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Cannes Lions 2017 Buzzword: Authentic (And How to Implement It)

Did you know that there are an estimated 300 hours of video being uploaded to Youtube every minute? With so much video content in the world today, how can yours be different and stand out among the rest? One of our employees attended the Cannes Lions 2017 festival and one word was constantly thrown around amongst conversations: authentic. We gathered from her experience that videos defined by their authenticity were making the biggest impact and extending the widest reach. With our background on video production and marketing, we have mapped out how you can make your content authentic and stand out in the crowd.


The idea that you want your marketing videos to be authentic may seem a bit obvious, but this is easier said than done. With the sheer volume of video campaigns out there, your potential customers are quickly learning what feels real and how to block and skip your ads.


Some brands are far better than others connecting with their audiences with authentic video that doesn’t feel like a superficial quest for profit. We’ve outlined the best techniques to create authentic video and brands that excel.


Meaningful Storytelling

One of the best ways to produce authentic video is to practice meaningful storytelling. Instead of crafting fictitious events, use true stories to elevate your brand. In this advanced and ever-changing world, people are thinking more critically about what they read and watch. The uprising of “fake news” has made it even more important for the public to fact-check and be wary of information thrown at them.


That’s why your brand must stay current with the times and trends to retain loyal followers and get ahead. People are getting better at recognizing BS, so don’t try to trick consumers. Authenticity will exude from powerful narratives about real people and events that have actually occurred. Implementing truthful, moving storylines will pull on emotions and make your audience feel something as a result of your video. Use your creative power to evoke reactions — make your audience smile, laugh or even cry from strong emotions as a result of moving stories.


Google’s Year In Search 2016 is a powerful Silver Lion-winning video that packs a big punch for two minutes. It is a comprehensive piece that touches on important stories heard worldwide throughout the year. So far, the video has amassed a whopping 15 million views, giving us glimpses of trying times that tore the world apart and others that brought us together. These short clips are effective at giving a quick insight into important events that defined the year. The video is current and relevant, portraying honest events and snippets of evolving narratives. We are reminded of tragic events, important figures in the U.S. presidential election, important moments in sports and influential people who passed in 2016. This volatile storyline moves the viewer through a rollercoaster of emotion, feeling pain for those affected by horrible events, then hope for a better world, then admiration for courageous, gracious and loving people.


The message is strong and effective, tied up neatly with the music, narration and short text at the end: “Love is out there.” The simple call to action follows — “search on” — and encourages the viewer to use the power of Google to learn, be informed, lend a helping hand and to spread love. It is meaningful, moving and filled with emotion.




Brand Values

Something apparent is that consumers don’t buy products — they buy into values and ideas. That’s why when implementing any kind of marketing strategy, especially video, it is vital to stay true to your company’s identity. Align your video production and marketing techniques with your values and allow video to portray what is important to you and your company.


It is becoming important to ensure that you make your values known to define your brand in the public eye. You need to make clear what differentiates you from your competitors. Some brands are finding that in this day, potential customers support brands that are responsible, ethical and honest.  That’s why ethical business structure portrayed in video will build credibility over time, which consumers will recognize and be loyal to. Give something for your consumers to care about and stand behind that 110%. Create a call for action and applaud activism. 


Nike, a brand with a massive following, is successful at producing video marketing content that exemplifies brand values. Titled “Unlimited Courage,” received a Golden Lion Campaign award in Cannes this year. It is clear why; in 40 seconds, the brand beautifully promotes their brand values of acceptance and equality.


While including Nike’s well known narrative of courage and resilience in athletes, it portrays the company’s appreciation for all individuals. For example, one story the video highlights is the story of Chris. Chris’s hard work, determination and courage define him; not the fact that he is transgender. He pushed through uncertainty of what he may be able to achieve on the male side of athletics and didn’t let a simple quality like gender hold him back. Nike’s inspiring video of this impressive video appeals to the ever-growing idea of acceptance.


Emulate this style by making a clear, well-defined statement. Define your brand values, stick to them and promote them. Let your target market know what your company stands behind and encourage your customers to care about the same values. 


Direct Connection & Engagement

Video is the perfect platform to form strong connections and boost engagement. That’s why you need to give your brand a voice and use it. Connecting and engaging with your viewer is arguably even more important than your number  of views, likes and shares. You want to make sure that your brand is reachable, open and ready to communicate. At Cannes, we learned that in order to create a brand community, follow these steps:


  • Encourage feedback, whether it be positive or critical. Allow and encourage people to talk about your company in person and over social media. This allows for praise, growth and new ideas.
  • Be timely and quick to respond to suggestions and complaints. People want their voice to be heard and recognized, so it is important to take the time to listen to the people, whether they are your paying customers or not.
  • Suggest places for consumers to engage with comments, shares and other interactions.


Silver Lion-winning video “Evan” from Sandy Hook Promise made a very distinct statement and was an effective strategy to directly connect with the audience and encourage engagement and action. The non-profit organization’s heartbreaking short film is compelling and persuasive. It distinctly clarifies the organization’s values and purpose. With a direct call to action at the end of the film, the video inspires engagement  with their mission (to learn the recognizable signs of violence), and urges people to use the non-profit’s violence prevention programs.  


It was viewed over nine million times on YouTube and almost four million times on Facebook. The piece was clearly effective; over 58,000 people shared it on the social media site and has a conversation consisting of over 3,000 comments. The harsh reality of the video brings the seriousness of these situations to light .



Live Video and Behind-the-Scenes

Live video is an effective technique to create connections and foster engagement. It allows the public to get a real-time look at what your brand is doing right now. People enjoy live video because its organic and the real-time aspect adds authenticity. It doesn’t feel scripted or planned ahead, instead it is natural and comfortable.


Behind-the-scenes footage is another excellent approach to deliver authenticity in your videos. It is raw and provides your audience with insight that feels like they’re with you, experiencing the brand themselves. This humanizes your organization, attaches faces to names and portrays that your company is comprised of passionate, dedicated and hard-working individuals. Viewers learn more about how your teams operate and work together towards a common goal.


Both live video and behind-the-scenes can be broadcasted on a variety of platforms, including broadcast television, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. Social networking and other media platforms are progressively focusing on implementing tools to get your video online as fast as possible — use this to your advantage to connect directly with your target market. Live video also encourages engagement. Do this by asking your viewers to ask the talent questions in the comments, monitor and answer them or give other instant feedback. You have the advantage of social proof;


The 2016 presidential election was a perfect time to implement live video. Progressive ideas, controversial candidates and passionate supporters lead to many discussions and interactions online. Social media became a place to debate platforms and presidential qualities. CNN took advantage of this momentous time with live video by literally projecting elections results on the Empire State Building. America watched — over 24 million of us — as our next president was decided before our eyes. The video ended up being over 8 hours long and received over 409,000 likes, 377,000 comments, 106,524 shares. This live video was evidently successful in strengthening engagement and getting the community to interact while watching a memorable election.  


CNN Election Night in America

We’re projecting (literally) the election results on the Empire State Building. Watch as we light up the New York City skyline with the race to 270, winners of key states and the next US president-elect. #MyVoteFollow all the latest updates here:

Posted by CNN on Tuesday, November 8, 2016


G.E. publishes a lot of behind-the-scenes content on their Instagram feed. These short clips give insight into the advanced tools and technologies the brand uses for business. The videos, like one of a powerplant, show devices that and techniques that likely go far over their followers heads, but regardless are interesting even if you have little knowledge of engineering.





At the Cannes Lions 2017 festival, we learned that authenticity is key for success with any marketing video strategy. Implement strategies that big brands like Google, Nike and CNN use to connect with their audience in organic ways. Distinguish your brand with values and establish trust in video because consumers will buy into ideas.


Sophia Gribbs Marketing InternSophia Gribbs is a marketing intern for Green Buzz Agency. She reports on the latest trends in video marketing strategy.

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