VP, Eastern Sales
Funny or Die
Which of my lessons resonates with you the most and why?
Of all of the rules, the one that I feel like rings most true is “Be where your audience is.” I think we see this a lot — brands trying to create these destination websites — although it’s happening less now. And the idea of exclusivity — for a brand -– isn’t Wise. If they’ve created a great piece of content, it should live everywhere and get as many views as possible — FOD [Funny or Die], YouTube, Break, everywhere. Different sites appeal to different people so you need to try to reach as many as possible.
The adoption of social media (like Facebook) is a big part of this. Everyone is on Facebook. So, [marketers should] get the[ir] video there, instead of trying to bring people from Facebook TO your destination site or wherever.
Also, rule #7, “Act like content,” is critical. The Internet, as much as it runs on ad-based revenue, is not a place for advertisements. Because the entire internet is basically VOD , [people] don’t want to see ads as the content — they want to see ads around the content, before or after the content, or integrated into the content in an organic non-intrusive way that doesn’t drive the entertainment value down while delivering the brand communication message. [This is] especially [true] on FOD. Based on the intelligence and web/marketing savvy of the FOD user — if it’s funny, it doesn’t matter.
How have your clients put one or more of these lessons to good use?
[We've put them to use through] contests like Let’s Go Viral (submit a video to win a chance to make a video with Team FOD which includes Judd Apatow, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Chris Henchy and Andrew Steele including the heavy use of social media and local market tweet hunts) and Tweet Or Die (tweet in 140 characters or less your idea for an FOD viral video and we will fly you to LA to produce it and allow you to take over our Twitter account to tweet about it and possibly have a walk-on role in the production).
Big brands we’ve been working with are really starting to understand rule #2 — “Tap the wisdom of crowds.” [There's a notion] that the internet is this large organism that you can interact with and learn from and give content to and receive content from in a “what have you done for me lately” world where content is always king.
Many of these are the principles that FOD was founded on – Professional Content matched with User Generated Content — allowing the audience to determine what content gets consumed and what content dies [via] voting mechanism[s]. [It's] a perpetual content contest of sorts where users control the content and experience.
Lesson # 7 is “Act Like Content.” Branded entertainment is agreat example of how brands can get in front of their audience with content that doesn’t feel like advertising (i.e. ads acting like content). Can you share some examples of original videos you created that integrated brands?
Between 2 Ferns with Charlize [Theron] is a great [example] of doing this. The client gave us full creative freedom including how we integrated the brand, making the comedy natural and amusing for all and very well received. To [ensure] the success further, big name stars and this franchise on FOD sure helped.
An even better example is what Zach [Galifianakis] did with Absolut. In this viral video hit there was no hiding the fact that it was a fully branded piece of content but that didn’t matter because it was hilarious to all. (This wasn’t done by FOD but was seeded on FOD.)
We’ve certainly tried to have brands “act like content” as best we can. Nerf [is another] good example of trying to make things that weren’t over-branded and that just felt like genuine web-based comedy content.
Were the brands happy with the results?
I believe EA was happy with the B2F [Between 2 Ferns] results as was Hasbro with the Nerf series.
What were the key performance indicators?
The main key performance indicator is Views. For any piece of content, the ultimate success is if people are actually consuming and sharing it. Quality content that consumers are enjoying is directly translated to higher the views.
Between 2 Ferns to date has received close to 1 million views. The Absolut series combined to 500,000 views. Both of the campaign were huge success because the integrated the brand in an organic natural way and in turn received well by consumers.
Why do you think these programs work so well?
They work well because they are organic. It feels like the brand is providing the Internet with something (i.e. content worth consuming) instead of taking away from it or interrupting it’s flow. Again, it’s like a living organism, and the Internet wants brands there because they’re necessary, but they also want the brands to play by their rules — the Internet rules. And those rules state that, if you’re going to be there, you’ve got to share and you’ve got to share good and real stuff. And that’s what a genuinely funny web series does — not TV ads masquerading as a web series or viral videos. These are just longer commercials made for the web and do not fool the user or help drive the marketing message in a positive way.
Lesson #15 is “Sex Sells.” Have you run any campaigns at FOD that preyed on people’s primal instincts?
We certainly have proof that a title or a thumbnail of a celeb + sex is going to get massive views. See examples like “Denise Richards Fun Bags,” “Eva Longoria Sex Tape,” “Rachel Bilson Deleted Sex Scene,” and the upcoming “Eva Mendes Sex Tape.” Oh, also, “Tiffany Amber Thiesen in a bikini.” And [other examples include] Comedy Fetish and our Let’s Go Viral campaign that generated over 6K user submissions.
Additionally, “99 words for Boob” has 1.6 Million views. Having a sexual reference or image in a title or thumbnail will almost certainly drive click-throughs. Also, top search keywords to our site are ‘sex’ and ‘sex video’ where Eva Longoria Sex Tapes appears on the first page of Google search results.
In less than 140 characters, what’s the single most important thing you’ve learned from Google?
The future is free in a world where Content is King.