As many brands move to six-second spots to promote their brands, Grey Goose has gone in the other direction with “Off Script,” a nine-episode series featuring 10-minute segments of Jamie Foxx interviewing celebrities.
Participants include Melissa McCarthy, Gabrielle Union, Vince Vaughn and Sarah Silverman.
“We wanted to change the model from interrupting with branded content to entertaining with relevant content,” said Yann Marois, CMO and SVP at Grey Goose. “Our purpose was building cultural currency through content that would be relevant to our audience.”
The premium vodka brand paid equal attention to creative and its media plan for the program.
Grey Goose spent the equivalent of one TV ad to produce the nine celebrity-filled episodes. But unlike TV, Grey Goose could “precision target viewers” online, Marois said, stocking that content in places where those consumers were already seeking to be entertained.
Grey Goose picked Group Nine Media publication Thrillist as well as Oath to distribute the content and promote it on their social channels. Group Nine Media’s production studio, Jash, produced the series.
“Grey Goose is able to tap into our strong existing audiences that have opted in and already invite Thrillist into their feed – and we’ve seen nothing but a positive response,” said Group Nine Media President Christa Carone.
The first three episodes attracted 10 million views, 15% of which were organic, an accomplishment in a world where free social boosts have mostly shriveled.
“We use paid media to prime the pump of organic,” Marois said. Grey Goose’s targeting strategy includes viewing behavior. “Showing content to people who are likely to engage and watch additional episodes increases organic shareability,” he said.
Besides targeting viewing behavior and those that like entertainment content, Grey Goose also looked for consumers aged 25-49 who “live in the realm of superpremium brands,” Marois said.
Unlike a TV commercial, digital video allows for creative adjustments based on data about viewing behavior. The first “Off Script” episode opened with a title card and intro sequence.
Starting with the second episode, Grey Goose switched to a cold open, diving straight into the interview before showing the series title card.
This change made it more likely viewers would watch an entire episode. “It’s all about making sure you capture the consumer in the first 10 seconds for them to consume the episode,” Marois said.
Because of those optimizations, dwell times on the episodes averages five to seven minutes, Marois said. On Facebook, “Off Script’s” watch time is triple the average of Facebook Watch shows, Carone added.
Group Nine benefits as well. On Thrillist’s YouTube channel, a mix of paid and organic distribution has each episode racking up hundreds of thousands of views. Thrillist also saw increased subscriber count, due to the strong match between the branded content and the audience, Carone said.
Grey Goose used to distribute branded entertainment on TV, not digital media. A previous interview series, “Iconoclasts,” lasted six seasons on the Sundance Channel starting in 2005.
To fund this project, Grey Goose shifted budgets from traditional media.
Soon it will see if its bet has not just attracted the attention of consumers, but shifted their mindset: Grey Goose is running the series from May to July, after which it will measure changes in brand equity.