JJ Watt and Gatorade Teach Us 8 Lessons in Video Marketing

Gatorade must have somebody sweating in their marketing department because they get it. They understand what it takes to launch a successful social marketing strategy based around video. The premise of the campaign is “Sweat It to Get It”.

The sports drink giant has partnered with NFL Films for a new ad campaign aimed at students, and stars NFL heavyweights JJ Watt, and Eli and Peyton Manning. It's a follow-up to Gatorade's 2014 promotion where convenience store customers were pranked, and once again chides any consumer who wants to drinks Gatorade without working up a sweat first. In fact, the vending machines featured in the video ads will only dispense the sports drink once the students looking to buy have earned it through a mini work-out. Here are all 11 campaign videos for your enjoyment.

Gatorade: Make it Sweat - 8 Lessons in Video Marketing

So what can other video marketing teams learn from this new ad campaign? We take a look at what Gatorade did right, and some of the things that could have made it even better.

#1 Create a Playlist

Gatorade made a great move by making their content into a playlist. I discovered all 11 videos (which I’ve already watched at least three times each for the laughs) just from watching one of their videos. Just making a playlist isn’t enough though, you have to make sure people discover that playlist. I found it from the end slate of one of the videos, but you can also ensure that people find your playlists by sharing the links as part of the playlist and not a standalone video. This will help those viewers who enjoy it and want more, discover that content.

This series was also a great way to test out different kinds of videos to see what things work best in the campaign. With 11 in all, trying different techniques on each helps to discover which resonate the most with an audience and not miss out by only making one commercial. One simple tweak could change the dynamics behind a video and bring it from a zero to a hero.

#2 Time it Right and Collaborate

gatorade sweat it to get it ad campaignIt’s not just about who you collaborate with, but when you collaborate. Gatorade paired up with NFL athletes JJ Watt, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning to create this series. Not only are they high-profile athletes, but they also tap into multiple major markets with their fan bases.

They timed the release of these ads to coincide with the NFL pre-season, which gives them the added benefit of extra buzz, just as everyone is getting excited for the coming season. Tent pole events are great, but this content will have seasonal replay value not just for this football season, but potentially years to come. Consider ways to give your content replay value outside of a single event.

#3 Keep Your Videos Short and Sweet

If you want your videos to work well, shorter is still better. That doesn’t mean long form content doesn’t work, but it’s a lot easier to share a message that’s shorter. Out of the 11 videos in this playlist, all of them are under 2 minutes and more than half are under a minute. The whole series is less than 10 minutes in total if somebody is really into it, which makes the playlist very easy to consume and share.

#4 Optimize Custom Video Thumbnails

One complaint I could lodge about this campaign is the thumbnails. Gatorade certainly could have spent more time selecting and improving what was showing. On one hand, the natural screenshots do lend some viral credibility to the campaign. As we’ve mentioned before, an overdone thumbnail reeks of being an ad. But they could have still selected better shots that included close-ups of the people in the videos. It is no surprise that the biggest, brightest thumbnails with the most interesting action also have the highest views from the videos in the playlist.

Sweat it to get it Gatorade custom video thumbnails

#5 Humor Works Best Online

It’s no secret that entertaining videos work really well online, but making them is easier said than done. The setup is what really facilitates the humor in these videos. They have made these commercials relatable, yet unexpected. It’s funny first of all because the vending machines break down. That’s annoying to begin with, but now these ordinary people are faced with ridicule or advice from Rob, the creepy janitor. Then the shock factor comes in as the extraordinary athletes come into frame and either join in on that ridicule in some form, or lend encouragement as to how they can obtain the Gatorade from the broken machine. I promise you the next time a machine eats my dollar, I’ll think of Gatorade and have a chuckle about these ads.

#6 Optimize Descriptions and Titles for Discovery

There are some pros and cons to having a consistent title and description. In the case of a set of marketing videos like this, it’s primarily a benefit. It helps ensure that all of the videos are related on YouTube, so anyone watching one will see more of them in the sidebar and end slate as related videos. The one thing they will miss out on, however, is extra hits from search. The videos will rank very well for Gatorade, but the titles and description could have been used as an opportunity to rank for something more in search.

#7 Encourage Trends and Parodies

This one is a little trickier but I expect I’ll be proved right over time. This is an easily repeated concept, especially by prank channels. As the trend gains speed, which I would expect as the videos collectively have over 13 million views to date, this campaign has the opportunity to become the next Old Spice Guy. All it needs is a few big YouTubers jumping in on the trend and “everyone” will be trying to replicate these videos.

So consider when making your own videos that easily repeated content is to your benefit. It can not only help you come up with more content, but it can help get your imitated, which also spreads your brand.

#8 End With a Killer Call to Action

Gatorade Sweat it to Get it End SlateAll of the commercials could have stopped at the end of the action. But Gatorade went further and ended each with a repeated button mashing with the brand message on them. The action draws your attention to the button, which is already huge in the first place on-screen, and all of the action helps keep your eyes on it, burning the slogan into memory.

The video then continues to the end slate, which has links to more content and rather than immediately disappearing, the action packed thumbnails continue on long enough for you to click on them and get fed more content. If there is something you want viewers to see, be sure you make it big on-screen and repeat it often. If there is something you want viewers to do, ensure that the way your video plays out gives them the opportunity to take that action.

Let Us Know What You Think!

All in all Gatorade put together a comprehensive brand campaign with these videos that you can certainly learn a lot from watching. See what works for them and what doesn’t and use it to help make your videos sweat it and get it. What other things did you notice that helped these videos spread the brand message? Let us know in the comments below.