By Al Navarro, CCO
Last November, the Johnny Walker brand of scotch released its latest mini-movie, starring actors Jude Law and Giancarlo Giannini.
Entitled “The Gentleman’s Wager II”, the viral video continues the storyline of two wealthy men (it’s unclear whether they are playing themselves or some fictionalized version of themselves) who try to win a prized possession from the other over a bet. To exchange money would be beneath them, of course.
I invite you to watch all 11 minutes and 11 seconds of the film. What you’ll see are breath-taking location shots, extremely high production values, great sound, and two actors looking like they are having a lot of fun. While you can predict the ending, I bet you’ll still find yourself watching it all the way to the end.
I’m confident it cost them a small fortune to make. And that’s why I’m writing about it. In my 25+ year career in advertising, I have met exactly 3 clients who put little to no constraints on creative or production costs. In fact, most clients want things done as cheaply as possible.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
But I’m writing to argue for taking the opposite route, at least once in a while. And I’m offering “The Gentleman’s Wager II” and its predecessor, “The Gentleman’s Wager” as key pieces of evidence.
Consider the fact that the first installment of the film series, which debuted in the summer of 2014, has over 11 million views. You read that right: 11 million. Guess how many times the actors mention the product? Not once, not twice, but ZERO times. It is merely a prop, and sometimes the label isn’t even turned to the camera (as it is with most product placement deals).
The second episode already has nearly 2 million views (counting views of Johnnie Walker USA’s and Mexico’s posts of the same video). With a similar amount of airtime for the product…though I noticed that the label is more visible this time. Contrast this with trope of clients asking to make their logo bigger.
What we have here is basically one big “zig” in the face of conventional marketing “zag”. Minimal product mentions (and zero discussion of product features/benefits) and max production dollars vs. max product mention and minimum production dollars.
And here just two of the overwhelmingly positive comments you’ll see on YouTube for the videos:
“Out of the few ads I do not skip, these are the ones. Keep up the good work, next time I drink whiskey it’ll be a Blue Label.”
“I literally drink Blue Label now after the first ad – the system works!”
So not only did people give up a few minutes (the first film is only about 6 and a half minutes long) of their day and actively engage with the content (instead of fast forwarding through a commercial), but they are now brand advocates.
Isn’t that what we are all striving for? Isn’t it what every marketer SHOULD be striving for? Just keep in mind that it might cost. Perhaps not what the Johnny Walker films cost, but it won’t be free. And may not even be cheap. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for.
Got your own examples of high production leading to high engagement? Or maybe some success on a shoestring stories? Share them!