What Happens When You Get Video Marketing Wrong

We know it’s not what you want to hear, but there are a ton of ways video marketing can go wrong. As we saw with Apple’s recent “Crush” ad, even massive brands “miss the mark” (their words, but it was what we were going to say, too). 

As Ad Age points out, it’s certainly not the only ad ever to miss the mark, but it is the one we’re going to focus on today. Here, we’ll explore what happens when video marketing goes wrong, and what you can do to avoid it from happening in the first place.  

Video marketing gone wrong 

Apple is known for a lot: innovative tech, inspiring creative, and, more recently, at least one ad that really missed the mark. Their 2024 “Crush” ad was supposed to showcase all the different capabilities of the latest iPad. They visualized this through the dramatic crushing, via hydraulic press, of instruments, art supplies, video games, sculptures, books, and more. When the press opened back up, the only thing left was the iPad. 

It was supposed to visualize the unlimited possibilities of this new tech, but the message it sent was … not that. Many viewers — creatives especially — ended up feeling like the ironically smiling stress ball in the ad: wide-eyed and, well, crushed. 

The ad was first shared on social media, but it seems the brand had planned to run it across different ad platforms, including television. Ultimately, after a lot of backlash, Apple apologized for the ad and changed their strategy. 

Read more: The Rise of Bad Digital Ads (and How To Avoid Creating Them)

What happened? 

If you take away the social implications of the “Crush” ad, you might just see a video of different items being smooshed into an iPad. But you can’t take away those implications. 

Especially at a time when folks are concerned about the growth and power of artificial intelligence and similar technology, focusing on human power is more important than ever to help your audience feel connected. Like our CEO Mark Douglas said at Cannes Lions earlier this month, “I think 10 years from now, we’re a society pampered with AI assistance all around us, but we’re still in the center of all that.” 

Based on the commentary we’ve seen about the Crush ad, it seems Apple should have taken the ad in that direction: showcasing tech and innovation, but centering the users themselves. And they’ve done this already! Later in May, they shared this video below, which shows different worlds that can be created on the iPad. But this time, the user is (quite literally) in the middle of this content. 

By taking the opposite approach, Apple left viewers feeling disconnected from the brand and its mission. 

How to get video marketing right 

Now that we’ve taken a look at what happened, let’s explore a few ways brands can do their best to get video marketing right. 

Take a look around 

What’s going on in the world? Is there a massive issue going on that’s adjacent, in one way or another, to your industry? If so, make sure you take that into consideration. Otherwise, it might make your audience feel like your brand is out of touch with the world — and thus out of touch with the audience you’re trying to reach. 

Understand your audience 

Audience-based conversations are some of the most effective ways to connect with viewers. But these conversations need to put your audience at the center. 

As of May 2023, a Statista study found that brands were struggling to connect with their customers. The respondents, broken down by age group, said a lack of relevance was the key reason brand personalization fails, followed by a lack of authenticity. Especially if you’re implementing a personalized ad strategy, you’ll need to center your audience segments. 

There are several ways to learn more about your audience, including by looking at existing data. According to a 2023 Statista survey, 86% of respondents use demographic data, 49% use behavioral, 44% use firmographics, 41% use lifestyle, and 32% use contextual. In addition, you can ask your audience directly by sending out surveys or polls through email marketing. 

Create ad variations

By creating different variations of your ad, you can capture your audience’s attention and personalize your content for specific audience segments. You can create variations of nearly every video element, including talent, voiceover artists, and on-screen text. 

Airing different variations of your content can help you understand which elements of your ad resonate most with your different audience segments. (We’ll talk more about how to figure this out in the next section.) These variations can also help prevent ad fatigue, benefiting both advertisers and viewers. MNTN Research reports that 67% of consumers want a variety of different storytelling approaches to avoid ad fatigue.

Test your content 

Once you’ve created different ad variations, it’s time to air and test them. You can use a multivariate testing strategy to understand which elements resonate with your audience (like we mentioned above). 

You can start by testing your broad elements, like your video style. This can help you understand whether your audience likes a certain content style over another. After that, you can continue to examine more elements, including CTAs, talent, and voiceover. 

Once you start testing, you can iterate future campaigns with the data you’ve collected. Then, each time you test, you’ll learn more about your audience, how they engage with your ad creative, and which elements resonate most. 

Optimize your strategy 

Once you’ve learned more about what your audience likes, you can use data to optimize your strategy and create purpose-built content. As you’re planning each new campaign, you’ll want to analyze the learnings from previous ads and tests to understand how to successfully optimize your campaign.

While you’re creating your overall marketing strategy, you’ll want to have overall goals and ideas — but you’ll also need to build in room for flexibility. Just like trends change, your audience’s interests and behaviors will shift as well throughout the year. 

And, like we saw with Apple’s ad, sometimes the campaign will need to be scrapped altogether. After the ad had already aired, Apple adjusted its strategy to mitigate the criticism. Of course, this wasn’t what they had planned, but it was a decision to reduce negative responses to the campaign. Now, they can take these learnings and apply them to future campaigns to create ads more geared toward their audience. 

Effectively plan your video marketing strategy 

Whether you’re creating video content for Connected TV, social media, or another platform entirely, getting video marketing right is essential. While there’s no equation to help you create the perfect content, you can use creative analytics, audience insights, and platform best practices to help guide your ads. 

But remember: even huge companies sometimes miss the mark with video marketing. (Cue “Nobody’s Perfect” by Hannah Montana.) If this happens to your brand, use it as an opportunity to reflect on your goals and adjust for future ad campaigns. 

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