Saddleback Leather Company a few days ago released a snarky “how to” video to reveal shortcuts and tricks to help knock-off manufacturers bypass quality, skimp on materials, and produce a richly inferior product — specifically, the Saddleback briefcase, which starts at $568.
There’s so much to love about this funny 12-minute video featuring CEO and founder Dave Munson. But it could use an improvement that would help both this effort and any company looking to create memorable content.
The video is a little long, but it’s worth watching:
First, let’s talk about what’s excellent: It’s useful, inspired by real data, and it’s hilarious. It’s a brilliant concept: “targeting” counterfeiters while telling a bigger story of what your brand stands for.
“If you want to make money knocking off my bag, you’re going to want to know about these materials here.” —Dave Munson
First Thing to Love: Flipping “How-To” On Its Head
I love how Dave and filmmaker Joe Callander turned the notion of a useful “how-to” video on its head, creating a satiric short film that instructs those “ethically challenged and creatively bankrupt people” how to replicate quality without actually producing… well, quality.
The video nails both Saddleback’s voice and Dave’s outraged tone: It tells a true story well, in other words. As a marketing effort, it’s great content to create awareness and generate demand for a product that some might not have been previously considering. It also tells a bigger story related to counterfeiting’s underbelly. (Or possibly, just… uh… belly.)
“Today is your lucky day,” the YouTube copy reads. “[Y]ou too can make loads of money knocking off our Saddleback Leather Briefcases. Riches untold!!! … Think of all the drugs and women and alcohol you’ll be able to buy before they start complaining!!!”
So as Dave walks you through the steps of sourcing inferior materials and manufacturing methods, what he really does, of course, is educate you on what sets a well-built leather product like a Saddleback Bag apart.
“Some of these processes… are going to take some really strong adult hands. But as you know, you don’t need to have adults for everything.” —Dave Munson
Fake fashion is a big problem for luxury brands – as in a $600 billion problem and growing, according to the World Customs Organization. (Other organizations have put the global trade number on knock-offs higher.)
It isn’t illegal to buy counterfeit merchandise in many countries (other than France and Italy). But it is illegal to manufacture them, because they breech intellectual property rights, patents, trademarks and other copyright laws globally.
Losses to legitimate businesses are one thing: Counterfeiting is also associated with a slew of other criminal activities (gangs, drug cartels, organized crime) and with violating human rights and child-labor laws, according to the International Chamber of Commerce.
“Stainless steel… is sooo expensive,” So what you’re going to want to do is get some nickel-plated stuff. You can nickel-plate like plastic… junk hot metal… you could even nickel plate your crack pipe.” — Dave Munson
This Saddleback effort brings some of those facts to life, making it hard for buyers to overlook the implications of buying fake goods like counterfeit Saddleback bags (and Nike shoes, and Prada bags, and Tory Burch boots, and so on). With less preach, and more snark, Dave’s outrage at the thieves seethes just under the surface.
“You will end up saving more money than you will ever make with those gold fillings and jewelry that you get when you dig up those graves,” — Dave Munson
Second Thing to Love: Having a Freakin’ Point of View (and Focus!)
This video has one, thank God, which is consistent with Saddleback’s point of view generally. This is a company that links to its competitors on its website and invites a side-by-side comparison.
I get this question a lot from smaller companies: How can we create all the content? Like video and ebooks and a blog and infographics and cartoons and puppet shows and yadda yadda yadda?
The answer: Don’t. Just breathe. And focus.
Video is increasingly how Saddleback is choosing to voice its point of view — hiring Joe to create video full-time, and apparently planning a full-length feature film.
“What better way to share how we value people and quality and innovation and excellence than through film?” Dave writes on his blog. “As I often tell parents, ‘Your kids are watching your video way more than they’re listening to your audio. Tell them anything, show them everything.’”
Brands: Quit playing it safe. Have a point of view, and find your best way to express it.
One Improvement: What Am I Looking At?
So what would have made this short film better? Given my gushing, I might sound like I’m nit-picking here. And maybe I am. But there is one thing that could’ve made this effort spectacular. (Or maybe more spectacular? Is that a thing?)
My one quibble, from the point of view of a viewer unfamiliar with the briefcase manufacturing process: I wasn’t always sure what I was looking at. Dave is describing how to shave costs off of sourcing and manufacturing. But at some point in the film I got a little lost: Am I watching what Saddleback does, or am I seeing a staged reenactment of cheap manufacturing? It’s a small thing, but I found it distracting.
Brands: In video and in all content: Make your message crystal-clear. Don’t make your audience work to unravel what they’re watching.
Nit-picking? Maybe. But I pick the nits because I care.
What about you? What’s your take on Saddleback’s latest?