VodafoneSometimes a new video comes along and really knocks it out of the park. It’s got a fun story, has you smiling like a goon, and ultimately reminds you that video is very powerful.

This is the case with Vodafone’s new campaign, “Vodafone Firsts“.

In a series of videos from the British brand, we see different people trying new things for the first time and the documentary-style content is downright awesome. Not only do you forget your watching a brand video, but you’ll happily sit through ten minutes of one because it’s totally adorable.

Granny’s first flight

Check out An and Ria, two dutch 70-somethings who have never been on a plane before. We take flight for granted, but you’ll see just how nervous (and excited) the thought of flying makes these two new friends:

Why This is a Winning Video Campaign

In a real example of “facts tell but stories sell”, Vodafone has gone all out to bring us something special; something we want to share. Going beyond what they literally do, the brand showcases the ideas they want to stand for: discovery and excitement.

On the campaign landing page the company explains, “Doing things for the first time keeps the world interesting. It helps us progress and discover. All around us people are doing things for the first time and we want to help them get there. We want to share their stories.”

That’s some pretty inspiring stuff, no?

It’s clear that this telecommunications company is different and that those running their content strategy really get it. They didn’t create a video because it was trendy, they had a meaningful message to communicate.

So what storytelling elements can we marketers learn from Vodafone?

1. Juxtaposition helps tell a story

Stories ruleAn and Ria are complete opposites and this makes for a compelling story. While Ria is a happy-go-lucky, roller coaster riding dare devil with an infectious laugh, An is anxious and timid. The story works because the ladies have a clear challenge (the plot) and because they each represent the characters of everyone watching. As an audience member you’ll identify with these women (the adventurer or the worrier) because we’ve all tried new things. Overall, it’s a great storytelling strategy and something your brand can do too.

2. Your video’s structure matters

While this video is ten minutes long, it works because the b-roll and backstory make the story matter. We discover that Ria’s husband was a fairly nervous guy and died without seeing much of the world. We also learn that An’s husband would love to travel, but he respects that An is very scared. Vodafone develops these characters as a way of having the bigger picture unfold. The backstory presents real motivation for An to get over her fears and try something new.

The lesson here?
If you’re telling a documentary-like story for your brand, take notice of how artfully Vodafone incorporates meaningful b-roll and develops characters. Everything from Ria sitting under her hair dryer with her curlers in, to the shot of An in the flight simulator juxtaposed with Ria on the roller coaster. It’s all purposeful, timed perfectly, and adds to the story.

Be careful to use discretion with your own b-roll though – not every video needs b-roll backstory. It’s really only appropriate in documentary-style stuff or maybe in a stylish customer testimonial. Ensure that if you are using b-roll that it supports your message.

3. Don’t sell tablets, sell feelings

This video’s not about Vodafone services. It may feature tablets running on Vodafone data, sure, but it’s really about the overarching theme of new experiences and how we feel when we do something for the first time. When An and Ria fly, you can’t help but get a little thrill out of it too. And what’s left after the video’s over? Your strong positive feelings and the impulse to share those feelings. That’s the power of these videos.

I especially liked that the product, while built in to these stories, serves as a way An could gain comfort when far from home or trying something she was frightened to do.

I’m betting you felt something when you saw An call her husband on the tablet and cry about her fun day and new “kind friend”. It wasn’t about the tablet, it was about her self-discovery.

Pretty powerful, humanizing stuff.

4. Vodafone built a campaign

Finally, this video is a winner because the brand created multiple videos around the theme of firsts. They’re encouraging social shares and reactions to the videos using the hashtag #Firsts, and they have an entire domain devoted to showcasing not just the videos, but small extras too.

Vodafone's campaign landing page

The landing page extras also include the photos An and Ria took on their flight, for example. You can peruse through outtakes and different cuts of the videos in the collection. Don’t feel like watching the full ten minute video? There are shorter trailers for each of the stories that work just as well.

With awesome videos in the rest of the series you can watch the first colour conducted concert, Tom Lowe’s first surf ride on Todos Santos, the first female fight club and more.

Take a look and comment below with what you liked about the campaign! Which video do you like best?

Jennifer Pepper