Another fine example of branded content over the past few years is Ken Block's "Gymkhana" ads with DC Shoes. DC Shoes has taken the approach by Red Bull and GoPro and has decided that they would make amazing content that yes, would feature their products, but not be intrusive at all. The goal: to show you something that you dream about doing if you had complete freedom in a vehicle and wicked skills behind the wheel. The Gymkhana Project, as it is known, has taken Ken Block into some nifty closed courses, but nothing as expansive as the "How did they get permission for that?" streets of San Francisco.
DC SHOES: KEN BLOCK'S GYMKHANA FIVE: ULTIMATE URBAN PLAYGROUND; SAN FRANCISCO
Sit back and enjoy this amazing ride through an almost abandoned-looking San Francisco:
Not only is DC Shoes getting a lot of pub on this, but so is the Ford Fiesta. And GoPro and Red Bull, of course, among others. You sit there and wonder how it's all possible: the number of brands attaching themselves to this kind of content tells the story. That Ken Block was able to get some of the streets closed off for this maniacal driving is also pretty awesome.
I mean, you want to see this car go through some of the hilly streets of San Francisco? Of course you do.
What I particularly like about all this is that Block and DC Shoes are not merely content in showing a car drive around the course from some static shot off the road. There is loads of technique and creativity here: multiple camera shots and angles from all sorts of different perspectives.
There are some nice split screens and slow-motion, along with that "VHS roll" effect that makes it look, oh, "We just found this lying around somewhere. Glad no one recorded over it!"
And then there's Styx. "Come Sail Away." Your brain thinks it sucks but your heart knows it doesn't.
What DC Shoes has done with this Gymkhana series is make it an event. It's not every week or every month, it's pretty much once a year. So now it has the feel of something big every time a new one is released. They come out with content featuring their shoes in a lot of X-Games, BMX, skateboarding, etc. type of stuff year-round, but this is their "Super Bowl" ad, or we could just say it's their Super Bowl, period.
Take a look at one piece of their infographic, which contains a lot of great stats:
This new one is showing anywhere from 3 to 5 million views since it was released yesterday, depending on where you find the video. I'm guessing this is going to "cross over" for people who don't necessarily seek out daredevil racing/sports videos. San Francisco provides a great backdrop for this kind of content, where people just drawn to the city itself will be interested in watching.
Give this a look. You won't be disappointed.