It's articles like this one that give me the reputation of being a big meanie. But while I want to applaud any company, organization, or municipality that embraces online video, I still feel a duty to point out the more dismal efforts in the hopes that we can learn a bit about what not to do. And all too often, especially with government entities, it feels like they want applause just for including YouTube in their plans. It's simply not good enough anymore to create a Facebook page or a YouTube Channel and write the whole thing off as a success simply because you embraced new technology or marketing avenues.
The latest example of a poorly-conceived campaign comes to us from the state of Massachusetts. They want to stop young college graduates from leaving the state for greener pastures, so they've enlisted some homegrown celebrities to film some "stay in Massachusetts" commercials. They've got Boston Celtics star Ray Allen, culinary rock star Todd English, New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk, and many more.
You can view the campaign's official website here. And it would probably be helpful for me to include a few of the videos as samples too. So here's Todd English:
And Ray Allen:
And Kevin Faulk:
Celebrity endorsements have been around for a long time, and are a proven method of marketing. That's nothing new. So on the one hand, you can't blame the State of Massachusetts for going this route. But after settling on celebrity endorsements… it's almost like they simply stopped planning and strategizing.
There's virtually nothing entertaining about the videos, outside of seeing your favorite Boston celebrity get interviewed about why they love Boston. But what is the target audience for that? Who goes out seeking interviews with local celebrities about how much they like their home town? No one, that's who. Interviews are one thing… those work. But when Charlie Rose interviews someone… he digs deep and gets great insight from his subjects. When David Letterman interviews someone… he makes us laugh and has the guest tell us funny or interesting stories.
In fact, the only people who I can think of that might really enjoy these videos are Massachusetts citizens who already have a ton of state pride and don't plan on leaving ever. They have so much "school spirit" for their state, they enjoy seeing other residents rave about it. But those aren't the people leaving. It's the college kids, fresh with impressive degrees and a total lack of state-pride… those are the people this campaign should speak to, and I can't think of any reason why any of them would be motivated to completely change their minds because of what an aging basketball star said.
And I think the best proof to back up my argument–the best evidence I can find that the campaign doesn't speak to its intended audience, are the view count totals.
The Todd English clip I shared above was only uploaded two days ago, so it's not terribly fair to judge it by the view count. Unless the view count is 8, which it is. I would think there would be more than 8 state officials working on the campaign that would watch the video, but I'd be wrong.
Ray Allen's video was posted November 11, a month ago, and has a grand total of 58 views. Stop the presses.
Kevin Faulk's interview video was the oldest one, having been uploaded September 24. It has 793 views. And if you're aiming for a viral campaign worth any mention at all, then sadly 793 is just not going to cut it.
N0w, I certainly don't want to rip on government entities who are at least trying to embrace the YouTube culture. Because there are so many that are not even going that far. But a viral campaign–which would be necessary for this kind of "don't move away" promotion–has to draw in the people who need their minds changed. And somehow I doubt there are any college seniors in Boston that are up late at night searching for videos they can watch to help make up their minds on where to live.
Those college students are watching ads, mind you. That generation has no problem with video advertisements–but those ads are funny, scary, sad, or simply entertaining. That's why the Old Spice Guy did so well, or the Toyota Swagger Wagon. They infused such humor and quirkiness that people couldn't help but enjoy and share. That's simply not going to happen with these interview videos, because they are stamped with the "stench" of education and marketing.
If Massachusetts really wants to convince people to stop moving away, they'll have to do better than this. Especially when you consider the fact that cold weather and cost of living alone are valid reasons to move away from the state. And Ray Allen can't make it warmer in Boston in the winter, or cheaper to buy a house.
I do give them credit for creating professional-looking videos that look and sound great. And for using YouTube at all. And heck–even for using local people that undoubtedly have tons of in-state fans. All those things were good choices. I just wish they'd spent a little more time on goal-setting, creative brainstorming, and creating a viral hook. Since this is the state's first big YouTube push that I've ever read about, I'm willing to cut them some slack and hope they dive a little deeper into the online video marketing pool on the next campaign.
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