The hunt for earned media has been on for quite a while and every marketeer is demanding that their agency partners help their content work as hard as possible for them. There are several examples that have done this well, but the hit rate is not consistent. For this reason when a Brand does have regular wins it is interesting to see how they have had success. DC Shoes is one of them (see their website here).
DC Shoes has had a string of successes with their Gymkhana videos. These are mini action sport films of a growing motor sport that is an offspring of rally racing (see wiki definition here). You have probably seen footage from X-Games news reports. The success has been so strong that DC Founder and Chief Brand Officer Ken Block, who happens to be a Gymkhana driver, has allocated a significant part of his annual marketing budget to these films.
The films are not given distribution budget, rather they use their existing communities as well as blogs and news outlets. In other words they have found the right forums to hit the right influencers to have the films spread virally. The results are pretty noteworthy. The films have achieved over 160 million views to date. Moreover, these views (on judgement) are among people who would be interested in buying DC Shoes.
What is it about these films that people want to share them? To learn anything about their success it is less about what is good about them and more about what approach created the success. First, they lean heavily into a human value that is key for their audience. They touch on that deep need and bring it to life with incredible power. Second, they are real. These are stunts done by a real person in a real setting. In other words, there is an appreciation of mastery. Third, there a focus on production excellence. You have a better chance of having people appreciate something if it is really well-done. Fourth, there is an obsession with detail and creativity. In the films, there are scenes that are so meticulous and so different that you can’t help but be drawn in with greater emotion and want to see them again and again. Lastly, there is also personal investment. Each film is created by Block and his team, not an agency. This means that they know what they and thus their audience will want to watch.