When you’re advertising shoes that retail for $140 a pair, you need to think big, and Nike is no stranger to that type of large scale, high production value advertising. For the release of Six, a new pair of signature shoes for LeBron James, Nike created a custom YouTube Channel called Channel Six, and filled it with LeBron themed videos, including Chalk, The Story of the Six, and Six Tips.
Unfortunately, while they created some great content for the channel, they also missed the mark with many of the videos, so now it’s time to dive in and take a look at what makes a video successful on YouTube, and what makes a video fall flat.
The Story of the Six is a definite winner. It gives you a behind the scenes look at the features of the shoe and how those features relate to the way that LeBron plays ball. It also gives a face to the shoe as Design Director Ken Link and LeBron narrate their way through the history of the Six, and you can see the personality and the passion that went into each little detail. Sure, you could read all about those features in a magazine or play around with the nifty Flash Demo that they put together on the Nike site, but wouldn’t you rather just hear it from Ken and LeBron directly?
In addition, this ‘features designed to fit the player’ idea continues the trend that Nike started with the Be Like Mike campaign. Want ‘the best performing basketball shoe on the market’ that gives you explosiveness and the ability to switch lanes just like LeBron? Then you better get the shoe that was designed by Nike specifically for LeBron and those types of moves. How do you know that the shoe was specifically designed for those types of moves? Because LeBron is in the video telling you that it was, that’s how.
At just over two minutes, the video is long enough to provide valuable information about the shoe, but short enough to keep your attention throughout. Visually, The Story of the Six is also a nice mix of interesting shots and unique angles with stop motion, brightly lit product shots against a dark background, LeBron clips, well-framed shots of the shoe as Ken Link walks you through the different features, concept drawings and shots of LeBron filling the frame that all come together to keep you interested.
Whether intentional or not, Nike managed to sneak in additional information about the shoe without taking away from the focus on the features by using previous versions of the LeBron shoe as a backdrop, giving you a feel for the history of the shoe without having it forced upon you and extending the length of the video. Plus, as with other good behind the scenes videos, The Story of the Six gives plenty of additional information without over-selling or forcing the brand on you. It’s added value for those that are interested, and Nike understands that when someone’s watching a video about the history of a shoe, they’re already sold, and just looking for a little bit of extra information.
In contrast, the Six Tips series is a definite looser. It consists of thirty second clips that feature LeBron reciting Haiku style ‘words of wisdom’, and provides little to no additional value for the viewer. While these types of kitschy clips might work well as television commercials that are watched one at a time over the course of a few days, it’s not the type of content that a YouTube viewer wants to watch, and the evidence of that fact is seen in the abysmal viewership numbers that keep dropping with each new iteration of the series.
A better option would have been to provide valuable tips from LeBron James on how to play basketball like he does (and thus continuing the trend of ‘be like LeBron by buying his shoes’), which would have built up a dedicated following of viewers that were anxious for each new video so that they could further expand their own skills, but Nike tried to repurpose content that was better suited for other channels, and the online market reacted accordingly.
In addition, the first thirteen seconds of each clip are just the shoe spinning above LeBron’s head, three seconds of each clip are taken up by the video’s title, and another ten seconds are filled with yet another product shot of the shoe on a chair, leaving just three seconds for each tip. Sure, you’re guaranteed plenty of audience time spent staring at the shoe, but will anyone in that audience want to watch another video when ninety percent of each one is taken up by product shots and title slides? I think not.
Overall, it’s great to see companies embrace YouTube and its potential for a gigantic audience of dedicated viewers, but it’s important for those companies to realize that YouTube is its own unique advertising channel, and needs to be treated as such.
- Behind the scenes clip gives interesting and valuable insight into the shoe’s design.
- Length was kept short to match a typical YouTube viewer’s attention span.
- The Story of the Six doesn’t over-sell or over-brand.
- Six Tips didn’t provide any useful information.
- Repeat watch-ability and pass-along were decreased by the kitschy-ness of the Six Tips videos.
- Six Tips were over-branded and tried to over-sell the shoes.
- YouTube becomes a unique channel as brands create content that matches the interests and needs of a typical YouTube viewer and doesn’t over-sell or over-brand the product.