What’s Wrong With This Video?

If you haven’t already seen this, please watch. It’s only 1:47 long.

Q. What’s wrong with this video?

A. It’s brilliant. And that is what makes it so horribly wrong.

How is it, that in the 100 or so years that credit unions have existed, no CU executive, no ad agency creative genius, no anybody for that matter, has been able to articulate the difference between CUs and banks as well, as artistically, and as entertainingly as the 19-year old Canadian that did this video?

It took me a couple of Twitter tweets and an email to confirm that Larissa had indeed written the script herself, in addition to doing the stick figures and voice over. Not that it would have been a crime if Common Wealth’s agency had written the script. To be honest, I would have felt better had they written it.

Here are my take aways from this:

Marketing better learn how to communicate better. All this talk about “should we blog or shouldn’t we?” is moot if you what you’re blogging about isn’t meaningful and well communicated to the intended audience. Marshall McLuhan was wrong. The medium isn’t the message. The message is the message. Having said that, I’d be the first to admit that Larissa’s message would not be as powerful in a brochure. So the medium isn’t unimportant. But although marketers have learned that they can’t simply take brochures and put them online, simply slapping videos online isn’t effective just because it’s interactive.

Agencies better understand the concept of strategic enablement.
Where the agency earned its keep here is in bridging the gap between the strategy and the execution. After all, they didn’t do the execution (write the script, draw the stick figures, do the voice over) and it didn’t take a genius to come up with the strategy (just read a few of the thousand blogs out there all preaching about how marketers should be doing social media). There may be a better term for it, but I think of what the agency did here as strategic enablement.

Every CU marketer in North America should be looking at this video and yelling at their agency “Find me a Larissa!” Good luck to those agencies. I don’t think that many of them are going to find her. What’s worse, few of them understand that they add the most value to the marketing equation today not by preaching the need for new strategies, nor by doing the dirty work at the other end, but by creating the capability that enables the new strategy to happen.

I know this concept is fuzzy. I’ll keep working on it.

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15 thoughts on “What’s Wrong With This Video?

  1. Working for a credit union as a web analyst, I was shocked by this video. This speaks to young people in a way they will understand. Bravo!

  2. Ron, as I was reading this post, I was vascilating between disagreeing with you and violently agreeing with you. 😉

    You are definitely on the right track here. The genius of this video is that it is real, authentic, and is done by Larissa herself. There is no filtration, no corporate-speak. You can’t fake that realism. (There will never be a Realism filter that marketing departments or agencies can apply in Photoshop.)

    Indeed, the true brilliance of what Tim McAlpine and Currency Marketing have done is given the platform for this authentic voice to shine through. As in all relationships, it’s not about bragging about how great you are, it’s about asking, “how can I help YOU become even greater than you already are.”

    Here is good news: Even in bigger organizations, you have Larissa-type customers. Even more importantly, you have Andy-type and Matt-type employees. These “Andy” and “Matt” employees know who the “Larissa”s are, and what makes them tick. Good F.I. managers will enable these conversations, then stand back (hence the stupidity of shutting down communication channels at the workplace such as MySpace, Facebook, twitter, etc. etc.).

    I know what you are getting at by saying “strategic enablement”, though that’s a little too corporate-speak. A different way to say it is “make your customers/members the rock star” (although equally important to make your employees the rock stars of the show too). But it’s not enough just to say “you are awesome”. It needs to be done in a way that is reinforcing in some way to the institution itself, whether its in publicity, dollars, reputation, etc., and that’s where the strategic part comes in. I hear you, Ron! What’s the right word? I volunteer Rockstarstrategery-enablehood. But I bet you’ll come up with something smoother. 😉

  3. Brilliant. I forwarded the link to my brother-in-law, who manages the Sligo Credit Union in Ireland. Something like this has the potential to go viral – and it should.

    All the best


  4. We immediately put it up on our CU blog. This is simplistic genius, something you don’t see too many times.
    And to think it didn’t go through any Senior VP or committee structure, my God. I want to hear from the other side as to why this would never work for them. Sure….

  5. This video sells the Credit Union concept not only to young people, but to baby boomers as well.

    Oh how we insist on segregating young and old in this country!

    I am an older baby boomer. There was not one single word, expression, visual or image (e.g. the iPod) that fails to communicate to all generations in this video.

    Once again, the KISS principle wins the day.


  6. Pingback: What is really wrong with this video. « The CU Skeptic

  7. Is “Young & Free” really a blog?

    Shouldn’t we, as industry insiders trying to talk “strategy” with CEOs, replace “Content Management System” (CMS) for “blog?”

    There’s a CEO perception that blogs are for blowhards.

  8. @JP: Some good points there. First off, I would say we should just call it a “web site”. Not sure CMS furthers execs’ understanding.

    Second, I’ve got to say that there’s a lot of tangible evidence out there supporting that CEO perception.

  9. Thanks dropping my name in there Morriss.

    Larrissa has a great talent at connecting with people. The video has huge potential for becoming a viral hit. It left me laughing and was done in a way everybody can understand. The Bankerspank videos were funny, but only to people who already had knowledge of how CU’s are run. This has the potential to really change peoples’ minds.

    The fact that it didn’t go through the usual channels for approval by the execs is one of the reasons its as good as it is. It is directly from the mouth of somebody just like me or you or anybody else. It isn’t a corporate-ized, marketing driven commercial. It speaks to people, and that’s why its so good.

  10. Magic isn’t it? Hardly before the soundtrack has faded out on this satraightforward, well executed piece of communication that anybody would relate to, someone decides its aimed at “young people” and another that its “rockstarstrategy-enablehood” (I take it you are joking Morriss, because if you aren’t things are worse than I thought!). What a load of bollocks!

    In fact its good honest communication (which is why the marcoms guys don’t “get it”) that works for anybody who doesn’t understand the difference between banks and credit unions – now they do!

    Some of the key problems with marketing these days are encapsulated by this film and the reactions it provoked.

    Marketers are so obsessed with dressing up shallow promises to look like a French tart that they don’t recognise the beauty of plain truth when it slaps them in the face. Agencies and marcoms people are preoccupied with the strategy “buzz” and have overlooked that their job is to communicate and until they can do it like this nobody’s going to trust them with strategy!

    I feel better now, thanks Ron.

  11. @phildarb – agreed – the magic of this piece is that it is plain, simple, humorous, and most of all, authentic. When I used that silly word, I was trying to describe what companies and their marketing agencies need to do to enable their own versions of Larissa. You know they need a fancy strategery word to describe “giving your customers a platform to let their authentic voice shine.”

  12. I love the simplicity. And I like the low-tech nature of the spot. I wonder if that’s the new direction. The Google Documents video uses the same technique. It’s refreshing to see, in lieu of all the hi-tech imagery we’re used to seeing on the Web and TV.

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