You might feel like just a number when signing up for banking, internet, airline, or cell phone services, so when it comes to brand videos in these industries, it’s interesting to see an emerging trend to combat this perception.

Companies know customers feel lost in the shuffle and are responding by creating online videos that go above and beyond to make people feel special.

Brands are now staging elaborate thank-you videos to show you they take customer loyalty seriously and truly care about people. Notably we’ve seen WestJet and Telus step up in this area, but this week I was particularly impressed with a new video from TD Canada. One of the top five banks in the country, this company turned their ATM into an “automated thanking machine” for the day and gave bank regulars personalized surprises they’ll never forget.

Take a look (and grab some tissues, fair warning):

Aaaandd now you’re tearing up. It’s a sweet twist on the recognized Sadvertising trend, although I’d call this one a bit of Gladvertising. You just can’t help but feel good after watching it, and that’s how the brand is producing positive association.

What’s so great about this video?

(More like what’s not to completely love about this video…)

The Entire Setup Screams Authenticity
First off, it must be said that this video would never have worked if the emotion wasn’t as raw and real as it appears to be. Everything feels genuine about this piece, so it keeps your attention instead of making you feel awkward (as some of faux-prank videos tend toward). The reactions are real, the people are real, even the guy who’s voicing the thanking machine doesn’t feel phoney. These elements have to blend seamlessly for a truly awesome brand video. If viewers end up questioning why your surprised customers didn’t see the camera crew that was literally standing two feet away, you lose credibility.

This video evokes such positive feelings because everyone in it seems legitimately speechless and excited about their experience. Which leads us to our next point…

Personalization is the way to go
Because we’re getting fairly used to what I like to call the “experience formula” for these surprises (i.e. customer gets a surprise during what appears to be a routine transaction), TD did the right thing by personalizing each surprise. Allegedly, each regular customer interacted with the bank so often that the tellers knew enough about them that each of the surprises were possible. Banks technically have access to your purchasing history (which is a whole other story), but the point is TD used all of their available information to genuinely thank people for their business and so we don’t feel like anyone’s privacy was called into question (which was a bit of a risk here).

TD Showcased Their Personality
By showing us they care about each of the people in this video, TD Canada says they care about us too. They showcase their implied brand persona and character which appears to be fun, thoughtful, and genuine. Bonus, all of this learned brand association comes across in just four minutes; talk about the power of video marketing!

Lessons for video marketers

So what can you learn from TD Canada when it comes to communicating your brand’s persona?

You too can thank-prank or surprise people
Whether it’s customers in your industry, thought leaders, or even the awesome people you employ, there’s no downside to a thank-you style video. Especially if you can think of a unique surprise. The real lesson here is that you have to put some elbow grease into a surprise video. They often involve hidden cameras (this one appears to), the space, the time, and the involvement of a few employees who can coordinate), and they can’t feel weird. It’s a tall order, but it’s so worth it if you can pull it off.

Moreover, if competitors in your industry are already making surprise videos, maybe step up and compete. Scotiabank, another major Canadian bank has been making surprise-type ads to draw awareness to their rewards card that you can redeem free movies with. It makes complete sense that TD would want to step up to the plate and deliver.

Your content shouldn’t be about you!
Finally, surprise videos are awesome content because the focus is on people your brand helps rather than your brand alone. I mean, it’s still about your company, but it’s indirect and less pitchy. Remember that whether it’s a surprise video or something different, make the focus about your customer and advocates rather than a sales pitch.

Overall, TD Canada did a terrific job with their thank-you video and there’s lots to learn from their finesse. What did you like about their approach? Would your brand create a thank-you video? If you’ve made one already, or would like to share an example of one you like, leave us a link with a comment!

Jennifer Pepper