How Creators Are Integrating Brands Into Long-Form Content

This entry was posted in News on .

In recent weeks, Open Influence has examined how some creators have embraced high-production techniques and begun to pivot to longer-form videos

On the flip side, many influencers have turned to a different sort of longer-form content, opting for raw, unpolished takes that strengthen the bond between creators and their audiences—”unedits,” as Open Influence Vice President of Creative and Strategy Alexandra Mathieu calls them. 

“Creators have become equipped with so many platforms and features and tools, and they have edited themselves to fit algorithms to an extreme that has triggered the classic countermovement effect,” she said. “We are starting to see its opposite: refreshingly underproduced, long-form edits—let’s call them ‘unedits.’ Whether unlit, in car, multipart creator content series like Ressa Tessa’s Phenomenon, to plain couch, plain background, 10-minute TikToks with NotWildlin, creators are surprising by not conforming to the commonly touted ‘best practices’ with almost ‘outlier practices.’” 

OI Junior Strategist Chelsea Okoroafor added, “This new, unedited style helps audiences feel close—emotionally and almost physically—to their favorite creators. The random, caught-in-motion vibe of Subway Takes and the authentic, cute awkwardness of Streethearts NYC makes me feel like I am literally sitting in the subway seat across from the mini-interview or walking past the ‘streethearts’ on my way to the park. I like how the absence of cookie-cutter editing is the presence of realness in this new wave of creator content popping up on my feed.”

Those shifts have paved the way for another trend on the rise: Product placement finding its way into both highly produced, nearly movie- or television-like videos, and “unedits.” 

What’s Old Is New Again 

Product placement is hardly a new development. One of the earliest examples of the marketing technique came in The Garage, a 1920 film starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, and Molly Malone, which prominently featured the logo of Red Crown Gasoline. 

Other more recent examples from the world of film, which predate creator marketing, include BMW representing James Bond’s automaker of choice in that movie franchise, as well as Reese’s Pieces being fed to E.T., with the latter boosting the candy maker’s profits by 65% in the two weeks following its theatrical release.

However, over the past few years, a combination of factors has turned social platforms into entertainment destinations.

Technology evolved to the point where creating and consuming HD-quality video can be done via smartphones, allowing audiences to access content anytime and anywhere they choose.

And the updates for family and friends that dominated social media’s early days have shifted to messaging applications like Messenger and WhatsApp, as well as to platforms with disappearing messages, such as Snapchat.

All of this means that the feeds that used to be dominated by those updates are now the domain of creators and publishers, striving to share entertaining content and drive engagement.

The Basics of Product Placement in Creator Marketing 

One huge advantage that influencer marketing has in the product placement area over media like movies and television is speed: The time it takes for a creator to make their content go live on social platforms is a fraction of the time it takes to produce a movie or TV show. 

While product placement occasionally occurs organically (more on that below), the usual process is an agreement between a brand and creator that lays out specifics such as payment, how often the content will appear and for how long, how the partnership will be disclosed, and how the product being promoted will be featured. 

Creator Ceppe Pasciano, also a social media strategist and visual effects artist, told Open Influence that while he receives briefs from agencies, “The idea is the most important part in my videos, so it’s always mine. I provide them with an idea, and we usually work together to improve it.” 

When choosing creators to work with, the best practices are the same as those for other types of creator marketing campaigns: Brands should look for authenticity, engagement, and reputation, ensuring that the influencer can represent their product or service in an engaging and genuine manner, and the two parties should collaborate on the details. Sprinkling in a little paid promotion can’t hurt, either, as it can help boost credibility and visibility for both the brand and the creator. 

Mistakes to Avoid 

Brands should take care not to choose an influencer solely on metrics, as tapping the wrong creator who is not aligned with the brand’s messaging, target audience, and values could prove disastrous. 

While giving influencers creative freedom is a good thing, letting them do what they do to be successful, creators still need guidance from the brands about desired outcomes, goals, and specific messaging that they want the campaign to convey. 

The tone of the content cannot be too promotional or pushy, as a video that comes across as a straight advertisement will be shunned by viewers. 

Although conventional wisdom suggests featuring the product very early in the video, Pasciano uses a different approach, telling OI, “My videos are a little bit longer than others, and the product shows up always at the end, when the climax is high. I do not appreciate content where you see the product from the beginning and for every second of the video. When that happens, it means that it’s not a good piece of content, in my opinion.” 

Mind the FTC 

Brands and creators must also work together to ensure that they follow Federal Trade Commission guidelines on endorsement and sponsorship, such as: 

  • Claims about the product or service that are not legally sound cannot be included. 
  • Existing relationships must be disclosed, such as when the creator is an employee of the brand or related to one. 
  • In cases where creators receive products with the expectation of promoting them, this must be disclosed within the content. 
  • While product placement in creator marketing is not governed as tightly as in movies or TV, if there are any doubts about how the influencer’s audience would perceive relationships or how the creator acquired the product being promoted, err on the side of caution and disclose it. 

Enter AI 

Sapna Maheshwari of The New York Times recently explored how artificial intelligence is being used to virtually place products into videos posted by creators. 

Maheshwari pointed out examples such as a poster for Bubly sparkling water being inserted into a TikTok video by dancer Melissa Becraft, clearly visible as she danced to a Shakira track; duo HiveMind discussing bands while an animated can of Starry soda landed on the table between them; and a table of hair products from Garnier being added to AsianBossGirl’s podcast video on YouTube. 

Becraft told Maheshwari, “This feels like I’m making my own genuine content, but it doesn’t scream that I’m making an ad. There’s no obligation for me to talk about it.” 

Examples of Product Placement in Creator Campaigns 

  • The organic surprise: On Sept. 25, 2020, creator Nathan Apodaca, whose TikTok handle is @420doggface208, uploaded a video in which he rode his skateboard down a highway while drinking from a bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry juice, with Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” providing the soundtrack. While the video went viral and sparked a few campaigns, it was purely organic. Even the band’s Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks shared their own videos, both drinking Ocean Spray. 
  • Keeping up with the Kardashians: 10 seconds was all it took for Kim Kardashian to spur 120 million video views and over $1.5 million in sales, simply by holding an Air Up flavored water bottle. She didn’t even mention the product. 
  • Causing a splash: Personal care brand Nivea asked TikTok users to re-create the face splash it uses in its television commercials, and they dove in, with the #niveasplash hashtag at more than 115 million views at the time of this post. 
  • Juke box hero: Automaker Nissan introduced its Juke subcompact sport-utility vehicle in Australia with a branded hashtag challenge, in which users competed to be featured as voiceovers in a TV ad. The #improvisewithJUKE hashtag and music generated more than 34,000 videos and a 92.9% jump in brand awareness. 
  • Just dance: Video game developer Ubisoft backed its Just Dance franchise with its #JustDanceMoves campaign, which enlisted creators including Loren Gray and totaled almost 2 billion views in just one week after debuting. 
  • Keep watching: Finally, as he mentioned above, Pasciano kicks off these promoted videos for moving and storage service Europonente Traslochi and NeN Energia, which sells electricity and gas at a fixed monthly price, with colorful costumes and dialog, with the respective brands not appearing until close to the end of each video. 

Open Influence’s team stays on top of the latest trends and is here to help you maximize your creator campaigns. Open Influence is a leading global creator marketing agency dedicated to creating engaging campaigns.    

Reach out to us today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *