Beautiful Lengths

In 2012, Pantene Beautiful Lengths will donate a record 12,000 real hair wigs to women fighting cancer nationwide and as part of Pantene’s marketing program, they created a branded documentary to capture a compelling story and drive interest in the Beautiful Lengths program. Not only did this SXSW panel include a marketing rep from Pantene (P&G), but also the director of the documentary and a representative from P&G’s PR firm. It was so inspiring to hear their account of how the project came to be, and how personal it is to each of them now it’s over. LET’S GET MORE OF OUR CLIENT PARTNERS ON BOARD WITH CREATING BRANDED DOCUMENTARY – if done well and right, it’s a surefire way to increase engagement and drive interest in the brand. The mental model consumers use to make purchase decisions is changing; they want to feel good about the brands they choose, and that they’re taking part in making the world a better place. Here are a few tips from the panel, after having gone through the process themselves. For anyone considering branded documentary as part of their marketing program, listen up:

1)       Use real stories and real people – they are your best asset

2)      The documentary should be cinematic, and should NOT feel like a marketing video

3)      Engage viewers emotionally, whether it’s drawing a tear or getting a chuckle

4)      Consider your brand’s positioning before committing to a theme / topic

5)      Root your message in powerful insight (e.g. losing your hair is very scary for most cancer survivors)

6)      Before you begin, implement a content strategy for roll-out across an integrated campaign

7)      Maintain the integrity of the genre – high-quality film is almost always better than reality-TV style with a  handheld camera

8)      PICK YOUR BATTLES – branded documentary is a BIG leap of faith for most brands and clients

9)      Ask the question – who is being impacted most? Focus on them in your story, not the brand

10)     Set success metrics in advance – here are some examples:

  1. Did people cry when they saw it?
  2. How easy will it be to align with and secure sponsors and partners?
  3. Was there an increase in social media response / traffic/page views?
  4. Did the number of volunteers and participants in the program increase?
  5. Did the documentary pique the interest of influencers in the space?

Take a look at the short-form Beautiful Lengths documentary on link below – I DARE YOU NOT TO CRY!

Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths

He's ALWAYS Got Something to Say

Say what you will about Kevin Smith, but he’s the mastermind behind cult movie classics like Chasing Amy, Mallrats, Dogma and Clerks. But he’s a changed man; not totally changed, mind you, because he still dropped tons of f-bombs in his SXSWi session, The Business of Kevin Smith, but hey – it wouldn’t be a talk with Kevin Smith without ludeness. Kevin meant to start out with a short intro to tee up his moderator for a talk about how he does business these days since he’s no longer making movies (by the way, he nobly states that “he has nothing good left to give as a director” so he quit while he’s ahead – WHAT A NOVEL IDEA!). But his intro turned into a 40 minute story about how his dad’s death changed his life. He went on to explain that his dad had a great life, didn’t want for anything and yet, he died screaming in his sleep (literally screaming). Now if that wouldn’t change your perspective, I don’t know what would. And it did for Kevin Smith. He vowed that day to do everything he could to avoid ‘dying screaming’ – to be at peace with himself and what he was doing with his life, above all else. I took that to heart in a major way. I saw a softer side of Kevin Smith at SXSW – and I liked it. The guy’s respectably smart, well-spoken and genuine. And he made Clerks with $27,000 – incredible!

I admit it – while I was poking fun at all the film nerds in the room as they waited anxiously for Smith to come out, I realized I was one….and proud of it! For all you fans out there, a walk down memory lane:

Clerks Trailer (BACK IN THE DAY!)




My first-ever SXSWi session was my 2nd choice at the time but I’m glad I re-routed because it made my day. The co-founder and CEO of Thrillist Media Group (Ben Lerer) popped by for a session about how to keep loyal consumers engaged.

Talk about knowing your core audience… Thrillist has been making headlines by “mingling content and commerce” (New York Times, March 2011), and industry experts have described Thrillist as “the future of media” (Wall Street Journal, May 2010). It’s a simple, right? Know your audience, never get too comfortable and for the love of God, just sit through the crap and give folks what they want already. As Lerer gave his perspective, he made it seem simple. That’s the thing about common sense, though – it’s really not that common. See, a traditional online content publishing model goes something like this:

But Thrillist is shaking sh*t up by creating its own media platform:

In December 2010, Thrillist launched Thrillist Rewards, a local e-commerce platform known for delivering editorially-driven, experiential offers targeting its young, urban male demographic. By partnering with local merchants, Thrillist finds and curates deals that appeal to its members, like all-you-can-eat ribs and beer. Not only are they making money with paid advertising, they’re also making money through JackThreads, a members-only online retailer that Thrillist acquired back in 2010. Thrillist now offers its user base exclusive access to JackThreads as an added benefit to subscribing. JackThreads was listed 4th in AdAge’s 2011 “America’s Hottest Brands” feature and as of 2012, is growing approximately 20% month-over-month. According to Lerer, JackThreads now generates more for Thrillist in one day than it did in a whole month in 2010, and membership has grown from 500,000 to 1.7MM.  The three brands (Thrillist, Thrillist Rewards and JackThreads) collectively reach over 4 million daily subscriptions, targeting a young, urban male demographic, locally and nationally, online and offline, through content and commerce.

Bottom line – they know their core audience deeply well, and it PAYS.