As I was scrolling through my newsfeed recently, I came across a video posted by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in 2014 titled “KLM Lost & Found service”. I’d seen it before, probably a few times, actually. Despite this, it reeled me in again.

I mean, this thing has sticking power. Take a look.

Before you ask, no, that cute little, fuzzy-faced beagle is not a real KLM employee. But he is a phenomenal metaphor for going above and beyond to give KLM passengers the optimal experience. Not to mention a great brand tool. This video now sits at over 21 million views and continues to be shared and talked about across the web one and a half years later.

So I wondered, other than the happiest, floppiest, four-legged creature you’ve ever seen, why is this video so successful and how can marketers learn from it? Given the distribution of company sizes and budgets across the world, it’s probable that you don’t have the same kind of marketing budget as a large, international airline. But there are definitely still parallels to be drawn and applied to your own video content.

Aim High for Metaphorical Stories

If this video were a literal representation of the message KLM was trying to convey, it would not have been as effective. For one, there wouldn’t have been a cute puppy involved. But actually, imagine we followed the journey of the airline retrieving lost items after a flight. Cool, we could see a grumpy passenger, the cluttered bagging area, and then a happy customer. But whoop-dee-doo. We like to believe in magic. Give us a little something more and consider sharing your stories in a metaphorical, rather than literal manner.

Straddle the Line of Believable and Unbelievable

A lot of people wondered if lost item dog rescue was an actual service that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines provided. I mean, it’s possible. And that dog really does look like he loves his job.

By stretching just enough outside of the true nature of the lost item processes at KLM, they made people wonder and sparked significant conversation around their video. Viewers just need to know: will they meet this pooch on their next flight?! Even though this video was posted a year and a half ago, people are still commenting on their YouTube video to this day asking if it’s real!

KLM airlines training dog videoBe careful with this tactic, though. As KLM did receive some flack for ‘misleading’ viewers. Sometimes it’s a good idea to show a little bit of absurdity, just so your viewers can start to catch on and realize you’re just joking with them. I, personally caught on when the good ol’ beagle was being trained around traveling mannequins – but apparently this didn’t trigger the falsity for everyone.  

Then you also get people like this latching on to your story and taking advantage of those gullible viewers.

YouTube comment KLM video

We thank DuffusTheTroll for the heads up.

Remember that Subtle Branding is Better than a Slap in the Face

The airline has done an exemplary job of infusing their video with subtle branding throughout by adding it into the background scenes. The dog is wearing branded paniers, he trains in front of numerous branded planes, and the flight attendants and the “Lost and Found Team” are decked out in company attire. Consider using your own branding in a natural way, like KLM, instead of slapping the logo all over the place in post-production. It ensures your viewers know who the video is about, but still seems natural.

Use Music to Sell Your Story

Let’s just go back for a moment to 0:23 when we were introduced to all the paws and floppiness of the Lost and Found beagle.

That entry music made this scene. Without it, that little four-legged cutie would just have been a beagle running through an airport. But the epic music (and slow motion!) show you that this is someone big, with a big mission. Just from his intro, you can tell that this pup is an important character, a hero, even. Pay attention to not only which music you’re selecting for your own videos, but the key elements of the music and how they can work together with the story to build up important points, draw out emotions, or even increase suspense.

Film Reality-Style Video

People are tired of being sold to. I mean so tired that you’re even tired of hearing that people are tired.

Imagine that this video was a pitch from KLM’s CEO or even from a front-line representative in front of a green screen or in the airport. I’d bet you probably wouldn’t have cared – nor would the 21 million other people who watched this video. The reality style of this shoot, which was captured with some rougher footage, natural actors, and even audio guys ‘making their way’ into the shot.reality video with audio man It makes you feel like certain shots were captured in real time as the Lost and Found dog was saving the day, makes the messaging more trustworthy, which is ironic given that this was a ‘fake’ story. Shoot your own reality video – either contrived reality or real reality. Wow, we’ve actually come to a point where we have to specify when reality is real! This is happening.

Pick One Message and Fly it All the Way Home

Undoubtedly, this video was meant to convey how hard KLM works for their passengers and how much they value their belongings. They could have spoken to 15 core principles that make up this value (I don’t actually know if it’s 15, per se), but that would seriously dilute their message and likely leave their viewers confused and unsure of the core takeaway. Instead, the airline focused solely on “we return your lost baggage” and really delivered the whole story to hit this message.

They even hammered it home by laying out the moral of the story right on screen for you near the end of the video.

text on screen KLM video

Close On the Story, Not Yourself

Picture this for a second: KLM ends the video on the text above and then their logo. Bam. End.

You’re left with a corporate message to move on to the rest of your day. That’s like getting a crappy package of peanuts as the final snack on an otherwise awesome flight. What is it that you remember about that flight? Due to the recency effect, those crappy peanuts will phenomenally taint your impression of the flight. Funny, isn’t it? The same goes for video. Think long and hard about what you want to leave your viewers with.

It might not be your logo.

That’s not to say that we’re all so anti-logo that we’d flip the table and toss our laptops. But KLM’s approach reminds us of the cute beagle we fell in love with at the 23 second mark and closes out the story with us watching him casually roll by on the people-mover, thinking much more warm and fuzzy thoughts. Which, happen to be subconsciously linked to their brand.

Who knew there were so many lessons to be learned from a lost iPhone, an airport, and a puppy? I sure didn’t. But I’m happy that great content continues to soar across my newsfeed, because I’ll never get tired of great content – even when it’s over a year old.

Kimbe MacMaster