Music videos and advertising have long since gone hand in hand. Being in my late thirties, I can vividly recall being aware of the controversy that surrounded the Clash and their Levi’s ad, and there was similar uproar every time Bob Dylan decided he needed a bit more cash and popped up in those Victoria’s Secret or Super Bowl adverts. These days, of course, people reserve their indignance for Christmas ads and supermarkets, leaving the musicians to eek out their money any way they can.
I would suggest that there’s a lot that content marketers can learn from the music industry (in fact, I have suggested it already – check out my article on content and musicians here). It’s well known that the music industry is in trouble, but – as always happens when financial collapse looms – the creative people are finding ways to survive. The indie community (I’m looking at you, Deerhoof) have been working out clever ways to use the internet to promote their art for the best part of a decade, content strategising themselves into a better position without realising that ‘content strategy’ was even a thing.
I’m all for this fast thinking – this doing-rather-than-talking-about-doing way of working, so I was delighted when Three Mobile allowed me the opportunity to wander off with an iPhone 6 on their network and see what could be done. From a creative perspective, the key was that I had very limited resources with which to do it – a week of time, a basic tripod and a 4G connection to Apple cloud (somewhere to store the rather data-heavy videos as I was filming them). As with many interesting creative pieces, I was also at the mercy of things beyond my control. In the UK, that mainly means the weather, and sure enough it rained for the entire week of filming.
As it happens, I love having to adapt to what you might call ‘constrained creativity’, so I tried to use the weather – the lights in the puddles, the rain dripping from the bridge, the dark clouds brooding over the Thames – to my advantage. The initial idea wasn’t to make a music video at all (it was an exercise in content marketing the iPhone 6, after all), but the more I fiddled with the settings and began trimming the video in the iMove app, the more I realised that there was something I could do with that Grizzly Folk song in particular. The decision was fully made when I found you could use the ledge of a bus or train window as a makeshift glide track. At that point, the video became about commuters, which just happened to coincide with news that the commuters’ network of choice in 2014 was Three Mobile. Serendipity can be so sweet.
Again, it was wonderful that Three, as a client, went with the idea, and even more delightful when we found out that this was the first video to be filmed and edited entirely on the iPhone 6. Without wanting to sound too romantic, I was also pleased that the song and the video finally found each other. It’s a very satisfying feeling when two pieces of the same jigsaw click together, especially when one of them (the song, in this case) has been floating around with nowhere to go for so long.
I’m also delighted that the piece is getting such a good response. It goes someway towards proving my theory that branded content works best when the brand positions itself as facilitator rather than subject, allowing the creators to get on with what they do best and helping to dilute the noise of the internet with little tidbits that are genuinely worth a share or two. A thoroughly enjoyable project to be a part of. Thanks, Three!