#MarketingExcellenceAwards spills: Viddsee's co-founder shares formula behind creating award-winning projects

Taking home the bronze award for the Excellence in TV/video advertising category of Marketing Excellence Awards 2020 is video entertainment platform Viddsee. Amidst the fierce competition, Viddsee managed to wow the judges with its compelling narrative for the film it created in collaboration with AXA Insurance, titled "The Family Portrait".

Since it launched its Viddsee Studios in 2017, Viddsee has always aimed to drive message and brand values in an emotional and narrative-driven storytelling. Derek Tan, co-founder of Viddsee, shares with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE in an exclusive interview about how it creates insight-driven films that helps its clients achieve their business objectives. Tan (pictured) also delves into how Viddsee has been building Viddsee Studios over the past three years to be an effective content creating and marketing engine. Read more about Viddsee's efforts to disrupt the content marketing sector here. 

What are some of the expectations your clients now have for your agency?

Tan: Ever since we launched Viddsee Studios in 2017, we’ve always believed in the qualities of emotional and narrative-driven storytelling to communicate a client’s message and brand values to its audience.

And we’re starting to see clients pay closer attention to audience data, and how that shapes the story and message. In "The Family Portrait", for example, we created the story based on the client’s insights that while over 80% of Singaporeans surveyed are aware of the importance critical illness plans, only 20% of working adults in Singapore have insurance coverage that would on average meet financial needs if critical illness occurs. Coupled with our audience data of people watching short films on Viddsee, we knew that family dramas (especially emotionally fraught ones) were often a hit among Singaporeans, resulting in us creating this five-minute short film that was then adapted accordingly across different social platforms.  

The combination of insights from client surveys, Viddsee’s audience behaviour, along with a filmmaker whose films we know carry the right qualities, allows us to create films that we know will work for the client’s objectives. It’s an approach that has worked for other award-winning projects like last year’s Project RED, which addressed the issue of foreign integration, and As One, which highlight the meaningful work behind public officials and Singaporeans working together side-by-side to help communities, save businesses and jobs and curb the virus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How has your marketing/your clients marketing plans shifted this year?

Tan: Every marketer wants their content plans to be effective. They want to make original content that syncs up with their message and reaches their intended audience. We know that creating content that audiences want to watch is key to any campaign’s success, but distribution is equally, if not more important, in ensuring that the video is seen by the right audience.

And that’s what we’ve been building Viddsee Studios to be over the past three years: an effective content creating and marketing engine.  Within, we have our first-party audience analytics derived from those watching films on Viddsee’s content platform; we have an award-winning production team that can work with a network of filmmakers across the region; and a content marketing team who can push out the films to ready audiences across multiple platforms.

What are some of the trends you see carrying on post-pandemic, and how are you readying your workforce to be ready with these trends?

Tan: We’ve seen over the past year that people are always in search of new and entertaining content, and that’s what we’re gearing ourselves up for this year. In 2021, our lineup of Viddsee Original content includes 17 short-form series, 11 documentaries and 18 short films in Singapore and Indonesia -- and that’s just the start.

We’re continuing to work with brands and agencies to create content that continues to be entertaining and effective in driving tangible returns, as was shown with the results of The Family Portrait.

Still, as much as we’re buzzed about the coming year, we’re not in a post-pandemic era yet, and our content and brand films need to reflect that. We expect partners and brands to highlight sustainability, environmental, social and governance issues. This continues what we’ve done over the past year by working with Gov.sg in creating "As One", which highlighted how public officers and Singaporeans worked in managing the pandemic; and "0" (zero), a documentary series about environmental and social sustainability in Singapore.

What do you think makes for great marketing these days?

Tan: The principles of great marketing haven’t changed – it’s still about authentic storytelling, understanding the audiences’ needs and wants, and getting the right models of distribution. What we’re seeing with audiences, in part shaped by the pandemic, is a desire for brands to be more empathetic and caring towards their needs as a community. And that means listening more to what audiences are saying.

This gives an opportunity for clients to extend their brand stories into an action point – enabling their audiences to do something for their community – and even take the initiative themselves to lift the communities they care about through actions to improve their community’s mental health, emotional well-being, job opportunities, and providing aid to the vulnerable. It’s not enough to say “we’re all in this together” and then continue to sell the latest SKU.

And as we move towards a post-pandemic era in 2021, it’s time for brands to be a light for consumers who have felt overwhelmed over the past year. Brands, now more than ever, need to humanize and be selfless, and show that they aren’t just a corporate façade pushing a product or lifestyle.

How are you planning for 2021?

Tan: We’ll be kicking off 2021 without a break – in the first couple of weeks of January, we’ll be premiering some of our most-anticipated Viddsee Original series: "1,000 Cups To Midnight", "Gangster Nurse" and "Fantastic Fables". These were created by talented Singaporeans through the help of the StoriesTogether Content Fund, which was set up to help the local filmmaking and creative industry over the past year. We’re also excited for the launch of "In Your Shoes", Eileen Chong’s documentary series that explores the value of work that often goes unnoticed or underappreciated – from sewer workers to tombstone makers.