We've seen a number of branded videos lately that advertise a product, but put the marketing in the background in favor of good content. Videos like the DC Shoes ad (Ken Block's Gymkhana 4), the Rise of the Planet of the Apes ad (Ape with an AK-47), and the Red Bull ads (for example, Danny MacAskill "Way Back Home"). Instead of shoving a product down people's throats, the brands behind these ads usually offer a lifestyle, a fun attitude. Basically, these brands put what amounts to product placement in their own ads.
You don't have to be selling a product to do this, however. You could be selling your town, or in this case, county. And instead of making it a boring travel journal, you could get five people who have never been to your county and have them compete in an adventure like "The Amazing Race," where all of the locales on which you want to sell your county can be represented.
Loudoun County, located in Northern Virginia and 25 miles outside of Washington, D.C., looks to do just that with a 9-episode web series called "Get Lost in Loudoun" beginning on September 27. The participants will do everything from rafting to playing paintball to making wine to hiking the Appalachian Trail. The videos will be produced by Visit Loudoun, the Loudoun Convention and Vistors Association. The group won an Emmy for their Heritage Series videos in 2008.
Here's the intro for the new series:
And here's a more detailed trailer:
This is a great way to advertise your town without making a straight commercial. It's fun, with the spirit of competition, and the things you want to sell are in the content of the show rather than being the stars of the show. It's like your old science class: it was more fun to blow stuff up than be told how it's done. Selling your town this way makes it an active experience for the viewer rather than passive.
The first episode is on Tuesday, September 27 and will have new episodes every Tuesday through November 20.