There are many ways to announce new products and services. One company’s approach over the last ten years stands out in my mind. After seeing their latest video, I went back to the earliest one I could find and they have been remarkably consistent over the years. Despite not deviating from their formula, their videos continue to get traction. I’m talking about Boston Dynamics, an engineering and robotics design company.
Do you remember this video from January 2009?
Here’s another one, this time from March 2019:
Sure, there is improved video quality, more polished robots, and a more orchestrated demonstration. In general, these videos are remarkably similar. This style has become a signature for them as they released new videos of their robots online over the last decade. If you watch the rest of the videos on Boston Dynamics’ YouTube channel, they are all similar.
There are a few reasons why I think these videos succeed:
- Features First: They show straight-forward (though not simple) demonstrations, putting what their product can do front and center. No distractions. No gimmicks. No fluff.
- Short and to the Point: Anywhere from 25 seconds to just over 3 minutes, these videos don’t waste your time. They progress through each step of the demonstration, letting the robot and the viewer briefly reset before the robot faces its next challenge.
- LoFi Production: There is an inherent trustworthiness in the videos because you can be nearly certain that the video is unaltered. On the other hand, this aesthetic can create a cold feeling for the viewer amidst the unceasing hum of the motors, gears, and components.
- Anthropomorphism: Wherever these robots lie in the uncanny valley, viewers also respond sympathetically to videos showing the robots being forced to struggle. You inevitably see comments about how “the robots will remember this!” The fact that they can balance this with the cold feeling of the videos is really something.
I’m a big fan of video content. It is a great format for storytelling. You have to think their return on investment for these videos (cost per impression plus earned media) has to be astronomically good, too.
While these videos all have viral appeal with millions of views, I think the most important part of this is that professionals in robotics, mechatronics, embedded electronics, etc. must appreciate how sophisticated Boston Dynamics’ robots are based on the activities they are completing. The company is able to cater to both wider audiences and their market niche at the same time.
It helps when you make cool products and there is broad cultural interest in your industry. But arguably this same advantage exists for all their competitors in this highly competitive space. Boston Dynamics has taken a counter-intuitive way to raise brand awareness and it seems to be working because they keep doing it.