Branded Video Content Ideas from J. Crew, LOFT and Man Repeller
When consumer brands, such as Adidas, Estée Lauder and Starbucks opt to include original video content in their marketing plans, an increasingly popular route is to partner with a blogger or digital influencer. These paid arrangements can take almost all aspects of original content production out of the hands of your brand, and lead to high levels of brand exposure to new audiences, delivery of authentic brand message, and bring new traffic to your website and social media channels.
Of course, influencer marketing is not the only way to create highly engaging, consumer-targeted video content. What follows are three of my favorite recent examples of brand-driven online video campaigns that are entertaining and engaging. These feel nothing like over-promotional sales content:
LOFT x Jessi Klein
LOFT, Ann Taylor’s relaxed sister brand, rolled out a trio of one-minute videos in early-2017 that build off its marketing collaboration with comedian Jessi Klein, the executive producer on TV’s “Inside Amy Schumer.” These three clips, featuring Klein (clad in LOFT, of course) in amusing scenes about her wardrobe challenges, reveal a coupon code for a percentage off a purchase in the last few seconds that was exclusive to those who watched to the end. The comedic LOFT videos were shared across social media platforms and promoted through brand email subscriptions.
Why is this series one of my favorite examples of branded video content? Because the video focuses not on the sale of a product itself, but instead on the lighthearted and relatable attitude that’s associated with the LOFT brand. The marketers behind this campaign have capitalized on the idea that giving customers the opportunity to independently identify with the personality and ethos of a brand can be just as effective at making sales as overtly promoting a product.
LOFT x Jessi Klein: Special Delivery - In the example below, we see Klein navigating the awkward situation of being given a present that just isn’t right. Luckily, the gift giver came prepared with a back-up gift from LOFT. The video also features the branded hashtag, #LoveLoft.
Man Repeller, a comedic sartorial website aimed at style-oriented millennials, offers articles that range from fashion (“My Never-Ending Quest for the Perfect Boiler Suit”) and pop-culture commentary (“Has Beyoncé Already Given Birth?”) to career advice and ‘how-to’ guides (“How to Stay Friends With Your Friends Who Have Kids”). With nearly 200,000 unique visitors to its site each month and almost 380,000 followers on Twitter, Man Repeller has become a global community of bright, interested and interesting people who know that fashion, humor and intelligence are not mutually exclusive.
The website has a distinct voice that’s smart, cheeky and deeply connected to current trends –which is encapsulated in the personality of the site’s editor-in-chief Leandra Medine. A handful of brands (including Topshop, Chanel and NARS) have worked with the Man Repeller team to create original video content to push out to their reader base via the site’s main page and social media channels. These brands understand that, in order to tap into the Man Repeller fanbase, they have to hand over creative control and allow for videos to be created in a style that is consistent with the website’s unique voice. Each Man Repeller/brand collaboration fits in among the other videos produced by the Man Repeller team, down to the colors added in post-production and music used during the title slides. While the videos are all clearly sponsored, they are funny, clever and on-brand for both parties involved, making them sharable and rewatchable.
Adventures in Vlogging with NARS Dual-Intensity Blush - In this collaboration – with bonus appearances by musician Questlove and Instagram influencer Toast (a puppy with a publicist!) – Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine gives 'beauty vlogging' a try per the recommendation of her social media advisor. She shows the viewers how the NARS Dual-Intensity Blush can turn them all into the "Instagram filter of your dreams."
Here are a few additional examples of stellar influencer-created video content:
- Brand ambassador and vlogger Esteé Lalonde teamed up with Adidas to share her top workout motivation tips.
- Lily Pebbles worked with Starbucks to promote its Teavana drinks as a way brighten up a not-so-sunny summer day.
- Beauty blogger Alix, from I Covet Thee, included the new Esteé Lauder fragrance in a video she filmed about a romantic date night.
J. Crew: Style Hacks
In this series from the J.Crew brand, 2.5-minute videos averaging between 250,000-750,000 YouTube views act as a quieter kind of self-promotion. They feature designers and editors on the J. Crew staff answering styling questions focused around themes such as the denim trend or holiday fashion, or a specific article of clothing (for example, button-up shirts has an entire dedicated video!).
This instructional style focuses less on promoting a flash sale or the launch of a new product and more on answering commonly-asked questions about how to dress for certain occasions or seasons. Plus, by having the videos hosted by employees of J.Crew, viewers can attach a distinct face and personality to the brand. The conversations between the hosts flow naturally, almost as if improvised – avoiding any name dropping or product placement that would ruin the carefully- crafted “non-salesy” feel of the videos. Another measurement of these videos’ success? The brand was a Webby Award honoree in 2017 in the Fashion & Beauty categories.
J.Crew Style Hacks: DIY Edition - The Style Hacks video below features J. Crew’s head women’s wear designer and editor-in-chief as they discuss how to distress denim, get creative with a scarf, and master the step hem, the perfect ankle baring cuff.
In three different ways, from partnering with a celebrity to aligning with an influential media source and leveraging internal experts, LOFT, Man Repeller and J.Crew were able to show how emphasizing its brand voice and focusing less on overt product promotion allows for authentic audience engagement. To create long-term relationships with your customers, find ways for them to personally identity with your brand, beyond just liking the products. These playful videos invite viewers to find something in their own personality or worldview that connects to the voice of the brand, creating a loyalty and relationship that’s hard for even the perfect pair of jeans to achieve.
Eva Goellner is assistant account executive at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.