DuPont's viral video pitch
by Josh Bernoff
DuPont is responsible for brands like Teflon, Kevlar, Tyvek and, as you can see in this clip, Nomex, which helps prevent firefighters from overcooking. These are ingredient brands -- you don't buy them, you buy stuff that incorporates them. And these brands already have decent name recognition, but DuPont has a lot less. You could do a bunch of TV ads like GE and BASF do, but that's expensive. And if you remember DuPont at all -- if you're over 45 like I am -- you may remember "Better Things For Better Living Through Chemistry," a tagline that has developed some unfortunate resonances in the last half-decade.
DuPont's solution, which I like, was to hire Amanda Congdon (ex of RocketBoom) and a bunch of indie film types and make some mini-documentaries they call "DuPoint Science Stories." I don't even know what to call these things -- they're not quite ads, not infomercials, hell, you can shoot me but maybe brandumentaries? (Ick.) Anyway, they're entertaining enough to watch for a few minutes, especially with the bits of retro footage they unearthed from the lab.
The key from here is, they were smart enough not to take the astroturf route and pretend this stuff was homegrown. Instead, they're actually paying for ad space on blogs like Boing-Boing. But these fun little bits will doubtless get picked up by other blogs (like this one), cross-posted on YouTube, and develop a second little life beyond the site where they live, stories.dupont.com. This only works if they get spread around.
Now like the Chevy Tahoe folks, DuPont is going to be in for some spoofs -- there's plenty of parody potential here. But the next step is when Ad Age or the Wall St. Journal starts writing about the strategy behind the idea. Which will get people looking at and spreading the videos. Which will boost DuPont's association with these "miracles of science." Which is what they were looking for in the first place . . . without spending $10 million for ad avails on CBS or Fox. Nice work.