August 26, 2010

What TV’s Wipeout Can Do For Your Next Video

Sometimes a great idea comes along that smacks us right in the face. In this case, it knocks us right into the water. Not literally, of course…unless you are a contestant on the ABC-TV game show Wipeout.

If you haven’t seen Wipeout, it features a series of obstacle courses where contestants try to avoid falling into the water. I’m the first to admit this show’s attraction is purely from an entertainment standpoint. This is not Masterpiece Theatre. Watching everyday people take crazy spills off the “Big Balls” might make for good conversation at the water cooler, but it probably won’t make you smarter.

As a fan of the show, I’ve picked up on 3 themes from Wipeout that apply when creating sales and marketing videos. Marketing directors who are faced with the task of getting out the company message can benefit from keeping these themes in mind.

1. Everyone has a backstory. Before each contestant tackles the first obstacle course on Wipeout, there is a short interview where we learn about one of their passions in life. Now we can identify with the contestant and decide to root for them or against them. When you are developing your company story, look for the backstories within your organization. These are the surprising little nuggets of information that come out on camera to make your company unique.

2. It’s okay to laugh. A big part of Wipeout’s successful formula is making the audience laugh at the expense of the contestants. While you likely don’t want to go that far with your marketing, many companies avoid using any humor in their videos because they are worried not everyone will think they are funny.

3. Don’t be afraid to fail. Even the ultimate winner on Wipeout ends up being bounced into the water a few dozen times. We find some clients initially look at video as a big risk, mainly because most marketing professionals don’t come from a video background. Finding the right production partner who understands your business is an important step to making video a successful investment.

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