The Grammy Awards had taken a slide in the last five years. From publicity stunts to unseasoned performers; the show was starting to lose credibility and my desire to watch it.
While the Grammys were happening last night, I was catching a late dinner with my wife at a restaurant near our home. I saw one of the TVs playing the awards show, and dismissed the screen without a second glance. What was I going to miss? It doesn’t help when you’re not getting the audio to a music show either.
After coming into THINK creative group this morning, I learned exactly what I had missed. Ali and Joel came in and began asking me about all the great performances last night. Last night? I didn’t go to any shows last night. Oh, the Grammys? Why would I watch that anymore?
I was quickly told that there were in fact very good performances, and a number of them. From Beyonce and Jay Z, to Pharell, Stevie Wonder and Daft Punk, to Imagine Dragons and more, they told me about all the great collaborations and spectacles. They made me pull up the performance by Imagine Dragons, and as I watched I realized they were right. The performance was brilliant, combining rap and rock and lights and even paint. The whole office had gathered around my desk now, and we were all being taken further and further into the moment. The video was just reaching to the climax of the song when…
A commercial. WHAT? What happened to the rest of the video? Was there a glitch? Was that where this particular upload finished? Surely they wouldn’t put an advertisement that has nothing to do with the artists or even entertainment right in the middle of the actual video! But sure enough, after 30 seconds of watching people happily clean their dishes with a new soap product, the video came back to playing. We watched the last 15 seconds with a deflated wonder, as the plot and energy of the last three minutes had just been removed. And just as quickly, the video finished.
Slotting commercials into entertainment is nothing new. Everyone knows the American Idol winner will be announced right after the break, and nearly every TV show has four cliff-hanger moments that align with the commercial breaks. But breaking up a three minute piece? With no warning? That’s rather hard to take.
As advertisers ourselves, we completely understand the relationship between entertainment and the sponsors who make those events possible, but there are certain practices that push too far. The videos today nearly always play with an ad before the chosen video itself begins. To us, the viewer has already paid enough attention to gain access to their content. And so people continue to debate what is acceptable and what isn’t.
My final thought then leads to content marketing. What if the soap company had created a spot that talked about how much soap bands must use on the road, or how the grammy’s would clean all the glasses that people drank from? Very specific and perhaps more work right? This is the future.
Think of the superman campaign that Gillette ran as the movie “Man of Steel” hit theaters. Gillette gathered different people to ask “How Does Superman Shave?” since he’s invincible to everything on earth. The spots gained millions of self-directed views, gained widespread media coverage and created huge word of mouth. Or take Arby’s from this year’s Grammy Awards itself, who tweeted in reference to Pharell’s familiar hat, “Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs” which has already gained nearly 1 million hits in less than a day. Not every piece of content marketing must be expensive—you just need to be paying attention, have real conversations and be willing to take a few creative leaps.
As consumers continue to get better at avoiding traditional ads, blindsiding them isn’t going to help. Instead, marketers and brands are on task to create more relevant, useful and entertaining content that aligns their brands with positive public perception. At THINK creative group we also encourage and help our clients to create content that people want to see, not that they’re forced to view. People want content, and we must become better at creating it.