Advertising Week 2014

This Bieber Video Can Have Your Brand Laughing Its Way to the Bank

Upright Citizens Brigade's Todd Bieber Offers 10 Steps for Great Branded Content

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If you don't want your branded video to become an online punchline, you need Todd Bieber.

As creative director of the Upright Citizens Brigade, Mr. Bieber has directed over 200 humorous videos for brands including Google, Ikea, Arby's, Denny's, Liz Claiborne, Excedrin and more. He's also seen his share of brand successes and mistakes. At an Advertising Week session called "How to Be Funny and Filthy Rich By Making Online Branded Comedy Videos," Mr. Bieber offered these 10 tips to attendees.

1. Be funny in the first 10 seconds. Longer and you lose a viewer's interest.

2. Don't show the product immediately. If so, the viewer will smell an ad. Heavy-handedness can kill a video.

3. Remember, it's a creative endeavor, not a TV spot. A commercial is commonly a one-off joke and does not play off the kind of universal truth the below UCB video does. It's true to the brand, Excedrin, by exaggerating the all-too-common headache that can result from people finding absurd ways to divide a dinner check. "The [advertising] money is shifting over to video, but the train of thought [for video creation] isn't shifting over fast enough," he said.

4. (We'll come to this later).

5. Ask yourself: Would you share this video? "This rarely comes up in a brand meeting, and it should," said Mr. Bieber. "If you wouldn't share it, why will anyone?"

6. Know your audience.

7. Have a social-media plan -- a video doesn't just stand on its own. Extend the concept into outlets like Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram.

8. Have a realistic timeline.

9. Kickstart views with PR, traditional advertising, social chatter.

10. Hire someone funny.

So how much might a great and side-splitting branded video cost? Mr. Bieber says UCB has worked with budgets anywhere between the mid-five figures to the mid-six figures.

Oh, and his point number 4: Keep your video under two minutes. So we did.