WEEK 23: Ups and Downs

A while ago, a brand called Dollar Shave Club released a film explaining their value proposition. It became very popular for its entertaining and unique treatment. Viewers also liked that the founder of the company led the narrative of the film. This gave it more authenticity, as opposed to an actor leading the film (the fact that the founder also has a charismatic personality considerably increased the appeal of the film). If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here.

A common trait I have noticed among Indian marketers is that many (but not all) of them seem to constantly be looking for ways to put a formula to good content. The minute they see a piece of content that did well, they dissect it to its essential components (structure, duration, genre, direction, etc.) and apply those elements to their own content. The truth that the advertising industry often fails to recognise is that there is no single algorithm for successful content. There are multiple factors that contribute to the success of a content piece; it will never be enough to simply copy the structure of an existing piece that performed well.

Nevertheless, numerous brands have approached us saying that they want a video like the one Dollar Shave Club did – and not just in an overall genre sort of way. They have all come to us with specific instructions such as the film should be led by a protagonist (be it that company’s founder or an actor) just like in the Dollar Shave Club film, it should be shot in a warehouse as in the Dollar Shave Club film, and should be the same duration as said film.

We reminded these brands that the reason the Dollar Shave Club film did so well was not simply because of the way in which the film was shot. Some other reasons for its success were as follows:

  1. The brand’s value proposition was unique and attractive

  2. The founder’s performance did not seem at all forced – he was naturally charismatic and his message was authentic

  3. The video was produced with very high production values 

  4. The brand spent even more money on media distribution than it did on production

If a brand cannot fulfill all the criteria stated above, then their ‘Dollar Shave Club film’ would probably fail. For example, if a brand has a founder that is not naturally as comfortable in front of a camera, even if we were to write a script that was on the same lines as the Dollar Shave Club film, it would come across as fake and contrived, as the founder would not be able to deliver a performance at par with the one in the Dollar Shave Club film.

And even if a brand managed to fulfill all the criteria that contributed to the success of the Dollar Shave Club film, they could still fail because viewers would see their film as a copy and most likely react in a negative way.

There is no harm in being inspired from content that perform well. But instead of copying the Dollar Shave Club film, we tell brands that while we can take inspiration from it, we should create something original that does the most justice to the brand. If a brand’s content is original and entertaining, the subsequent benefits are two-fold:

  1. The brand will have provided its audience with truly unique content, which would be more likely to pique their interest than a copycat film

  2. The chances of brand recall increase exponentially when the quality and originality of its content is excellent (this is what happened with the film by Dollar Shave Club – everyone knows who they are because their content was fresh)

We can only hope that the brands that have approached us with the Dollar Shave Club film in mind will come around and understand the value of originality. We like to think that a few of them already have. We will have to wait and see.

In other news, we welcomed two new members to the team. They have joined us at a very busy time, and are already working hard.

However, this week ended on a tragic note – we had to say goodbye to Bob.  She was involved in what we think was a car accident and passed away. She was a wonderful dog. We all loved her very much and miss her every day.

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