Want to see an example of emotional film making? Google scored a viral hit with its video, Reunion, which stormed up the UnRuly Viral Video Charts. If you’re not one of the four million plus people who has already watched it, you can see it here:
(Don’t forget to turn captions on!)
The video tells the story of two childhood friends from Lahore, who were separated in 1947 when India and Pakistan were divided by the partition. Now, over 65 years later, the two elderly gentlemen – one a Hindu living in Delhi, the other a Muslim living in Lahore – are reunited by their grandchildren, with a little help from Google Search.
The key to the video’s popularity is undoubtedly the fact that it has a strong story, something we’ve spoken about at length before. But having a story isn’t necessarily enough to send a video viral. That story has to elicit an emotional reaction from your audience. Because an experience that stirs somebody emotionally is one they’re far more likely to share.
So how do you ensure that your audience is emotionally engaged with your story? Here are some key ingredients to emotional film-making:
Choose a Key Theme for Your Video
Your video will be far more effective if you choose one key theme and plan it to perfection. If you over-complicate your video by accommodating several different messages, you will reduce its impact.
In Reunion, Google has chosen the theme of long-lost friends, and it’s organised its video using the traditional three-act structure. Firstly the scene’s been set by establishing the setting and the main characters. Next the problem is introduced, in this case a sense of loss for an old friend. And finally, Google has shown how its product helped to solve the problem and eventually led to the meeting of these old friends many years later.
The video is all the more poignant as it’s made for the Indian market, where the effects of partition are still strong. Hundreds of thousands of families and friends were separated, many of whom remain alienated to this day. So naturally, the target audience can immediately empathise with this story, and are able to put themselves in the shoes of the main characters. Which leads neatly to the next point.
You have to tell your story objectively. In other words, don’t be vain. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about you.
Your story needs to be told in a way that reflects the goals, problems and interests of your target audience. You have to put the consumer first, and show them how your product or service can improve their lives or solve their problems.
Here’s a great example from Dell Computers:
Annie, the Girl Who Could Fly, was created by Dell to show that technology can help make dreams come true. Annie is a determined schoolgirl who is relentlessly pursuing her dream of flying, despite several failures. But with a little ingenuity and some help from her Dell laptop, she was able to produce a video of herself flying over her classmates.
By creating a likeable central character, and demonstrating the product through the eyes of the character, it doesn’t really feel like marketing at all. Instead, we’re all drawn to Annie and rooting for her to achieve her dream.
Like Google, Dell has also aimed its campaign squarely at a target audience: in this case, parents who are buying computers for their children.
Motivate and Inspire Your Audience
Delightful little Annie also helps to illustrate the next essential ingredient for emotionally engaging your audience: the power of motivation.
If the key theme of your story can help to motivate or inspire your audience, they’re far more likely to share it with their friends. In the case of Annie, Dell is inspiring a generation to dream big and use their ingenuity, whereas Google is motivating people to remember old friendships and showing them it’s never too late. Although Google’s story is specifically aimed at those affected by partition, we can all relate to the general message behind it.
Triggering an Emotional Response with Emotional Film Making
The bottom line is this: for your story to be a success you have to trigger an emotional response from your audience. As humans we’re emotional to our very core, so by triggering those emotions you stand a better chance of engaging with your audience and, therefore, ensuring that your story is shared.
One of the key ways to do this is to base your story on one key theme, and create a central character who is likable and who your target audience can relate to. Organise your story in such a way that the audience is drawn into it and is eager to find out what happens next, and make sure you focus on what’s important to your audience, not on blowing your own trumpet.
With brands and businesses fully aware of the importance of emotions in content marketing, you also need to use a little creativity to ensure your video stands out from the rest of the bunch, and bear in mind the impact music has on heightening an emotional response.
Essentially, you’re looking for a human angle to your story that can be sprinkled with details that speak to people’s emotions. The most effective stories are those where the audience can put themselves into the shoes of the central character, or characters, and the story triggers the same emotions that they would feel under the circumstances.
Want to learn more? Find out how the McDonald’s dead dad advert took emotional advertising too far.