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Concept Help

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Guy CirinelliConcept Help
by on Dec 8, 2008 at 7:25:12 pm

Hello all -

I am producing a series of videos for a small computer company. The result that we are hoping to achieve is to show the viewer all the different benefits of a particular family of computers. We'd like the viewer to connect with the presenter as well as all the tasks he or she must tackle with their computer; for example gaming, email, web surfing, touching up photos, etc.

Showing simple "lifestyle" shots is the simple way out, but we are looking for some sort of "gimmick" that could help the viewer really connect with a product line. I suggested something similar to the AT&T "Philawarepraguecago" tv spot where the talent is sitting on a stool and his background changes - showing his home, school, work, etc. and he interacts with each.

Another idea would be to have a business man in his office print an email and walk through the doorway. As he walks through the doorway, the scene changes to a living room and he is dressed as a gamer and he starts playing a video game on his computer. Then he gets up and walks into a different room and now the scene changes again - he is home with his wife paying bills on the computer.

Does anyone have any other suggestions for "morphing" several different computer tasks into one fluid movement and all fitting into one person that the viewer can connect and relate to?

Any help is much appreciated!


- Guy

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Mark SuszkoRe: Concept Help
by on Dec 8, 2008 at 10:05:43 pm

The spinning video cube has been overused and mis-used for decades, but here is one place it would make sense to use it, each facet of the box is a window to a different way of working with it. Kind of a Rubic's Cube thing. Don't forget you can image a cube from inside as well as outside.

I really like the HP "hands" spots, where a famous person is shown mid-body and hands-only, talking about all the things they do with their laptop or tower, as they "juggle" various iconic objects and animated samples of what they're talking about.

The idea in your third paragraph about the guy walking thru the door and thru various "worlds" is too much like something that is already on the air right now.

Here's some free ideas to riff off of:

You talk about a "family" of apps or products: what if you had actors each portray or interpret those separate identities, as characters? Mom, dad, grandpa, kids, cousins, each one dressed and acting in a way that shows off that aspect of the product? The payoff shot is cramming these folks all together into a car or around a table or into a steam press, etc. to unify them.

Another model is the fast-food diner, with the chef serving up apps fresh and hot to the sassy waitress.

Or how about you have a chameleon walk past a row of the computer displays and instead of just changing colors, his skin keys (or is mapped) to reveal recognizeable motion footage of each of the apps working. A related approach would have one guy and one girl have all those things mapped on their bodies and faces using projection, while they talk in various accents and dialects.

Or a backwards anti-product approach? Actor who looks like they would never use the product saying they don't know what good all these snappy features are, the old fashioned way was good enough for him. This is getting at trying to find and define the typical user/buyer's identity and have the product identify with them and their style. Apple and MS Windows are using the hell out of this idea in their various campaigns right now.

Don't forget the power of story. If you can tell a guy or gal's own special story, and how this product is a part of it, in 30 seconds, you engage, entertain, and reward the audience, and lock the product into their consiousness. A great example currently running are the Columbia Sportswear spots about unusual iconoclastic people doing non-typical outdoor things, while wearing the products.

If the product can become a pivot point in a narrative arc for a character... like, the distantly separated couple keeping their flame of love alive long-distance... the idea man who gets up in the middle of the night and needs to write something RIGHT NOW ("our flash-ram-based fast-start technology means you don't EVER have to wait to boot up, just GO!")... you can kind of see a pattern there, you can tell multiple stories about one or two people and build their character arcs over the length of a campaign, or you can use different individuals every time. They could be real testimonials, or narrative composites.

A neat and irreverent but effective exaple of this technique is the tutorial series called "You Suck At Photoshop". If you're not familiar with this, and can listen with headphones, find these on YouTube and follow poor Donny's character arc thru the first five episodes and see if you don't also happen to retain a lot of new information on better technique for your photoshopping skills. Worked a charm for me, and made me laugh my butt off too.

There are too many reality shows on cable right now about house rehabbing and survival, maybe you could hook into that, and make a narrative that ties the product and apps into a "rehab" or "survival test" theme.

That's all I can come up with off the top of my head right now, but then again, I had a late night last night and am not firing on all cylinders today. Pump me full of Jolt cola and a big breakfast and watch out:-)

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John MorleyRe: Concept Help
by on Dec 9, 2008 at 8:06:59 pm

Mark Suszko: "some free ideas to riff off of: "

Mark has some great creative ideas here. My concern is that you're picking out the vehicle before you understand what needs to be hauled. One of the primary factors behind video failure (and the reputation as "fluff" that has recently started an extensive discussion in the Business and Marketing forum) is the "brilliant" creative that has little to do with the goals and objectives of the piece.

Using the word "gimmick" is a sure tip off that not enough "creative" thought has yet gone into the message that needs to be delivered. The first step toward developing a strong creative is to forget about the creative. Focus first on what it needs to accomplish: Is this a computer that meets all the needs of an individual? Meets the needs of disparate members of a business or a family? Helps work groups share files from around the world? Are customer needs focused on databases? Gaming? Shopping? Reliability? Cost? How is the company and this specific product positioned in its market? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the competition?

It's the goals and objectives of the piece that need to be carefully identified to drive the creative. The more work you do there, the easier it becomes to select the most appropriate creative approach. Mark has given you a fine buffet, now you need to get absolutely sure of what your client and their customers are ravenous for in order to make your selection.

"You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going because you might not get there."
—Yogi Berra, baseball player, manager, (b) 1925

John Morley

Author of Scriptwriting for High-Impact Videos

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Guy CirinelliRe: Concept Help
by on Dec 9, 2008 at 8:20:56 pm

Thanks, John. I guess I should have mentioned that we already have pages and pages of research of exactly who the customer is, age range, possible occupations, what turns them on, features and benefits, etc. We also have the exact message that must be delivered.

Now, we are just looking for a creative way to deliver that message (I used the word, "gimmick" referring to a "visual effect"). I see a lot of effects on television, websites and in magazines, but not one that would really work.

Mark suggested several that I really like (thanks again, Mark!) and they got my mind thinking in a new direction.

We're off to a good start!

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dijith panickerRe: Concept
by on Jul 18, 2012 at 5:31:37 am

Dear Sir,

It was interesting and greatly inspiring reading your ideas.
Our organization is looking out to develop a creative, conceptualized corporate video. We are a leading manufacturer of Rubber processing chemicals, from India. We still worry, what can be the base of our video. We are concerned to show our brand, the strong role in the industry, and would love to present it in highly creative manner than just to put everything in a list and to display our quality certifications in conventional manner.

Please advice,
Best Rgds,

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John MorleyRe: Concept
by on Jul 21, 2012 at 10:21:43 pm

Dear Dijith,

Thank you for your kind words. For your corporate video, consider telling a specific story that illustrates an overall benefit you provide to customers. If you don't have a customer that agrees to you using their name, use a fictitious company:

"The XYZ Corporation (a fictitious company typical of our real customers) had problem A, causing consequences B. Through the use of our product C, their problem A was solved and they were able to enjoy improved quality, lower cost, environmental compliance, or whatever.
To learn how your company's story can have a happy ending, contact one of our sales engineers now for a free consultation."

Flesh out the story with just enough facts and figures to show that you understand the current realities of the market and are focused on providing benefits to your customers. Customers care more about benefits to them and their happy ending, specifications are just details to work out once negotiations begin.

John Morley
Author of Scriptwriting for High-Impact Videos

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Bill DavisRe: Concept Help
by on Dec 8, 2008 at 11:42:50 pm


I'm a little confused. The spots you cite as targets are essentially branding-oriented TV ad campaigns. That kind of campaign builds brand recognition and implants a message about general utility or quality but it's typically NOT the kind of thing you do in order to describe detailed benefits.

I think it's dangerous to look at one thing (TV commercials) as instructive forms to do an entirely different thing.

I think you need to look at what the CENTRAL PURPOSE of your videos for this client will be.

Force them to give you a SHORT list of perhaps 3 specific goals for the training video. And if branding for a mass audience is NOT one of those items. Dissuade them from following examples from TV commercials - precisely because those goals are so different.

Based on what their 3 goals are - you need to create an instructional design that meets their ACTUAL objectives.

The production effort required to sustain a "TV commercial" visual environment over, say, a half hour training program might be totally unnecessary to meet the real objectives of training people about your client's real world computers.

Think about it this way. Right now, the Progressive Auto commercial girl is very popular. (The spot where she shows off her "tricked out name tag" ) She's quirky, singular, attention getting, and very likable - in occasional 30 second bursts.

If I had to watch her character narrate an entire 1 hour training video, she might well reach a point where I wished she would stop being so insufferably quirky and just give me the INFORMATION clearly and concisely.

Only you know how much information you need to present in your program. But if there's a lot of content - particularly a lot of nuts and bolts expository content - than the personality of the presenter (attractive, competent, likable - whatever) might outweigh the need to use a complex delivery theme or look.

Don't get me wrong. I love creativity on display. I just also realize that over-spending on a totally "creative" approach in a form where creativity is secondary to functional learning can also be a mistake.

Only you can tell.


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Guy CirinelliRe: Concept Help
by on Dec 8, 2008 at 11:56:23 pm

Thanks very much for your responses.

Mark, your ideas were very helpful. I love the idea of creating some sort of on-going series of videos that people would want to return and see how it resolves. I will definitely do a bit more research in those directions before my next client meeting. The other ideas were cool too - really got me thinking.

Bill, I'm sorry - maybe I didn't explain my situation clearly. The videos are not training - just thirty to forty-five second spots for their website that would compel the viewer to research these laptops a little further. We're just looking for the viewer to identify with one person and say, "that's me - that's the laptop for me" in a real short, witty and creative way. By the way, I do have them working on their 3 specific goals - believe me, they were all over the board on our first meeting!! FOCUS PEOPLE!!

Thanks again, guys!

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