Teachings from Top Gear: Brand Storytelling

Teachings from Top Gear: Brand Storytelling

What can video marketing creatives learn from the new Top Gear?

Having eagerly awaited the launch of the new Top Gear, I wonder if they haven’t made a few errors, at least to start with. It’s a risky strategy to leave the format the same whilst swapping in new presenters (characters really) when the old characters were both loved and hated, but crucially, well defined and understood.

I’m going to be totally objective now and explain what, as video marketers, we can take from the somewhat disappointing Episode One of the new Top Gear…

The biggest mistake was the total lack of ‘back story’. As audiences, we need a reason to care, and therefore, get us to engage with the characters, the story, the cars. Did we care when our celebrity hosts were being drenched in their open top Reliant Rialtios? Not really. Why not? It’s simply not enough to stage a stunt when there’s no back story, no actual reason, for them to be doing this.

Old Top Gear was brilliant at developing a back story. The plot would have gone along the lines of: Jeremy deciding to cut the roof off his three wheeler in the misguided belief that the weight reduction would help him win the race, or some such thing. Then when it all goes horribly wrong and he’s soaking wet, probably wearing a WWII fighter pilots helmet for good measure, we get it and we laugh. It gave the story depth. It’s just a bit of back story, but with that, we the audience are just a bit more engaged.

This isn’t rocket science by any stretch of the imagination, but you overlook it your peril. Did the new Top Gear producers think the brand was big enough and so it doesn’t matter? The audience will decide.

Now when we talk about our brand, service or products, it’s quite possible something similar occurs with our customers. Do they care? Do they engage? Well that’ll just depend on whether there’s a reason to … a back story, a rationale, some depth.

One example of a brand that’s got this right is Virgin Trains East Coast. It’s original ‘Bound for Glory’ TV commercial shows a young chap going to visit his girlfriend’s family for the first time. Having journeyed by train, he then manages to get it oh so right with her less-than-receptive family. He conquers dad’s respect, charms mum and saves younger brother from getting into trouble. Even the dog thinks he’s great. As a viewer, you care about the character, you want him to succeed, you enjoy the humour and his personal success. And of course, you not only remember the brand, but like it.

So when you’re planning a video, which naturally you’ll want to engage an audience with, ask yourself: what’s my back story, what’s the rationale, where’s the depth?

If you need help unearthing your own back story and turning it into compelling video content contact VPoint TV. We know what we’re talking about.

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