We laughed. We cried. We got creeped out by the robotic Stepford-Wives-Turned-Interior-Designers with the chipper singsong voices who were bathed in dim light creating dark shadowed faces against a black background in this Polycom promo. (.) We got dizzy with the odd jump-cuts of the director's camera. The whole thing is so cheesy and awkwardly acted. And what's the deal with that massive table and long camera shot, distancing any feel of intimacy? (.) ...We wonder: was this promo video even authorized by Polycom? It feels like it was a project produced by a high school marketing class.
In that we're a booster of all forms of audio, web, and video conferencing we hope the industry's marketing and branding through video production improves. The branding of videoconferencing technologies is important to its success, just as its engineering is. Cisco has produced some exceptionally for its TelePresence brand but also did this cringingly bad one. Tandberg's recent video production quality is good but its marketing message is self-directed (a no-no which Polycom has also done before). HP Halo's death-march-into-the-conference-room b-roll video about its system just doesn't befit a company of its size. "Letting go of your brand" doesn't mean producing amateur videos to post on YouTube.
We'd hazard a guess that what's happening here is there's a generation of marketing professionals whose teeth have been cut in the marketing of systems and gear, but not in the byproduct of these systems, which is video production for meetings and presentations. Media content. Media programming. Now that these systems and networks are producing better quality video, the requirements for branding in a sexier media environment have changed, but the branding skills and sensibilities seemingly have not. If you're selling video systems, the branding imbued in your promotional videos ought to reflect savvy messaging and high-quality, modern production.
Media food for thought as prospective buyers of videoconferencing technology snack on promo videos like this cheesy one. To raise awareness and interest in videoconferencing, the industry needs better creative that blends messaging with style. It takes a good eye and a culturally tuned sensibility and as WebEx knows, great branding can be worth billions.
March 16, 2007