How Unilever balances inspiration with practicality on mobile
By Chantal Tode
April 23, 2014
Unilever's All Things Hair YouTube channel
While inspirational content does best at capturing the attention and imagination of beauty consumers on mobile, Unilever knows that it cannot overlook the need for more practical how-to’s.
Unilever’s Dove Campaign for Real Beauty videos are a big win for the company, have generated millions of views on YouTube. However, Unilever is currently beta testing a new YouTube channel in Britain that delivers how-to videos for all of its hair care brands created by popular video bloggers, pointing to the importance of this kind of information for engaging social brand advocates.
“Unilever's Dove started 10 years ago with the Real Beauty story, and it continues to grow and morph into a living breathing brand story that people love,” said Roy DeYoung, senior vice president of creative services at PM Digital, New York. “The Real Beauty Sketches video alone, are seeing tens of millions of views compared to their beauty tips-based content, which is seeing modest viewing in the thousands.
“Both content directions are working, however, emotional storytelling for this brand appears to be more appealing to their audience at this time,” he said.
“A potential pitfall for Unilever could be discontinuing the tips/advice content based upon the mass appeal of the emotional-steeped content. In doing this, the brand could undermine the trust and insult the thousands of advocates, perhaps very vocal and socially active, who expect this type of content from the brand.”
Mr. DeYoung is not affiliated with Unilever. He spoke based on his expertise on the subject.
All things hair
Video consumption on mobile continues to grow and a number of brands are experimenting with a variety of video strategies, including long-form content and super-short videos.
Beauty marketers are among the biggest users of digital video, with their efforts running the gamut from emotional vignettes that inspire viewers or basic how-to’s imparting a quick few tricks of the trade to on-the-go consumers. Digital video enables these marketers to connect directly with a targeted audience.
While inspirational video tends to garner more views and a bigger focus from brands, how-to’s are important, too.
In Britain, Unilever is beta testing a new YouTube channel called All Things Hair that for the first time brings together the companies multiple hair care brands in one place, including Toni & Guy, Dove and VO5. The channel has close to 70,000 subscribers.
The channel uses Google data to understand what kinds of hair advice women are searching for and leverages a team of video bloggers to create instructional films.
While consumers cannot make purchases from All Things Hair right now, the final version is expected to have this functionality.
Mac Cosmetics is an example of another beauty brand that leverages how-to video to good effect.
“Mac Cosmetics continues to produce a vast library of how-to cosmetic tips that see tens of thousands of views and delivers the spot-on-content for this high-end, utility-based brand that retains life-long loyal advocates,” Mr. DeYoung said.
The key for a successful mobile video strategy is making content shareable, which requires creating a strong emotional reaction from an audience.
However, creating inspirational stories within a 15 or shorter time frame for a mobile ad can be challenging, which is why some beauty marketers supplement long-form video with shorter how-to’s.
For the how-to’s to be effective, though, brands may want to consider imbuing them with some of the emotional appeal of their longer-form videos.
“Shampoo and hair care brands are heavily involved in how-to content,” said Devra Prywes, vice president of marketing and insight at Unruly. “To the point where many of the videos blend together.
“These ads are very informative, and heavy on social motivations or reasons people will share, but tend to lack an emotional component,” she said. “Brands who can adjust their how-to approach, and make an effort to create an emotional connection with the content, such as tie the communication of knowledge to attending a first prom, going on a first date, one’s wedding day, etc., will see viewers’ psychological response increase.
“They will make a stronger emotional connection, and shareability will increase, at no added cost. Pantene, in the hair care sector, is doing this well. Their Labels Against Women campaign is one of the most highly shared videos in the hair care category.”
The practical approach to delivering relevant video how-to’s is in stark contrast to Unilever’s efforts specific to the Dove brand.
Last year’s Real Beauty Sketches had 138 million views and is one of most watched branded viral videos of all times. The six-minute film aimed to show women that they are more beautiful than they think they are by comparing self-descriptions to those of strangers.
Dove’s recently launched latest installment in its 10-year old Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is called Patches and shows a group of women who have been given pharmaceutical beauty patches. The women are surprised to find that the patches are fake after believing they were making an impact.
With close to 20 million views on YouTube since being published on April 9, Patches is another success for the campaign.
However, there has also been a backlash from some consumers, with some complaining that video, rather than being inspiring, depicts women as gullible and desperate while Dove comes off as manipulative.
Dove’s experience with Patches highlights one of the potential pitfalls with more emotional digital video – that they need to come across as authentic or savvy consumers will be quick to single out content with negative reviews.
“Delivering content via video and giving seamless access to this content via mobile is a smart idea, as 40 percent of YouTube traffic is now from mobile and 50 million people in the U.S. are watching video on mobile devices,” PM Digital's Mr. DeYoung said. “But the bigger picture here is this: Video is content, mobile is an environment in which the video is viewed, and brands need to do both.
“Understanding one's audience and why they watch, what they watch and when they watch is critical,” he said. “Video content needs be part of the bigger brand story; a continuation relevant to the overall brand story that advocates are already aligned with or connected to emotionally.”
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