Content is everywhere. So much so, our Twitter feeds move faster than the wheel on the Price is Right. We have access to endless information at all times, all in devices in our pockets, for God’s sake. No more Encyclopedia Britannica, we can fall into a Wikipedia rabbit hole without warning. It’s amazing some days. Exhausting others. And it can get overwhelming if you let it.
Once in a while, an article, a video, a campaign is genuine enough to cut through all that noise for a few days in a viral barrage.
You know that piece of content is good if it left you blubbering in the kitchen standing over the sink eating a chicken quesadilla when you watched it. You realize it’s great when you’re still thinking about it months later. You realize it’s outstanding when you decide to analyze why it’s stuck with you so long, and watching it again still leaves you a blubbering mess — although, unfortunately, this time it’s minus a quesadilla.
The piece in question is Extra Space Storage’s video called Parenting Advice - 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Having a Baby.
The video has over 1.5 million views, with minimal negative comments, unheard of both for most things on YouTube and parenting-related topics. It’s had millions of people talking, sharing, and crying about the loveliness of parenthood — not to mention thinking about what they should do with all their stuff.
It’s believable. The people speaking are real. They look like people you probably know, not people you typically see in stock photos. They’re not actors (and if you find out they are, please don’t tell me. Like Virgina, I have to believe these people are Santa Claus!). You want to listen to them because what they have to say is authentic.
They’re genuine. For each of the 10 things, the parents deliver the advice in different ways unique to their own experiences, often with funny asides. It feels like they are your friends or older cousins giving you advice you might actually use. They are sympathetic to the gazillion emotions a parent-to-be is feeling, but they are comforting that everything is going to be okay.
It’s actually great advice. The first piece of advice is from one mom who says, “Everything you’re doing is probably the best to somebody and the worst thing you could possibly do to somebody else.” A dad says, “Be prepared for the unexpected because it will happen.” There's even a cute kid at the end who reassures the viewer, "Just relax. You’re going to be great hopefully." (Lack of punctuation indicative of his lack of pause.)
Great presentation. The production of this video is so on point that I didn’t even realize Extra Space Storage is an actual storage company until the very end of the video. I thought the name was a quirky indie production company. Plus the editors of the final cut certainly studied the Ira Glass approach of the right music accompaniment aiding in eliciting emotion. This rings especially true at the end with the final tip, which I won’t spoil if you promise you’ll watch. Grab tissues.
It’s not a veiled sales pitch. Even though one of the moms gives the tip, “You gotta to make room for the baby” and another dad goes on to list all the things babies use, I still didn’t pick up on the fact that this was a marketing piece for a storage company, because it’s true, babies use an insane amount of stuff. It didn’t hit me that this wasn’t a feel good video made solely to make me cry until I saw their logo, website and #makeroomforlife at the end. But I didn’t feel cheated, because their approach wasn’t slimy or cheap. Perhaps I'm a naive consumer for missing the cues, but I think the video is just that well done.
The playing field has never been more open to create and share content, which is responsible for the surge in saturation. Whether or not you hit them with all the feels like this video, if you produce something that is authentic, valuable and relevant to your audience, you will have a vehicle that can help you tell an important story and there’s no telling how many people you can reach by doing it on that most genuine level.