The Promo Promoting the Promo (or, a New Media Form for Promo Videos)

Promopromo Cover Final 1Shortly after graduating from Conestoga College’s Digital Media program in the spring of 2015, I spent some months working on a short promotional video for the Henrys’ album Quiet Industry. As many other album-release promos were simultaneously in the works by others, I took the project on spec. In the process, I created two supplemental components for my video: a new form of media—the promo promoting the promo.

My idea was simple: to maximize the expenditure of time and energy against short shelf life. While much money and production time goes into many promotional videos, the videos themselves typically have a limited window of service (or, low return on investment). A video can promote an album release date, for example, but once that date has been reached, there’s little reason for people to bother watching the promo. I felt I could create a reason for people to watch beyond the original promotional video by creating two humorous behind-the-scenes videos.

As stand-alone shorts serving the same immediate promotional needs as the full-on promo video, they prominently featured the band’s album art and release date but stood more timelessly as narratives between two fictional characters. They didn’t try to sell anything (an angle always best avoided for the millennial demographic and their view of the media as a whole). They were straightforward entertainment—videos in their own right that, while forever embedded with promo imagery for the Henrys, could be viewed for their own sake for years. Without any real production cost, they effectively extended the shelf life of the original promo and maximized the time and dollars spent on it.

The overall idea for these videos came to me while rendering versions of my full-on Quiet Industry promo (with the rendering being “the making of” process humorously referenced in the video titles). As I sat there watching the progress bar inching along, I began thinking about boredom and how universal it was as a thematic element, from idling in traffic jams to waiting in bank lines. Grabbing a microphone, I ad libbed a short conversation between two characters: a beleaguered video engineer and his bored, impatient assistant. Setting the recording against a seemingly motionless shot, I prefaced the segment with informal footage of myself and my partner Mary Beth mugging for the camera, setting a tone indicating that what would follow would be humorous in nature. Then I chose filters and colors to lightly emulate those chosen for my Henrys’ video.

In the end, my album-release video didn’t make the Henrys’ final promo-package mix. So I didn’t send out the supplemental shorts (meaning no one involved with the Henrys or Quiet Industry has seen this material or endorses it). Yet I wanted to share my creations. I felt they had something to offer as a format of thought for anyone involved in promotions, now or in the future (particularly in video). So I waited until the June 11, 2015, release date of Quiet Industry had gone well past so as not to tip anyone’s hand, and offer the supplemental videos here for the first time, complete with that new-video smell. The only thing I’m stuck on: what to call this new media form. The promo-promo? Got a suggestion? Let me know. That might be a whole other video: Name Suggestions for the Promo Video Promoting the Promo.

Please note: No part of these videos infringes on copyright, either that of the Henrys or those involved in the album. All video footage, narrative and still images copyright © 2015 Xristopher Bland for ABM Creative. All rights reserved.


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