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The 9 Most Creative (Least Gratuitous) Brand Vines

Anyone can throw a tiny video together. Here’s a rundown of brand-generated Vines that make the most of the platform and that make every second count.

  • 01 /13 | PlayStation 3, “MLB 13: The Show”

    Perhaps the most painstakingly crafted Vine to date is this series of Vines for Playstation 3's MLB 13: The Show. The campaign saw Playstation and social media agency Blitz reinvent the baseball card, creating special Vined "cards" for baseball stars, baseball "influencers," and prominent fans of the game. The cards show an avatar version of the fans playing the game. To bring the Vine cards to life, the campaign’s creators had to actually play the game, bringing players up from the minors, before they could capture the footage. Blitz worked with an artist to turn an influential baseball personality’s Twitter avatar into a player, which required some cheat codes in the process. Since video can’t be imported with Vine, the game had to be played in order for the video of a computer monitor to be shot . In all, 30 Vine baseball cards were made.

  • 02 /13 | PlayStation 3, “MLB 13: The Show”
  • 03 /13 | PlayStation 3, “MLB 13: The Show”
  • 04 /13 | Kids Company

    U.K. charity Kids Company stands in stark contrast to most brands using Vine. Where others use their six seconds for whimsy or humor, Kids Company makes its short films painful to watch. Created by agency AMV BBDO, the videos feature vulnerable children in hard to imagine but all-too-real situations, followed by the simple words, “Make it Stop.” A charity with no advertising budget, Kids Company has packed into six seconds completely heartbreaking stories and an effective fundraising call to action--“Make it Stop.”

  • 05 /13 | Kids Company
  • 06 /13 | Kids Company
  • 07 /13 | Lowe's

    Stripped screw? No problem, just use a rubber band. Delivering on its brand promise to Never Stop Improving, Lowe’s released a series of Vine videos that build on the company’s existing "Shareable Solutions" campaign, which feature one home improvement tip represented in a single image. The whimsical yet incredibly useful videos from BBDO New York share tips on how to organize cleaning supplies, how to clean knives, and how to easily store bedding.

  • 08 /13 | Comedy Central: Vine Dining

    From April 29 through May 3, Comedy Central conducted an experiment in comedy. It launched its five-day Vine- and Twitter-based #ComedyFest. The virtual comedy festival began with a live-streamed event featuring Mel Brooks (@MelBrooks) signing up for Twitter with the help of Carl Reiner and Judd Apatow. Featuring 68 comedians, the fest also included Vine Dining, a party of six-second videos hosted by Steve Agee. Agee turned in little oddities that included screaming at noise (a Vine hazard), eating and throwing donuts, and this little six-second dalliance with acid.

  • 09 /13 | Calvin Klein

    If there’s one thing Calvin Klein has excelled at over the years, it’s bringing us hunks in underwear. While on the face of it CK’s Vine videos with super-buff Matt Terry may seem gratuitous, it’s clever in context. Calvin Klein used Vine to serve fans little snippets of Terry during the Super Bowl to support its on-air ad buy. But when the lights went out, CK was quick to the punch with the above Vine, which was tweeted out with this very reasonable explanation: “Since the lights are still out . . .”

  • 10 /13 | Tribeca Film Festival

    The contention that you can’t tell a story in six seconds was put to the test when Tribeca Film Festival launched #6secondfilms, a competition that challenged people to do just that with Vine. Films were required to have a beginning, middle, and end, and were divided into four categories: auteur, animation, genre, and series (which allowed a story to unfold over three consecutive Vines). Six winners were chosen from more than 400 submissions. The above film from Kevy Pizza won the auteur category.

  • 11 /13 | General Electric

    Where Lowe’s used Vine to enliven its brand promise of inspiring improvement, GE did the same to support its brand’s dedication to innovation and invention with #6secondscience. The short clips show nifty little experiments that have an instant payoff, such as this one, which answers the question, “What happens when you combine milk, food coloring, and dish soap?” Trippy.

  • 12 /13 | Daft Punk, "Random Access Memories" Track Listing

    The online frenzy in the lead-up to the release of Daft Punk’s first album in 12 years (which was released online a week before its scheduled May 21 launch date) grew with every little rumor, funky guitar lick, or snippet of video released as part of the ongoing campaign of devilish little teases. This is why this seemingly simple Vine, which used the format’s six seconds to reveal the album’s track listing, was so on point.

  • 13 /13 | Peanut Butter & Co.

    We’ll admit this video’s content doesn’t really fit our criteria of “doing something.” Honestly, if anyone watching this doesn’t know how to make a PB&J, well, they might have larger issues. The genius of this Vine is the coupon offered in the last frame. Released on April 2, which just happened to be National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day, the coupon offer was a resounding success for the tiny 12-person company. According to the company, the Vine gained 300,000 impressions during the course of the day and the coupon was downloaded more than 6,000 times. Crusts off to that.

With any new technology or platform or device, one thing is inevitable: Brands looking to innovate will rush in headfirst, whether or not there is a convincing reason to do so. On one hand, that’s not a bad thing—experimentation is the only way to learn about a new tech and grok its strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, it makes for a lot of gratuitous brand stuff.

The everybody-into-the-pool effect has been particularly strong with social video app Vine, owing in part to ease of use and in part to, well, the fact that it’s sort of a fun thing to do.

At first blush, it would be easy to discount Vine as having staying power beyond that early experimentation. Six seconds isn’t much time to tell a story and in lesser hands the results often resemble glorified GIFs. However, Vine’s runaway success since Twitter acquired it before its January launch suggests that such a dismissal misses the potential impact of the microvideo service. Vine quickly became the top free app on iTunes, where it remains in the top 10, and analysis of the nascent service is starting to emerge, revealing just how much people are sharing the mini-vids.

Unruly Media recently released research that found, on average, five tweets per second contain a Vine link and branded content accounts for 4% of the Top 100 traced Vines (this compares to the 1% of branded content on Unruly’s chart of the top 100 viral videos).

So what makes a good brand Vine video? It’s something that actually takes advantage of the platform’s unique format to add value—to do something useful or entertaining (versus compiling a series of random images). Take Canadian TV show Continuum. As we previously reported, the show’s creators are using Vine videos to impact the show’s storyline by allowing fans to side with or against a resistance movement. Participation will dictate how the show’s season will wrap, thereby creating a bridge between the linear and digital experience. Meanwhile, in quite possibly the most valuable use of Vine yet, home improvement store Lowe’s has used Vine to create quick-hit home improvement tips to great effect.

Lowe’s: "Using cayenne pepper can deter rodent pests."

For Lowe’s, success with Vine was born out of an already proven strategy. The company had previously released a series of photo-based home improvement tips on its Facebook page. Dubbed Shareable Solutions, the images showed ways to solve little household problems. With Vine, the company has expanded this campaign with a series of illuminating little videos, such as showing how a rubber band can help extract a stripped screw, or how using cayenne pepper can deter rodent pests.

Brad Walters, director of social media and emerging platforms at Lowe’s, says that since Vine was an unproven platform, their approach was to use video to bring an established idea to the next level. When evaluating any new communication tool, Walter says the litmus test is whether or not it can provide value for customers. "If we can’t provide value to our audience, then it’s maybe not the right fit. We saw the opportunity to create value with Vine.

"We felt that if we could use it in a static images to share these tips, we could certainly portray it in six seconds. Though some of the tips are more complex, so some you might have to watch them a couple of times. But the beauty is that they loop, so we felt we could put more content in them," says Walters, referring to the more narratively and stylistically ambitious squirrel Vine. "The ones that people like and share the most were the very simple ones. But people liked the squirrel because it told an entire story in six seconds."

Will Boudreau, ECD at BBDO, the agency behind the Lowe’s work, says "At first, six seconds seems quite limiting, but then when you have parameters, it becomes quite creative. It makes you think better." The barrier to entry is also extremely low. In creating the Vines for Lowe’s, BBDO sought out Vine super-user Meagan Cignoli to direct and shoot them in their offices at virtually no cost. "If there’s one thing the Internet has proved, it’s that shareable video is extremely popular. It’s wonderful that you can create six-second videos that you can instantly share with such a low time commitment."

In the slideshow above we look at nine brands using Vine to its full effect.

[Image: Flickr user Rupert Ganzer]