Jeff Baker

It’s excruciatingly embarrassing when a big brand tries a massive marketing campaign and epically faceplants.

Remember when the Cleveland Indians had a 10-cent beer night? The tab on that gaffe was nine fans arrested, numerous injuries from thrown “objects,” and infield bases stolen and never returned. That one ended pretty sloppily, if not incredibly predictable.

Threading the needle between creating media that is entertaining and also sells your product is extremely difficult.

For example, how many of you love the video of Chevrolet asking “real people” to read their awards back to them?

You know what happens when you treat your audience like idiots and make them tell you how good you are? Parodies. Parodies for days.

That video plays immediately after the actual Chevy commercial, and has nearly three million views. Bad media makes you look like a bad company. Sorry Chevy, but your marketing sucks.

So let’s take a look at some companies on the other end of the spectrum who have figured out how to thread that needle.

1. Taulia

Why it works

Five seconds shorter or five seconds longer and this video wouldn’t work. It works because it keeps my attention for about as much time as I’m willing to give a corporate video before I bail and check my fantasy baseball lineup.

In addition to being concise, the video manages to sell their business case while being sufficiently funny.

2. Schneider Electric

Why it works

It’s borderline too long, but the quick pace, tight editing and goofy story keep your attention long enough for it to work. And the key phrase here is “story.” Whether you’re crafting a “Schindler’s List” tearjerker or a Caddyshack knee-slapper, you have to tell a good story. This video checks that box.

Also, who is capable of reading “Llama superstar” in a video headline and not wait around to see what the hell it’s all about? Especially for those who still can’t stop watching the DMX llama of 2014.

3. Squarespace

Why it works

Look, I know you aren’t going to have access to The Dude, who is admittedly one of the main reasons  this commercial works. However, omitting a uniquely new type of commercial like this would be doing this post a disservice.

This commercial works because of its sheer simplicity. It’s humanizing and inviting – and at no point does it feel like you’re being sold. Rather, if feels like you’re being informed by a close friend about something that anyone can benefit from.

4. Juan’s Coffee

Why it works

This video works because of the range of emotion it covers in 30 seconds, starting bleakly and ending happy. In the end, you’re left with a brand that appears to be socially responsible and relatable.

When a brand is able to tease out a range of emotions that connect with an audience on a personal level, its message will be heard.

5. Chipotle

Why it works

Apologies to those of you who may still be a bit emotionally tender from a brush with gastroenteritis courtesy of Chipotle. However, your hatred of Chipotle is certainly still in the minority, as this video has over 18 million views.

Polarizing? Yes. A high production value video that elicits emotion? Also, yes. Whether you like it or not, people are watching it, and if people are watching it, it’s working.

Some commonalities

You may not have the budget to create a high-end CGI video, or commission Jeff Bridges to walk around in the forest with a fuzzy microphone, but you do have the ability to write an inspiring story. Whether it’s humor, heartstrings, sadness or happiness, each video was able to tell a story that created emotion. And writing a story can start with a ballpoint pen and napkin.

Where you take it from there is up to you.