Some recent case-study videos have become just as creative—sometimes more so—than the campaigns they tout. As award show entry numbers swell—the Cannes Lions festival got 37,427 submissions this year, up 5 percent from 2013—agencies are fighting to stand out.
For example, Droga5 used the voice of a guy with a fake Scottish accent in a 2-plus-minute video about its Facebook campaign for Newcastle beer, and BBDO featured close-ups of hands smashing food in a 2-minute video about its Mobile TeleSystems effort. For its Jean-Claude Van Damme “The Epic Split” Volvo Trucks ad, Forsman & Bodenfors kept it simple, showing behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot.
The long-form explanations may just be practical, as not every juror will know your campaign. “It used to be that everyone would be anticipating the new Nike commercial because you’ve seen it and go, ‘This thing is so good it’s going to win everything,’” said Jeff Goodby, co-chairman of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. “Now you see a lot of things you’ve never seen before, and you have to have them explained.”
And while absurdist tactics can get attention, too much polish can be a turnoff. “The slicker they are, the less effective they tend to be in front of a jury,” said John Butler, ecd at Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners. Added Bartle Bogle Hegarty CCO John Patroulis: “There aren’t too many people that are tricked by a beautifully crafted case study that’s selling a crappy campaign.”
“The best ones make a poignant cultural point. Not a business problem, but cultural tension that you find. This one is a little meta and about advertising. If it’s great work, you can see exactly how it affects the culture,” said Jason Marks, executive creative director of Partners + Napier in New York.
“It’s a little too long,” said Kevin Swanepoel, president of The One Club. “It did use humor to good effect. It would probably have been better if it had been cut at 1:40.”
Mobile Telesystems, DDBO
“The hands thing—it’s kind of a gimmick,” said Marks. “If you see a couple of these, you’re probably going to see hundreds. Then you’re not looking at the work but commenting on the triteness of hands in case-study videos.”
“The issue with this film is that it takes them almost 30 seconds to get to the point,” said Butler. “I don’t think the effects stuff, the confetti, the fruit, the whipped cream are needed to tell this story. ‘I get it, I get it’ kept running through my mind watching it.”
Volvo Trucks, Forsman & Bodenfors
“This one isn’t about the case study itself, but it’s the idea that’s coming through,” said Patroulis. “It’s an interesting story, a nice idea that was well-executed, and they use the film as part of that.”
Said Butler: “They used the assets of the campaign and brought their idea to life that way, without shooting a bunch of extraneous borrowed stuff, or trying to make the piece a creative execution unto itself. They simply told the story by leveraging its assets.”