focused, and also helped to mitigate cost on the back end. The filmmakers worked with a couple of cameras to offer visual diversity and interest, while the black and white coloring and rich lighting imbues the films with a touch of elegance.

3) Modular packaging

ADCB created different versions of the video, a longer version, a shorter version, and personal versions that provide more in-depth looks at each interviewee. This allows the organization to use the video in lots of different ways, and allows viewers a chance to dig deeper if they wish.

4) Custom site to host the series

A custom site, like the one ADCB created, allows you to arrange films in a thoughtful, cohesive way online. It also reinforces the notion that this content is independent, albeit courtesy of you.

5) Minimal branding

Nothing spoils original video content like a brand stapled in the top right corner. For the most part, ADCB resisted the temptation. The shorter version has branding at the beginning (possibly because this was the TV version), but the full-length video and individual person versions do not. As a result, you have no sense of this being a ADCB commercial, or of ADCB being involved in producing these until the end, where branding appears but in a subtle fashion. “ADCB presents: Ambition Visualized”. The end screen doesn’t sell anything. We conclude with “Money Can’t Buy Ambition.”  ADCB is positioned as a publisher of content the audience wants to see.

What would have improved it:

1) More subtle branding on landing page and YouTube channel

On a landing page, the idea is to keep the same subtle surprise element as on the videos themselves. We don’t want to see ADCB or Coca-Cola or Pfizer or whatever it may be advertised all over the written content of the page. ADCB puts its name front and center “ADCB presents:”, then proceeds to categorize all the different videos based around different types of banking it offers. Instead ADCB could have called the landing page and YouTube channel ”Money Can’t Buy Ambition” and made the actual original content the branding – “Brought to you by ADCB.”

2) A call to action

Currently the videos end without offering any further direction to the audience. They just say “Money Can’t Buy Ambition.” It would have been better for there to be a non-sales call to action – i.e. To learn more about the backstories go to Money Can’t Buy Ambition online. Once you have someone’s attention, keep it. The more time they’re engaged, the more likely they are to remember and return.


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