This list of funny B2B videos includes two of my own projects, one each from Cisco and IBM, which seems both reasonable and in compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley. To keep the comparisons somewhat fair, I’m going to exclude videos for smaller ticket products (e.g. FedEx, Nextel, Staples) since their addressable markets are much closer in size to B2C, affording much larger production budgets. The opinions below are my own, as my company officially does not comment on rumor or comedies.
1. The Cart Whisperer takes an idea we recognize from a Redford film and applies an absurd context that’s only remotely relevant to its sponsor VeriSign. If during the approval process someone in marketing gripes, “What in the heck does this have to do with our product?,” you’re off to a great start. This enjoyable experience continues on the microsite NoMoreAbandonedCarts.com, where we’re invited to participate by uploading our own photos of abandoned carts.
2. While august Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs don’t need to lean on comedy to build a global reputation, that’s not the case for some smaller businesses in the banking ecosystem, like the regional repo-man.
3. I’m pretty sure Art of the Sale was the first B2B comedy on YouTube. My partner Scott Teems and I created it in the summer of 2006, featuring sales vp Bob Hoey as himself. Hoey began his acting career in 2004 starring in a comedy short “Z On Demand” which was released direct-to-DVD (we copied discs for each regional sales meeting) and on the company intranet. Since I couldn’t get a comedy video approved initially, I kept the financial risk small by offering Scott $400 to direct/edit/film the spot. I think his fees have gone up a bit since his feature film won SXSW.
4. I don’t like potty humor, but David Meerman Scott showed me a completely new angle in this brilliant CWS ad. I’m sure the production benefited from a TV broadcast budget, but I’m still including it in this list because its for a narrow industrial market. For more background, see this previous Social Media B2B post.
5. Microsoft chose the classic comedy approach of juxtaposition to sell to advertisers. In this metaphor, the man and the woman characters in the relationship represent advertisers and consumers, and to be sure we’re not confused, the symbolism is spelled out — on their t-shirts.
6. Kinaxis used the same dating/relationship storyline to poke fun at a supply chain management rival, but thankfully Sally Ann Perkins is not wearing a monogrammed t-shirt. This kind of humor is perfect for its target – inside jokes are flattering to your audience, and can build rapport by making fun of a shared pain. Clare McDermott told me when prospective customers meet Kinaxis’ representatives at trade shows, they say that watching the video has made them feel like they already know the company. There’s your ROI.
7. Also early to YouTube in October 2006, Dell jumps in on the JibJab genre. It’s very well executed with sharp graphics/animation and music, and a script full if inside geek jokes. I’m guessing they didn’t get script approval from Larry.
8. My hard-and-fast rule of never including a rap video on a top 10 list was softened to more of a guideline thanks to intern Greg Justice. When original music, clever lyrics and Chuck E. Cheese’s references blend into an artful production, the genre is timeless. I love Woot’s rhyme, jokes and the honesty.
9. Keeping product specifics out of a video is always a good idea, particularly when the video goes live a few weeks before the launch. And those aren’t my words — that’s what my manager told me after reviewing an early draft of my script. So, instead of mentioning details of Cisco’s Videoscape announcement at CES, we empathized with the lonely TV set.
10. “People just didn’t seem to like me” is one of the touching admissions in this beautiful example of personification. This clever story resonates with us, because we’ve all experienced this feeling. It creates curiosity and delivers surprise. Hats off to Mr. W.
Let me know in the comments if there are other B2B videos that have made you laugh your way to a call to action.