From Brainstorm to Final Edit: Creating Engaging Branded Content

At the beginning of the year we were approached by Celluwipes to create a viral video marketing campaign that would create buzz around their product and generate greater sales. For a product as unexciting-sounding as “tech-safe cleaning wipes” (but with plenty of unrealized everyday application for the general public), we thought we’d need to get extremely creative in our approach. We decided creativity and humor were essential to reintroduce Celluwipes to consumers as interesting, appealing and directly applicable to the lives of millennials.

Watch the Full Length Video on YouTube: How Do You Poop and Text?

I’d like to give you an overview of the project from start to finish. Over the next few weeks, I’ll provide you further insight into the creative process we went through as a team to reach the end goal of a campaign I found both challenging and really fun to work on. I’ll introduce you to a variety of helpful resources we found (video tutorials, how-to’s and best practices) and my own insight gained along the way that allowed us to complete such an ambitious project.

Topics to Be Covered in this Blog Series:

  • Planning, Storyboarding & Script Writing
    • Writing a Script
    • Creating a Casting Call
    • Working with Talent, Actors & Crew
  • On-Set Gear
    • Cameras, Audio Equipment & Microphones
  • Audio & Sound
    • Pro Tools Sound Mixing & Editing
    • Foley in Filmmaking
    • Tracking Voiceovers
  • Video
    • Editing with Final Cut Pro X
    • Adding Special Effects & Compositing
    • Adobe After Effects: Creating an Animated Logo
  • Creating Branded Content

Our Approach: What We Were Handed and Our Rescue Plan

Taking a look at Celluwipes packaging, you might think we were doomed from the start. It’s very medical looking and generally uninspiring. However, we weren’t tasked with recreating the aesthetic of their packaging in our contract, so we had to figure out a way to inspire consumer purchases via other means.

Celluwipes Pack Amazon
Celluwipes promotional piece we created for the campaign.

When our contract began, Celluwipes had just been picked up by Meijer, a Midwestern chain of grocery stores in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Celluwipes is sold in all Meijer checkout lines. We were tasked with taking a somewhat-established product and marketing it to Meijer shoppers.

However, given the ever-increasing popularity of online shopping, we thought it would only be a job half-done if we didn’t try to pull in the e-commerce market as well. And that is what became our primary objective: Presenting Celluwipes as something handy and valuable, especially to the online-shopping millennials across the country. Celluwipes being featured at the checkout line at the grocery store almost does all the talking for itself. When you need them and you see them, you’ll most likely buy them. But for those who are not exactly aware of their need for such a mundane, albeit necessary product, we wanted to bring it to their awareness. We did that by creating a persona for the product in a Wizard, and with real life scenarios and entertainment.

Branded Content is On the Up & Up

One of the most influential pieces of branded content to impact our campaign ideation was the work the Creative Artists Agency did for Chipotle. I stumbled across what that work was in an article at Contagious. The article sums up the way in which branded content can expand a product’s reach and appeal through “people” stories versus “product” stories. It became clear that we were going to have to understand the stark difference between “people” and “product” stories if we were going to have a chance at successfully delivering the message of Celluwipes to a broader audience.

Chipotle Scarecrow
The sweet and sorrowful looking Scarecrow from the Chipotle adverts.

The creative head over at Big Fuel, Avi Savar, is quoted in the article as saying:

“Traditional advertising is about delivering features, benefits, and a USP through a product store, and then finding creative ways to connect that to people. Branded Content is sort of the reverse of this. It’s about starting with people stories first, so what are the things that can help brands connect with the hearts and minds of their audience, and then thinking about you can creatively link that to your product.”

And that’s just what Chipotle did. When I watched the series of videos they released, I couldn’t help but feel this was a company that was beginning to understand the needs of their customers. Whether you agree with the practices of Chipotle or not, they did an exceptional job connecting with those needs and connecting those needs to their product.

Squatty Potty Prince of Poop
The Prince of Poop in the viral Squatty Potty commercial.

Two more advertising campaigns to inspire our team were those by the folks at Poo-Pourri and Squatty Potty. The commercials they produced were lengthy (bordering on far too long for my taste), but they went viral. They connected their somewhat strange products to consumers by tapping into the sensibilities of the general public and identifying a need people didn’t necessarily know they had to a product that could meet it. And they did it with creativity and an engaging bit of entertainment.

Story Development: The Story We’d Use to Connect Our Audience with the Product

From the start, we knew we needed a spokesperson of sorts. We didn’t think we could pull it off as realistically as the Poo-Pourri people did; setting a charming young lady against various backdrops of parties, dairy farms and toilets. Nor did we think we could afford an animator to gorgeously put together scenes like those from the Chipotle ads. There was something about the Squatty Potty commercial we liked. And that was the far-fetched idea that ice cream comes from the straightened rectum of a unicorn. Wow.

We thought we could take elements from each of these videos, blend them together with our

Bethany Woodruff PooPourri
Bethany Woodruff, star of the infamous Poo-Pourri commercials, sits on a toilet at a cocktail party.

own unique fact-inspired fiction and create an entertaining and informative bit of branded content for Celluwipes. After two or three brainstorming sessions and as many rough drafts of different scripts, we decided on the idea of the Wipe Wizard, a kooky scientist-like wizard who would break down the germ-riddled day in the life of a cell phone and introduce the viewer to the importance of using a product like Celluwipes.

We wrote the script, storyboarded our vision, searched for talented actors, scouted out onsite locations, booked the studio time needed to film our indoor shots and hunted down toilets, costumes and science lab equipment. Preparing for the two days of filming was a nerve racking and exciting feat in and of itself. On set we filmed several takes of each scene, repositioned props and actors and shot several more times. With all of the filming complete, then came the editing process which, in hindsight, makes sense that it took longer than expected.

The Celluwipes Wipe Wizard badge of approval.

In the coming weeks, I’ll continue to show you what we’ve learned along our branded content journey so your team’s projects can go just as swimmingly as ours did. I’ll cover a variety of steps, from the initial brainstorm session to developing a theme or character, to script writing, to audio editing in Pro Tools, to video editing in Final Cut Pro X, to animation in After Effects to using Photoshop and making the final edit.

Stay tuned, and please leave your comments below!


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