How Do You Balance Promoting a Product with Entertaining your Audience?

Posted by: in Social Media Insights & Trends on June 22, 2011

There’s a fine line when you’re trying to entertain consumers but you still have a product to promote. One of the best examples that’s continually held up is the Swagger Wagon video from Toyota, which has been viewed over 30 million times on YouTube alone. In the interest of analytics driving online engagement, we now have an analysis of the relationship between entertainment and product promotion for that piece.

Lyrically, Swagger Wagon has just 358 words in the song. Of those, the chorus can be classified as pseudo-promotional and there are three lines during the video that are overtly promotional for the Toyota Sienna. In total, the overt sections are just 33 words and the chorus (which repeats twice) is 31 words.

33 non-chorus, overt promotion      9.21%
62 chorus, pseudo-promotional     17.32%
85 total promotional                          23.74%

Similarly, if we look at the amount of time that the product is displayed in the shot, there are approximately 23 of the 156 seconds that show off the Toyota Sienna. That comes out to an estimate 14.74% of the video that promotes the product visually.

What’s the key takeaway? As marketers, we are in a constant struggle on two dimensions – how do we reach more people, and be more promotional (always got that one last key message to get in there!).  As consumers are increasingly uninterested in advertisements, this balance becomes increasingly challenging. If we use Swagger Wagon as one example of how to effectively do both, the answer seems to be somewhere between 15-25% promotional.

Intuitively, this feels right… If we want to reach a large audience, we need to focus 75 – 85% of our content on their interests.  But sometimes it takes this kind of analysis to ground ourselves in what’s working – how we’re really breaking through with consumers, and what are the key insights that are worth analyzing so that we can learn and become better.

Kudos to Jody Hill and Kimberly Gardiner (Toyota’s Social Media lead) on the breakthrough work with Swagger Wagon.  As the social media marketing industry continues to breakthrough with consumers, we’ll continue to analyze, dissect, and quantify precisely what’s leading to that success 🙂

Toyota’s Swagger Waggon Video is 9 – 25% Promotional

By: Paul Dyer

Leader, Media + Engagement

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  1. I love doing this sort of quantitative/textual analysis. The ratio reminds me of an old adage to offer 5 compliments for every 1 piece of instruction or criticism. That 83% : 17% ratio isn’t far from the “what they want to hear” : “what you want to say” ratio in Swagger Wagon.

    Once again, everything we need to know we learned in Kindergarten…

  2. LOVE THAT VIDEO! So very funny! While this advertisement is somewhere around 9 – 25% promotion, what about other very successful advertisements like the “Will It Blend” series by Blendtec which have a much higher ration of promotion?

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