Continuing my visual storytelling done right series, today’s entry is Casio’s video for their G-Shock watch with the Dutch KNRM sea rescue team. This is a video sporting gorgeous visuals, but just lacking in depth and it makes some genuine storytelling mistakes.
First off, I feel that Casio made an excellent choice to do the video with the KNRM guys. KNRM is an abbreviation for Koninklijke Nederlandse Reddingsmaatschappij or Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution in English. These are the teams that go out and rescue drowning tourists or provide help when fishermen run into trouble. The general perception is that these are tough guys who aren’t afraid to go out on sea in extremely rough weather and perform some heroic feats. What better people to use in a visual storytelling content marketing piece for a tough watch that can stand the elements? The tagline for the product is absolute toughness, a fitting line for the sea rescue team.
The video starts out with a father and son explaining how they’re both active in the KNRM. For me as a Dutch native it sounds quite funny to hear these guys speak with a fat Dutch accent, but I feel it adds to the authenticity of the video. They explain what life as a sea rescue team member is like and what role the sea plays in their lives. I quite liked the idea of how vital it is to always respect the sea.
The visuals in this video were simply superb. Of course if helps that these men are tough, and the sea and their rescue boats make for incredibly visually attractive subjects. Still, I feel the production crew did a great job of capturing some nice and authentic moments even though they were probably staged. What’s more, it seems that the color grading has really brought out the dark and moody atmosphere associated with the environment this team will usually have to do their work in. I also liked that no super fancy camera techniques appear to have been used, the approach was really direct and effective. The color grading especially is something I will definitely try to keep in mind for the retouching of my own photography.
Overt endorsement lacking a coherent storyline
After this praise, we get to the less positive stuff. Overall I really liked this video, but it seems that the brand was just a little too keen on getting their product in at least some of the spotlight. Somewhere about the halfway mark, the narration by the crew members suddenly switches to the demands their gear has to meet, and how the Casio watch perfectly meets those demands. I feel that this would’ve been the moment the stop that endorsement, but the crew go on to describe some specific features of the watch. To me, this doesn’t appear to be very authentic and instead makes me wonder whether this is genuine visual storytelling or an extensive advertising video.
I really feel that this is a missed opportunity: if the product had been presented just a bit more subtly, both the video and the product would’ve made such a more lasting and positive impression. By having the crew members explicitly plug the product, they lose some credibility and I feel less sympathy for the brand. Consider instead the case where the brand had not plugged the product this overtly and just really created an ode to the KNRM. The watch would’ve made so much more of an impression on me then by just casually being worn by the men, a subtly present tool that purely through being present in some of the shots gets plenty of attention.
Read more of my thoughts on product placement in visual storytelling
On a related note, I feel that the video lacks a clear storyline and message. This is probably largely due to the interruption where the crew members start endorsing the watch, no choice of their own I’m sure, neither that of the creators of the video. It’s a shame when a brand just feels the absolute need to include its product in a content piece like this, and I really feel that the video would’ve been stronger without this part. Due to this interruption, the general storyline and message of the video are somewhat hard to grasp. Instead, it feels like a bit of a showcase for the KNRM, highlighting some of its activities. The storyline of the father and son doesn’t quite make it to the end due to this interruption either, which could’ve worked far better than it did now.
These negative aspects aside I do think Casio delivered an excellent video that really did resonate with me, with its excellent visuals and great subject matter.