In The Wizard of Oz, the Tin Man sings, “Just to register emotion, jealousy, devotion—and really feel the part…If I only had a heart.”
Compelling and emotional storytelling calls for the creation of relatable characters. Just like the Tin Man, every story needs a heart. In order for your audience to register emotion (from jealousy to devotion), your characters must be capable of evoking it.
Miller Lite’s recent video marketing campaign involves a Tin Man of its own—more accurately, a Silver Man. Miller’s character, however, does have a heart: he feels stress, fatigue, and holds a humorous commitment to his profession as a street performer.
Because he has a heart, he has personality. And that’s exactly what makes Miller Lite’s campaign so successful—the Silver Man is but one character in a larger series of 40-second videos centered around personalities people can connect to.
The connection does not have to necessarily be as direct as rerouting women who hope to spruce up a typical girls’ wine night by suggesting they bring Miller Lite (but don’t be ashamed, girls). Nor does it have to connect so specifically to one-trip basket-less shoppers who can relate to fiercely committing to a 30-item juggling act. While these are effective, characters can also be relatable through a broader commonality: humor. Perhaps the audience merely finds the character laughable and entertaining, like the twins that enter the convenience store and copy each other in everything except the final act: one buys Miller Lite bottles, the other buys cans.
The bottom line is that emotion is evoked through character, and this happens every time in Miller Light’s “Bodega” video marketing campaign.
Perhaps the strongest protagonist that is developed in the series is the genuine, highly relatable store owner, Fred. It’s no surprise that the character with the biggest heart in this series wins the heart of the audience. He gives advice to his customers, is interested in their well-being, and finds a way to connect to each person’s quirkiness. According to Adweek, “Fred is pure gold, one of the most welcome pitch characters to hit screens in recent memory.”
Instead of plugging beer in a product-heavy, conventional way, Miller Lite gives its audience something that qualifies more as a mini-movie with limited brand placement. They encourage people of all different types that “as long as you are you, it’s Miller Time.”
Some characters from video ad campaigns are impossible to forget. Let’s try a few.
“What are you wearing, Jake from _____?” I bet you could fill in that blank pretty easily. Why? Because storytelling with strong, relatable characters is crucial in video marketing. State Farm nailed it.
Try this one: “IDK, my BFF _____.” That one is from 2007. Yep, you read that right. If you filled that blank in with “Jill,” you remember the story a brand (Cingular, now AT&T) told you eight years ago (and you likely feel pretty old right about now, too).
In Allstate’s case, they saw the benefit of character development so clearly that they actually turned an abstraction, Mayhem, into a living, breathing person. Talk about brands that get it.
You don’t need a big Hollywood video production budget to tell a great story. Content marketers have the ability to create their own characters as well. The most important takeaway from how crucial the development of characters is in storytelling is their connection to emotion. Personality, and some form of relatability, needs to shine through these characters, otherwise audiences won’t engage. If you don’t have the ability to insert a character into your written content, are you, as the author, able to serve as the source of personality and character? There are more opportunities and possibilities for character development than you might think.
So, have some courage, use your brain, and put some heart into your Tin-Man content to make it something great. Audiences will really feel the part.
To get started with your own branded video content marketing series, check out Skyword’s guide to video content creation.