Video Marketing in 2017: The Year of Micro Video Content
In 2017, marketers embraced the video-first world more than ever before. They’re realizing that still photos are stale photos, and the GIF, though evolved in the world of memes and informal communication, is a tired file format that turned thirty years old. With only a few precious seconds available to capture attention on social media, marketers looked for more engaging, perfectly looped, short-form video content. Cinemagraphs proved to be the answer. Everyone from top brands like Nike, MGM Resorts, and HBO’s Game of Thrones, to non-profit organizations like Charity Water, and to small businesses shared branded cinemagraphs on social media as organic content, promoted posts, and ads. Even Toronto rapper Drake jumped in on the cinemagraph excitement.
Social Media Loves Video That Auto-Plays and Auto-Loops
It helped that the environment for cinemagraphs improved, too. Both Twitter and Snapchat jumped on the auto-loop train. Facebook published cinemagraph case studies, demonstrating how some of their ad clients use this thumb-stopping medium to drive real results in their marketing. They also served up a new way for marketers to use cinemagraphs: Facebook cover videos, a larger piece of social real estate that they could use to deliver brand messages right from the top. All-in-all, the digital cosmos expanded for cinemagraphs, and advertisers followed suit with their digital marketing campaigns.
We kept an eye out all year-round to see what brand stories marketers told with cinemagraphs. We even put them together in a monthly series. We were tasked with selecting some of the best branded cinemagraphs used in digital marketing this past year, and its proven to be a challenging one. There are literally thousands of branded cinemagraphs out there connecting brands to their audiences in new and exciting ways, but we narrowed down the list to just 10 examples of great brands using cinemagraphs in their 2017 marketing strategies.
Take a look at 10 of our favourite thumb-stopping branded cinemagraphs used in 2017:
1. Netflix’s Stranger Things
Stranger Things was one of the biggest television breakouts of 2016, and fans who fell in love with the Netflix series patiently waited for any sample of the second season that they could get. Netflix kicked off their promotion with a 30 second commercial during the 2017 Super Bowl that announced Stranger Things Season 2 would return on Halloween. Then, came the epic Stranger Things 2 trailer at San Diego Comic-Con, which featured our favourite characters facing new adventures to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. But somewhere in between, Netflix teased the new creature that would be terrorizing the town of Hawkins in a time lapse cinemagraph that they shared on social media. Our four heroes are frozen, watching the clouds roll by. When lightning strikes, the new evil creature emerges in the sky. Least to say, this cinemagraph unveiling Demagorgon 2.0 gave us goosebumps, and as we discovered while binge watching Stranger Things 2 in a weekend, for very good reason. But we do love the idea of streaming platforms and television producers using cinemagraphs to tease out special reveals in their social media marketing. We’re sure we’ll see more of this in film and television marketing in the new year.
2. Puma Promotes The Weeknd x Puma XO
By now you probably know that R&B superstar The Weeknd calls Toronto, Canada his hometown; coincidentally, the 6ix is also the home of Flixel HQ. But inherent national pride (see: bias) aside, we loved seeing Puma use cinemagraphs to tell a deeper story in their social media marketing. Placing a completely still Weeknd beside a busy flow of traffic leaned into the perfect lifestyle cinemagraph. It shared both the classic-cool story associated with Puma athleisure wear and reflected the importance of individuality, even when life rushes by. In this kind of cinemagraph, you can focus on the product while appreciating what the motion tells you about the Puma brand: define yourself, and make your own moves.
3. Apple Music
Apple Music is no stranger to great video content. Every week they create posts that highlight new artists in their Up Next series, have engaging Swipe Up Saturdays for Instagram Stories, and yes, are familiar with the world of cinemagraphs. This year, we saw Apple Music use cinemagraphs to put a new twist on the near-forgotten, but all-too-important, album cover. Whether to promote DJ Khaled’s number one album Grateful with the help of his son, Asaad, or make Fleetwood Mac look even cooler than they already are, Apple Music showed that cinemagraphs as visually dynamic album covers achieve three things. The first is that they extend the story of the artist, create more context for the song lyrics, and/or tease accompanying music video visuals. The second is that they refresh how audiences look at the album cover. With more people subscribing to music streaming, it’s less likely that they’ll hold a CD in their hands; that means music album cover art is no longer a tangible experience. So, it’s up to companies like Apple Music to create a visual experience that their audience can hold onto…but with their eyes. Which leads to our third point: cinemagraphs fit really nicely in content-heavy strategies, which, in the case of Apple Music, is already filled with micro-videos of interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, as well as exclusive photoshoots. Apple Music offers up cinemagraphs that say more, but also finds a nice place between all of the photos and videos in their feed.
4. Brooks Brothers
Brooks Brothers wants you to know that their merino wool sweaters are breathable, stylish, and easy to take care of. They also want to let you know that they’re unafraid of adding a little personality in their advertising, which is why they enlisted Instagram star Mike Melia to produce a series of cinemagraphs for an integrated marketing campaign. The cinemagraphs – which star Mellia – were used on both social media and digital displays in Times Square to promote the retailer. While cinemagraphs are certainly an artistic medium, Brooks Brothers embraced oddity for their living photos. For example, the above cinemagraph uses an endless loop of sheep, while Melia stands perfectly still, unbothered by what’s occurring before him. In other examples, Melia is effortlessly balancing a spinning tennis racket, or repeatedly petting a sheep. These are the kind of thumb-stopping visuals that entice users to keep watching over, and over, and over again. Learn more about the Brooks Brothers cinemagraph campaign here.
5. Live Nation
Concerts are a sensory overload, in the best way possible. Roaring crowds, screaming fans, LED flashing lights, and confetti cannons are just some elements you’ll encounter at a show. Even when it is chaotic, every person at the concert will find a moment to appreciate; perhaps it’s a high kick by the lead singer, or the beauty of seeing a million cell phone flashlights lighting up the sky while everyone sings together. Live Nation used cinemagraphs to capture those memorable moments, make them live forever, and promote some of their largest tours in 2017. Whether it’s Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz shredding guitar in the middle of a pyrotechnic-rimmed runway, or Janet Jackson performing in the middle of a spotlight, Live Nation showed in their Facebook Ads the special moments that make live concert events great experiences and better memories that will last a lifetime.
Creating great branded cinemagraphs for marketing campaigns might be challenging for some businesses. One of our biggest tips is to use the motion to create a scene that your customers can identify with, and demonstrate how the product becomes a part of their lives. Adidas regularly uses cinemagraphs across their social media to emphasize how their brand integrates with a healthy, active lifestyle. In this example, adidas show a model doing yoga on the beach, fully dressed in adidas products. Without heavily emphasizing the brand in the cinemagraph, adidas presented an aspirational image that reflects the importance of finding moments for yourself in your busy life. The gentle waves of the ocean make you feel relaxed, and wish for this kind of experience.
7. Sprite #YourThirstComesFirst
— Sprite South Africa (@sprite_za) March 24, 2017
Coca-Cola-owned Sprite is a brand that values those in-between seconds; the ones where we decide to push harder in our workouts, win a basketball game, or, as per the Sprite commercial featuring Drake, find a spark of genius. This Sprite cinemagraph reflects those seconds, as the subject is endlessly drinking a cool, refreshing Sprite beverage. These are the seconds that you want to be stuck in forever, because you never know what great moment might come next. Savour it. Recharge. And make moves. One user even commented “Wow! The bottle doesn’t even empty”, indicating how audiences become mesmerized by cinemagraph stories, and watch them endlessly.
3 DAYS LEFT OF TREAT RECEIPT! Bring in your same day receipt after 2PM to get a Grande Frappuccino for just $3. (until Sept 4) pic.twitter.com/97CadiWiVd
— Starbucks Canada (@StarbucksCanada) September 2, 2017
It’s no secret that Starbucks is a master when it comes to social media. They created the most Instagrammable beverage, the Unicorn Frappucino (followed by the Zombie Frappucino and the Christmas Tree Frappucino), defined the phenomenon that is the warm, cozy sweater #PumpkinSpiceLatte trend (going so far as to starting a Pumpkin Spice Latte Twitter), and even made coffee a holiday event to look forward to with their Red Cups campaign and seasonal flavours. A big part of their success comes down to Starbucks’ impressive use of bright, engaging visual content across their social media marketing that is timely, puts product first, and is always consumer-focused. Cinemagraphs naturally helped evolve this story for Starbucks while staying fun, colourful, and eye-catching. It’s exciting to see Starbucks add the medium to their content mix for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter ads. We’ll definitely be seeing more cinemagraphs from Starbucks in 2018!
9. Land Rover
Attracting those who favor exceptionally-appointed adventures. #RangeRover
— Land Rover USA (@LandRoverUSA) September 26, 2017
Fact: cinemagraphs work for any vertical, including the automotive industry. One of the earliest cinemagraph case studies even shows how Mercedes-Benz generated higher brand awareness using cinemagraphs as Instagram ads. Automotive brands can use cinemagraphs to not only show off the car design, but to also show how their consumers can experience the vehicles in their day-to-day lives. Land Rover used cinemagraphs across their social media to highlight how their vehicles are both luxurious and a fit for their target market. In the above example, the headlights turn on, revealing a soft mist in the dark of the night. Land Rover showed the prospect of going on an adventure in the eerie abyss, appealing to the thrill-seekers out there. In other cinemagraphs, like this one shot by Flixel Wizard Mario Sahe-Lacheante, Land Rover focused on the sleek design of their car.
Cinemagraphs and the fashion world go hand-in-hand. Flowing hair, sparkly jewellery, dresses that move…there are so many directions that any fashion company or retailer can take when creating branded cinemagraphs. High-end retailer Nordstrom, which focuses on beauty, fashion, and lifestyle in their social media marketing, started using a lot more micro-video and looping video content on Instagram over this past year. Everything from steaming lattes to cozy days were captured in cinemagraphs, inspiring their audience every step of the way. Then, came the skirt that sparkles, while the model stays casually still. This is an example of a cinemagraph that makes your social media shine, creates some serious fashion envy, and appeals to the millennial audience. After all, a 116 year-old retailer like Nordstrom doesn’t hang around without evolving their marketing strategies and staying in the customer mindset. Nordstrom knows their audience wants to see well-composed, aspirational content, and presents in the form of snackable video content.
We can’t wait to see what stories brands will use cinemagraphs to tell in 2018! To get more inspiration on creating great Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter cinemagraph ads, take a look at the Advertising gallery on flixel.com. You can also learn more about how cinemagraphs drive results in digital marketing campaigns by checking out this cinemagraph case study series.