As a fashion brand, WREN had seen video marketing success within niche circles but the understated release of ‘First Kiss’ in March 2014 changed everything. The video has been one of the biggest viral successes of the year so far with 77.8 million views, 1,392,296 Facebook shares, and 68,740 Twitter shares in just 31 days. It’s set to be among the top viewed, and shared, video ads of 2014 and has generated a phenomenal increase in sales and website traffic for the brand. We spoke to Melissa Coker, founder and creative director of WREN, about the impact the video has had on the business. But first, for those who haven’t seen it, or can’t get enough of it, here’s the video in question;
First Kiss: What Successful Video Marketing Looks Like
ReelSEO: What has it been like for you and the brand since the video went viral?
Melissa Coker: It’s definitely been a wild few weeks, very surreal. There have been many moments that I couldn’t have imagined in a million years such as the Jimmy Fallon parody. In fact of all the parody videos have been amazing, and it’s been incredible to see the different approaches people have taken. Some were silly, some were funny, some were gross, and it’s been great that some have gone viral too.
ReelSEO: What impact on sales and website traffic has the ‘First Kiss’ video had?
MC: We’ve seen a phenomenal increase in traffic to our website, an increase in sales and in general visibility, fueled by the fact that people are still talking about us. Sales increased by nearly 13,600% in the first two weeks after its release, compared to the week before we uploaded it. Traffic to the site also increased by 14,000%, with 96% of those visitors brand new. A month later, things have slowed down a little but sales are still up by an incredible 7,000%+ compared to before the video hit. Traffic to the site has decreased from it’s peak when the video debuted, as one would imagine, but the average site visit length has grown 112%.
ReelSEO: There seems to have been a little confusion, especially from those in the marketing word, about the way you rolled out the video in the first place. Did you deliberately shy away from a full brand launch?
MC: Every season we create fashion films which are part of our content marketing, and typically they are released to sites like Vogue.com and Style.com and there’s usually good coverage from that community. One thing we did differently with ‘First Kiss’ was to create something that appealed directly to the consumer, something emotional and engaging, and most importantly, shareable. It was important that it could be shared so we uploaded it to sites like YouTube and Vimeo so viewers could pass it along to others within their social networks. Our strategy was to break out of the niche fashion space and appeal directly to consumers, who may not be so familiar with what we do, but who would respond to the content we made. When the ad launched, the initial feedback that we got was that this doesn’t look like or feel like an ad, it wasn’t selling anything directly, it wasn’t boring, and many viewers dismissed the whole idea of it being a commercial, and that worked in our favor.
When Ellen DeGeneres and Bradley Cooper took the Oscar selfie that was seen around the world, that wasn’t an accident. It was taken on a Samsung phone as part of a content marketing strategy. It was an interesting and innovative way to promote a product in a subtle yet enjoyable way. The public also found it very relatable to them – I mean, which smartphone owner hasn’t taken a selfie of themselves? We wanted ‘First Kiss’ to be relatable too, and I think that’s the reason it was so popular. Most people have very fond memories of their first kiss ever or their first kiss with their partner.
ReelSEO: There was a very interesting trajectory with the ‘First Kiss’ video that unfolded before our eyes. First, we saw it on our social feeds, then we saw it being picked up and talked about by thousands of sites, and then those sites were writing about it a second time, this time in the form of a mini backlash because it was a video ad rather than an indie film. Were you aware of the negative feedback around this time?
MC: It was interesting because we never hid the fact that it was an ad to promote our brand, but we were aware of that reaction from sites like Jezebel. However, that kind of coverage continued the dialogue about branded content and that video advertising can take many forms, including ours. We also got a lot of feedback from viewers who felt very defensive of the video when many journalists were calling it manipulative. I’m happy that there was a mixed reaction initially because it kept the conversation going, a completely favorable reaction from all quarters may have led to the campaign fizzling out pretty quickly. As it turned out, we were being discussed in places we could never have hoped to reach with one of our earlier videos, places lie the Daily Mail, and the BBC, and the Huffington Post.
ReelSEO: As a brand, you are familiar with promoting content within the fashion community, but did you contact any of the news or viral content sites like Buzzfeed, Reddit or Upworthy as part of this video campaign strategy?
MC: We didn’t personally, but the people we used in the video were very well connected and they certainly promoted the ad within their own circles. We used actors, models and musicians because we were fairly sure people would want to write about their participation. With a cast of 20, that was 20 different channels in place to talk about, and share the video via social media. Damien Kulash of OK Go was one of our ‘kissers’ and of course his band have had some fantastic viral success. His manager sent the video out of many of his media contacts and that helped us get us some very welcome publicity.
ReelSEO: Why didn’t you upload the video to your own branded YouTube channel. All those lost views!
MC: To us, branding was secondary, we didn’t go though the A,B and C of what it might take to get people to watch this. It was uploaded to director Tatia Pilieva’s channel with a note in the description that it was a WREN project and that made complete sense to us to do that. We were deliberately subtle in our message, we wanted the content to speak for itself. The consumer is the director of their experience, they navigate around content they are not interested in so we wanted to give them something they would fall in love with. You can have the biggest marketing budget in the world but you’ll fail if viewers don’t like what you’ve done.