I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve never heard of street trials cycling and I imagine many people don’t know much about this sport, which is what makes Danny MacAskill’s Imaginate by Red Bull that much more impressive.

Red Bull has long been known for their extraordinary video marketing, and sponsorship of extreme sports the world over; and frankly, any company that is willing to put money towards helping a man skydive from space means business. 

The video below features street trials rider Danny MacAskill doing amazing bike tricks, and it’s a great example of video marketing and visual storytelling. In this post I’ll showcase why the entertainment-based video is a great marketing asset and how B2B marketers can learn from what Red Bull has done.

Marketing an Experience

On a basic level Red Bull has branded the street trials entertainment experience. People love watching impressive feats by athletes on YouTube and Red Bull presents a video containing exactly what their target market loves to watch. It’s less about communicating a product message, and more about delivering the content their audience would pay to go see. The brand has done this especially well because they’ve wrapped up the entertainment package and sealed it with a storytelling bow.

The video, at its core, is about Danny MacAskill living out his childhood dreams in a fantasy world full of toys. We’re introduced to him as a child in his Dunvegan home on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, playing with his toy bike and about halfway through the video his gran beacons him to come get his evening tea. While the video is mostly a compilation of really impressive bike tricks on a set of life-sized toys, Red Bull has set up a small conflict with the evening tea interruption and they’ve done an excellent job taking us back to childhood through MacAskill’s imagination.

In the end, child MacAskill has to put down his toys, and get his tea, but not before a final jump over Red Bull’s Formula 1 car segues to a perfectly recreated shot constructed from toys in child MacAskill’s room.

Red Bull chose to include Houston’s cover of Runaway as the background music for this spot, and it perfectly captures the imagination of a child looking to run away to his future. The song’s emphasis on authority figures and rebellion perfectly sums up this longing, especially with the pseudo-conflict his evening tea brings into the equation mid-video.

Red Bull: Serious About Entertaining Video Marketing

This video was no easy task to create. According to Red Bull’s synopsis of the video, it’s a collection of 2 years worth of footage, and if you watch until the end, you’ll see MacAskill’s repeated falls as he tries some of the more complicated tricks.

The trick fails may seem like a weird thing to include, but extreme sports are as much about humanizing the athlete as they are about making them into heroes, and seeing someone fall flat on their face gives hope to kids trying – and sometimes failing – to execute the same trick.

Overall, from street trials to space, Red Bull is behaving like a media company as they brand extreme sport experiences that speak to the brand fans they’re looking to capture.

How B2B Marketers can Brand Entertainment

Not every company has Red Bull’s budget, but I think anyone producing video can learn a lot from this example. Proper storytelling can make any content extraordinary and you’ve got to make videos about what your target market loves to watch or do for fun. Red Bull didn’t make a hastily-produced Harlem Shake follow up video, and it wasn’t an attempt to cash in on an existing meme. It’s a quality piece of content built from years of hard work and effort from both MacAskill, and the Red Bull production team.
Here’s how you can transfer this type of success to your B2B marketing videos:

  • Be Creative: Not every video has to be a full out narrative, but you can capture audience attention with a little creativity. Rather than just explaining your product, tell even a small story to demonstrate a use case with a cute character or funny situation that will appeal to your audience personas. Rather than just asking a customer for a testimonial, tell their story in the most compelling way possible. The majority of the Red Bull video is bike tricks, but by setting it in MacAskill’s childhood bedroom in Scotland, we’ve changed the story to pull in brand fans who remember playing the very same make-believe games as kids. Think about how to take your base-line video concept and add some drama for effect.
  • Create excitement: Every good story has a conflict that is overcome. In this video, Young Danny is facing the clock (he’ll have to stop playing to go have his tea eventually). When creating your videos, consider What struggles you help customers get past. If you can, craft this struggle into your messaging using visual metaphor or dramatic or comedic irony.
  • Have fun: Even if you’re a serious B2B company, there’s no harm in a video built for a good laugh. Here at Vidyard, we recently made a halloween feature about Franken-Bot (a play on our mascot V-Bot) and while Betakit called us out on our horrific acting, we got some serious love for this video from customers and prospects alike! There were clear elements of storytelling including a conflict, rising action, a game-changing moment, and a cliffhanger ending, and the video ultimately communicates that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Showcasing our staff doing something fun was a way to get you to believe in why we do what we do – and your brand can create something like this too!

In terms of branding entertainment, look to what your target audience loves. If your target audience is business men ranging from 30 to 60 years of age who purchase software for engineering, maybe they golf on the weekends and your next video could feature your customer support team golfing Happy Gilmore-style. A fun golf video introducing your staff is likely far more exciting than an average chat with your CEO, and will get your target audience more willing to engage with you.

Share some examples of your own

Have you seen brand videos making use of excellent storytelling or branded entertainment techniques? What about B2B marketing videos? Share your examples with us in the comments below and we can get a good chat going about what makes these videos great.

Jon Spenceley