Sex and Social Video Marketing: How Brands Are Building Better Relationships with Video

I interviewed brand marketers David Brier and Marlene Hamerling about their recently released presentation, “Brand Leaders & Sex: The Untold Story,” and about what they perceived as the links between sex and relationships in social video marketing. Learn from my interviews and research on how brands can build much more engaging and long-lasting relationships with their own customers by balancing “sexy” video for getting attention and building excitement, along with relationship-building videos that encourage ongoing conversations and helpful service.

I first found out about the duo when I received a press release, announcing his presentation “Brand Leaders & Sex: The Untold Story.” (The full presentation is available for viewing above.) I learned David Brier is a self-titled brand identity expert, veteran designer, author, speaker, Fast Company blogger, has his own YouTube channel, and has self-published his brand marketing book, Rising Above the Noise.  His partner on the presentation, Marlene Hamerling is featured as a professional copywriter working with international brands in various mediums, including multimedia, print and video advertising.

I asked David and Marlene to go beyond the obvious link between sex and brand marketing, and think about how “social video” changes the dynamics. While their examples are all geared towards brand marketing on a big-budget/enterprise level associated with television-related advertising or general pop culture, I do appreciate how their Slideshare presentation makes good use of entertaining and visually-oriented themes. Also I believe their interview responses can provide us with some good insight into the powerful connection between sex and relationships in social video.

Interview with David Brier

Grant: How do you believe that utilizing video enhances the link between sex and marketing?

David: Video obviously allows for storytelling that sometimes is easier to show than tell. But I’d say it’s like perfume: the key is moderation and not overdoing it. Too much of a good thing and leaving little to the imagination will destroy anything.

Grant: What do you perceive as the advantages of doing “social video” using the theme of sex or sexual attraction in marketing?

David: Sexual themed promotions have, like anything, good and bad applications. Paris Hilton’s sex tape would be a poor example whereas there are good examples  like the Old Spice guy, the Axe commercials or the Go Daddy commercials that double with their online campaigns. They’re pretty funny and garner a lot of attention.

Grant: Your presentation emphasized the influence of sex in social relationships between consumers and brands. How would you say that video affects that type of relationship, either real or perceived by the consumer?

David: Video is one of the most effective storytelling channels. Given today’s “tweet attention spans,” the more punch you can pack into a minute or two, the better. But like the Old Spice guy, what was great was not just the sexual humor but also the ongoing dialogue, much he like Dos Equis Beer’s Most Interesting Man in the World campaign. Consumers embrace brands that are truly transparent. As a result of the Dos Equis campaign, it has been reported that sales of Dos Equis have increased by 22% at a time when the sale of other imported beer fell 4% in the U.S.

Marlene: Something a little suggestive can be an attention getter.  But it’s got to be backed up by substance, a message about the brand.

Grant: In your presentation, you talk about how leadership brands enjoy a level of “customer monogamy.” How do you define that, exactly?

David: Brands that offer endless value (take for example Apple) reap the rewards of endless commitment, as in “until death do you part…” That’s what we mean by consumer monogamy. Right now, more brands have fleeting relationships since the consumer is married to an idea (such as a cheap price or short-lived benefit) that is not consistently delivered upon; and thusly we have an epidemic of “brand flings” spreading over the nation.

Grant: How would you describe the Old Spice video campaign of 2010, in terms of the classifications you give to sex and relationships in marketing? What was positive? What should have been done differently?

David: I thought it was very successful and got Old Spice a lot of attention it wasn’t having before. But it could have engaged the Old Spice man in more interaction so he wasn’t so isolated. But the videos were funny and had the singular achievement of going online July 14, 2010, garnering 6.7 million views after 24 hours, and ballooning over 23 million views after 36 hours—launching the fastest growing online viral video campaign ever.

“Sexy” Social Video Marketing Tips – Attraction, Interest, and Relationships with Customers Through Video

After having the opportunity to interview both David and Marlene and revisit their Slideshare presentation, I thought to combine my own tips with theirs on how any business can harness the power of sex and relationships for social media marketing campaigns with video:

  • First have the sexual attraction. Develop a video or video series that gets your audience’s attention, and has their initial interest. But don’t treat it as a “fling.” Instead, treat it as a romance, with a promise of more to come. Better yet, give them an opportunity to openly respond and share their own interest and feedback directly with you and others.
  • Next, work at social side of the relationship. Don’t take your audience (i.e., customers/consumers/users) for granted. Maintain the relationship by listening to what your customers say their needs are, and be regularly and consistently responsive with helpful new videos featuring information and resources. Better yet, encourage your consumer base to submit their own videos with questions, comments, and allow them to help others. That’s an outstanding way for brands to have a real, authentic, and egalitarian social relationship with their consumers through video.

David’s own Social Media Press Kit website has an interesting take on the mistakes brands make with forgetting to forge an authentic personal/professional relationship with customers.  You can find in his article, “The 7 Deadly Sins of Branding” (excerpt below) under “Sin #6: The human connection ratio”

Every strong brand has in some way become a product that represents what that customer is seeking: ease, convenience, power, stamina, pride, beauty. But in each case, it’s the human factor that can be missed. Every product does have, as its end use, a human who is buying the product for a reason. Find the reason, keep it on personal terms, and you’re well on your way to avoiding this pitfall.

I think this explains the mistake that many brand marketers make with what they would like to consider “sexy” social video marketing. Brands tend to place too much of their efforts and budget on the attention-getting side (i.e., short-term, immediate gratification) to the point of vanity; when they should instead balance that out with equal or greater time on building the long-term side of customer relationships (including videos that are actually helpful to the customer’s expressed needs – i.e, ongoing customer service.)

So the point I’m trying to make is this: Sex gets our attention, and video is the best media we have available to us to convey it. But for brands to keep their customers’ interest, they must go beyond vanity and appeals to short-term desire; and shift their focus to real, authentic, personal videos that carry on a real conversation with customers.  They need to have their videos evoke a genuine need to help their customers in return for their own time and money so they are able to build a strong sense of connection long after the initial infatuation.

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