“Video Content: Why”: a Free e-Book(let)

That’s right, free. With no purchase.

Twenty-two pages of facts, links, and thinking on the many ways video has evolved from a selling platform to the preferred communications platform.

Our world has changed. Smart companies have commissioned research to learn exactly how so I’ve been reading what they shared, sifting through the hyperbole and exaggeration endemic to the blogging world, all to catalogue the best thinking on how to leverage online video.


I want to share this thinking with anyone and everyone who may be interested. Download it, share it, use it however it may help; I simply ask that if you have feedback or input on how to make it better, share your thoughts. Our digital world is iterative which makes constant improvement a real possibility.

As I post this, we stand halfway between the end of Hanukkah and Christmas day; consider this my ecumenical Holiday gift to you. Read it in good health. And all the best for the New Year.


PS: Find other downloadable links on this page.

Video: Evolving Beyond Selling

So yesterday, I was lucky enough to present for the West Michigan Content Strategy Meetup’s first-ever lunch and learn webinar.

Of course, being that it was ‘first ever’ and involved warring Apple and Google technology platforms, it was a bit of a car wreck; dropped signals, video blackouts, etc. But happily, like all things digital and video, you can fix it in post. So we did.

My thanks to my old friend Scott Smith and the charming and redoubtable Laura Bergells for making this a terrific experience, technical difficulties and all.


A Positive Pre-Thanksgiving Meal Message

As Thursday’s feast looms, most of us have one word in our mind: tryptophan. That sleep-friendly amino acid behind so many of us missing the second half of the Lions game…

Peter Diamandis has a different word in his mind: abundance. As one of the founders of Singularity University and Executive Chairman of the XPrize, Peter relentlessly beats the drum for the positive advancements made possible by technology, despite what he considers the epidemic of negative news by the media industry.

Last weekend, he released his annual Evidence of Abundance PDF. This relentlessly positive document is filled with all sorts of data supporting basic premise that we live in times of extraordinary abundance and opportunity. Consider food scarcity and hunger:

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Diamandis cites World Bank data showing the percentage of the world’s population with an inadequate caloric intake dropped from 18.6%  in 1991 to 10.8% in 2015.

Though we’re clearly not done, that’s progress. And that’s worth giving thanks. Have a wonderful day tomorrow,


PS: Actually, chicken contains more tryptophan, so it’s not the turkey, it’s actually the stuffing. Of our collective faces. Overeating is really what makes us so sleepy.

Oh Canada! A Pre-Thanksgiving Travel Message

Everyone knows the day before Thanksgiving is our busiest travel day of the year.

Except it’s not. Summer weekends consistently outrank it. Nevertheless, this is a week fraught with family, shopping, and travel, so this little piece seemed timely…

If we must accept that foreign powers will influence our social feeds, let’s choose the decent people of Canada over the divisiveness-spewing trollbots from Russia. We make mistakes, we apologize, we shake hands and move on.

What a wonderful world that would be…


A Pre Thanksgiving/Black Friday Shopping Message

According to data from Adobe, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday 2016 all set records for online sales, totaling over $5.5 billion. Black Friday remains the monster; last year, Friday online sales topped the three billion mark for the first time ever, reaching $3.34 billion: an increase of nearly 22% over 2015.

In bricks and mortar, ShopperTrak reported a 1% drop in foot traffic from 2015 over the Thanksgiving weekend, but Black Friday itself didn’t dip. The manic early morning shopping rush has clearly become a new holiday tradition; retailers predict it will hold strong this year even as they foresee another 5%+ growth in online sales.

Retailers revel in this reorientation of our Holidays toward mass consumption. But the Forest Hill Church in South Carolina takes a different perspective. Last year, on December 3, their in-house creative media team posted this “Christmas Presents” video to Facebook…

It’s not particularly sophisticated or slickly produced–all the actors are either churchgoers or staff–but the idea itself struck a resonant, relatable chord. Over the past year, it’s earned well over 6.3 million views and been shared almost 93,000 times. The idea of gift wrapping the everyday gifts we take for granted is simple and powerful. And joyful; for a non-actor, director/congregant Matt Nunn delivers a very likable performance as the man who wakes up with so much gratitude.

This is a brilliant example of relevant video content and clearly, Forest Hill is very savvy with multimedia. They also have a great looking website that boasts lots of content. They’re definitely doing it right.

First and foremost, by starting with a smart, relatable idea. Well done.


Thanks to my friend and constant student of culture, Neilan Tyree, for finding and sharing this video on Facebook.

Today’s Example of How Creativity Pays

Ad agencies struggle to convince clients to pay for creativity, mostly because we gave it away for years, trusting television’s healthy margins to more than cover the cost of development. And so we inadvertently devalued our industry’s one core asset that spans medium and format: the idea.

Which is why it’s so fun to hear the story of Max Lanman, who recently decided to help his girlfriend sell her car online. Actually, he used her old Honda to produce his idea of making a luxury car commercial around a junky car. Her vehicle was one of a whopping 382,298 Accords produced in 1996, but now, twenty one years and 141,000 miles later, her “Greenie” shows its age…

The thing is, this spot’s fun but not especially hilarious. A similar used car ad spoof featured on this blog back in May used outsized visual effects to far more hysterical effect. Yet the simple fact that Max took the time, made the effort, and did something delightfully unexpected in a tired, uninspiring venues made his work shine.

It also paid off handsomely. Kelley’s Blue Book values the Honda at just over $1400. After posting the spot on YouTube last Thursday, Max and his girlfriend listed the Accord on eBay for $500.

By the weekend, the bidding hit $150,000, and eBay took the listing down, understandably concerned about “illegitimate bidding.”

Now it’s back up and bidding currently hovers around $4300: almost ten times their initial asking price and well above the Blue Book value. All because of Max’s creative idea and approach.


eBay also released this statement: “Mr. Lanman is a talented filmmaker and we’re pleased that the eBay platform brought us together. We’re hoping to work on some creative video projects with him in the future.

Wow. Nice work Max. Well played.


Filmmaking Lessons from David Fincher

Back when DVD’s were a thing, it was always a joy to rent anything directed by David Fincher. Whether or not you enjoyed the movie itself didn’t really matter because every Fincher DVD came with the director’s invariably intelligent and thoughtful commentary track. If you paid attention, it was like a grad school class for filmmaking. You’d learn why he set up shots and edits in specific ways, the character development motivations for holding on to a long take or creating an elaborate, circling camera move. It was always my favorite part of the DVD experience.

Sadly, this piece doesn’t include any Fincher commentary, but it does show the amazing focus to detail he brings to pursuing his vision. Truly remarkable. The green screen sections starting around 3:47 are breathtaking…


The visual effects company behind this spectacular work is Artemple Hollywood. Creating a fantastic alien or a futuristic city on a distant planet is a true challenge, but creating visual effects that appear seamlessly invisible? Those are truly special effects. Wow.


Why Video Content? It’s Simple Neuroscience.

Seriously. Our brains process video imagery differently than text.

While researching this piece, a number of remarkable statistics popped up repeatedly. A particularly amazing one claimed we process visuals 600,000x faster than text. The problem is, like so many things on the internet, this claim wasn’t corroborated by any credible sources. Actually, they were compellingly argued against here. Oh well, live and Google. And Google again. Repeatedly.’


A Nine Page Argument for Video Content

“He Shares His Slides On SlideShare.” Try saying that three times quickly…

Or just take a look at this short deck. It asserts the critical relevance of video content, as our marketplace continues moving away from text-based communications. It’s intentionally short because apparently, all these modern digital distractions have left us with the attention span of tree frogs.

For years, I loved making television commercials. Today, I’m genuinely excited to make all sorts of other video content for all sorts of other platforms and audiences. It is, in the words of the immortal Sammy Davis Jr., ‘a gas and a giggle.’


Photo credit: Ray Hennessy