Shutterstock Creates Video on its Own "Terms"

Published on in Exclusive Interviews

When you hear, "corporate video," it doesn't always command your attention. That's why big brands like Shutterstock are changing the traditional approach to corporate video, captivating the audience through powerful storytelling, and connecting consumers with brands. Shutterstock isn't using celebrities or fancy editing either; its stars are a little younger and a lot less experienced. Derick Rhodes, Director, Footage, Shutterstock discusses his team's creative strategy for their Terms of Service spot...and why it's wildly effective. 

Q:  Describe the creative thought process behind Shutterstock's Terms of Service video.

Rhodes: At Shutterstock we're big believers in the power of storytelling, so we make sure to spend the time it takes to effectively brainstorm our video concepts. In this case, one of the members of our communications team had floated the idea of getting "the kids of Shutterstock" involved with a different video project a few months before this, but we eventually decided it wasn't the right fit. When someone suggested that maybe having children introduce the terms of service changes would make for a fun and interesting approach, the group involved with this project immediately came up with a great list of ideas for how we could position the video.

Q: What steps do you take to come up with a video for Shutterstock. How is it different than other types of video? 

Rhodes: There's a great quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln that I think captures our approach: "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." Most of our successful, concept-driven videos start with a small team honing in on a few basic ideas, and then those ideas get refined over the course of a few weeks as an editor moves the video from "draft" to "final." We like to test things quickly, getting feedback from a couple of uninvolved/objective parties along the way, and we're not afraid to let go of a given concept if it's just not working. Generally speaking, our thinking is that you need to have a compelling concept and high-quality content to stand out in the video world. Most of the videos Shutterstock produces are about showing off our content without being overtly commercial or sales-y.

Q: Why did you decide to use the children?

Rhodes: Our thinking was that nobody really wants to watch a video about a change in licensing terms, and that working with kids to tell the story would give us a chance to say something about Shutterstock and how we think about our relationships with customers and contributors.

Q: In your opinion, how was this effective? 

Rhodes: I think the kids being exasperated by the terms and stumbling over various sentences really helped us to connect with the audience. We're saying, in effect, "We get it - licensing terminology is the last thing anyone wants to think about, so we're going to make it as easy as possible to digest so you can get back to doing what you do." Also, the Internet loves cuteness, and we're totally not being biased when we say that our colleagues have seriously cute kids, so we were happy to let them speak on our behalf.

Q: How do you determine the success of a corporate video? What is considered a "successful" corporate video? (if possible, create a small list of examples)  

Rhodes: The success of any video comes down to the goal you're working towards. In this case, we wanted to present a dry topic with humor and playfulness, and the goal wasn't so much to garner a huge number of views as it was to create a connection with our customers and contributors. We want them to know that we understand their pain points and that we have a sense of humor about things.

For some of the other videos we've created, there are specific goals around communicating the diversity of our footage collection ("80 Clips Around the World" is a good example: or trying to disrupt people's ideas of what stock footage is all about. "Directors' Cuts: A Stock Footage Tribute to Five Modern Directors" also does a great job of this: 

Around the World in 80 Clips from Shutterstock on Vimeo.

Directors' Cuts: A Stock Footage Tribute to the Visual Styles of Modern Directors from Shutterstock on Vimeo.

Q: What are a few aspects that every corporate video should have?

Rhodes: There are a couple "musts" in the world of corporate video - and each of these applies to pretty much any type of video production - but we always have these three things in mind:

1. Get to the point quickly. Attention spans are waning, and viewers don't want to wait through a long intro to get a sense for what a given video is about.

2. People speaking to the camera - and especially sympathetic people (hint: kids!) - are hard to turn away from. As humans, a relatable face speaking to us directly is almost always the best route to engagement.

3. Optimize your videos for mobile! This might mean shooting people at a closer range for greater emotional impact or using macro lenses to make the details really stand out, but it's important to keep in mind that an increasing percentage of videos are being viewed on mobile devices.

Q: How is this one from Shutterstock different than others Shutterstock has created? 

Rhodes: This is really the first video we've made which is purely about changes to a legal agreement on the website . . . so unlike most of our other videos - where we're featuring content and how to use it - this one didn't really involve showing off any assets which allowed us to take a totally different approach to production.

Shutterstock's New Terms of Service from Shutterstock on Vimeo.

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