It’s a wild and crazy world for brands looking to engage with Millennials. There’s an art to working with social media influencers, socially-savvy celebs, viral-ready video that’s ready for Snapchat, Instagram and mobile phones — and making sure the brand doesn’t get lost in the mix.
As a case study of how to make it work, consider the latest creative by Clorox’s Brita filter line. It involves NBA star Stephen Curry, Vine comic-turned-Snapchat star King Bach, the viral video pros at Portal A and a client with a new product to pitch—with the result being the brand’s first music video.
“Best Roommate Ever” is a music video fantasy about what an amazing (and Brita-refilling) roommate Stephen Curry would be. The branded entertainment collaboration also communicates the benefits of the new Brita Stream.
It also makes good use of the affable Curry, the well-liked player considered by some to be the greatest shooter in NBA history. He’s also in-demand by brands, as one of the highest-paid brand ambassadors for Under Armour and a Brita spokesman since last summer.
Helping Brita with the creative, the tone, the strategy and the entire process: Portal A, the California-based award-winning digital studio that has done loads of memorable online videos, including the massively popular 2016 recap YouTube Rewind video.
We spoke with Portal A Managing Partner Zach Blume about the Brita project, the new rules for the wild world of branded entertainment and even his parents’ Facebook feed.
brandchannel: How do you described the Brita branded entertainment project: Is this an ad? A skit? A short film? A music video?
Zach Blume (right): That’s a good question. The category that we use is branded content or branded entertainment. And it has become a bit of a buzzword over the last couple years, but I can proudly say we were using it before it became a buzzword.
Essentially what that means is a piece of entertainment or content that feels like something you would actually want to watch. A piece of entertainment with branded integration. Traditionally, you have the stuff you want to watch and the stuff that interrupts what you want to watch. What we try and do for every one of your projects is make sure we’re creating the stuff you actually want to watch, not the stuff that interrupts.
brandchannel: Brita Stream is an improvement on the Brita filter everyone has come to know and love. How is this communicating improvements on something a lot of people may already own and are happy with?
Blume: In this video we’re talking about a very specific product feature that we’re highlighting—the filter as you pour, which is a novel take on the Brita filter we’re all familiar with. So we really honed in on that really specific feature that makes the product so compelling, and let that play a part in the music video we were creating.
The other piece is that we’re speaking to a younger new audience that is coming of age, maybe having their first roommate or just went to college and living with roommates for the first time. We’re building creative that can speak to an audience in a really authentic way.
— Brita USA (@BritaUSA) March 9, 2017
brandchannel: How much creative input did King Bach have?
Blume: He is amazing. He is the next generation of talent. These are folks who, in many ways just like us, started in a bedroom. Our company started in a basement and just started making stuff. This is a group of talent that is coming of age before our eyes and King Bach is at the top of the list. He is unbelievably hilarious, talented, creative and savvy. He was making everyone cry-laughing on set.
He was very, very involved in all aspects of the video from beginning to end, from concept to script writing to on-set to post-production. He’s a wonderful partner.
brandchannel: With King Bach, whose Vines could be a bit suggestive, did you have to cut anything that was really great but wasn’t safe for the brand?
Blume: There is a behind-the-scenes video coming out, so some of the uncut moments are there. But off the top of my head there wasn’t anything that crossed over a line or that didn’t make the final cut. I think that is a huge credit to the team at Brita.
It’s something that we talk about all the time, in our industry—how important it is not to approach these exercises the same way as you would a commercial running on TV, for example.
Brands need to be comfortable with content that feels at home with this new generation of talent and with the new audience. Brita was amazing in empowering us but also King Bach to be his best, most creative and hilarious self.
brandchannel: How much of a requirement is it these days to pull back the curtain and release a behind-the-scenes video to more deeply engage your target audience?
Blume: I wouldn’t call it a requirement, more of a fun piece for people who want to go a level deeper. What I do think is now a requirement is how we created custom shorts for each of King Bach’s different social channels.
So the main video is launching on his YouTube channel. But then we created a custom short for his Instagram channel, a custom short for his Facebook page, and a bunch of various GIFs and photos and such that Steph and Bach will be posting.
I do think it’s pretty essential when you’re working with somebody like King Bach who has this incredible audience across so many channels—Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter—to create a supporting content that feels like it belongs on that specific channel. And that’s what we did.
Our philosophy is that good content is good content no matter where it is. But that each platform has a slightly different language and it’s very smart to adjust your creative approach for the language of the platform.
brandchannel: How do you measure the success of this campaign?
Blume: If my parents tell me they saw the video some though their Facebook feed then I’ll consider it a success. Really, obviously there are a lot of different metrics that we use to measure. There is a qualitative side—the ideas and writing and the creative—and a quantitative side—the reach and engagement and brand lift. And we look back to see where we were most effective. We measure for all the quantitative metrics. But at the end of the day, it’s true—if it reaches my parents, I’ll consider it a success.