Austin-based interactive ad agency Tocquigny embarrassed itself with a video meant to show prospective interns how fun it is to work at the company over the summer. Instead of showing how quirky and Internet-savvy Tocquigny was, it proved to be a turnoff — and a ripoff. Besides not copying someone else's work, what could Tocquigny have done differently? Using five examples the agency should have followed, we'll explain how to do a self-promotional corporate video right:Rule No. 1: Convince the video's participants that the end product will be less embarrassing if they don't worry about being embarrassed while they make it. Get your people to either commit themselves fully to the project, or stay out of the way. Vimeo's companywide lip synch of Harvey Danger's "Flagpole Sitta" wouldn't work nearly so well if the girl listening to her iPod at the beginning didn't keep such a straight face. Know what else doesn't hurt? Actually memorizing the lyrics. Rule No. 2: Get the heavies involved. Digg's "Groove Is In The Heart" from Mark Trammell wouldn't be nearly so worth watching if CEO Jay Adelson didn't start rapping two minutes in. Tocquigny's video featured only interns, making it seem like the real executives didn't take the PR project seriously. What kind of example does that set for the monkey-see-monkey-do younguns?
Rule No. 3: Plan meticulously and practice. Here's "L'amour a la française" from AOL France. Note how precisely the performers hit their marks. Note how cleverly new singers appear on the screen. That's dedication, people! (It probably didn't hurt that the most of these people knew they were about to be laid off and probably spent most of their remaining time working on this video.) Rule No. 4: Learn to edit. Facebook code monkeys — here dressed as White Ninjas for the company's annual games day festivities — aren't actually supersneaky ninjas; that they appear as such comes from careful editing. A hint: Editing usually takes longer than filming. Rule No. 5: Feature the most attractive coworkers prominently. Sure, a companywide video will probably include everyone from the company. But give the longest shots to the most attractive office-workers, like the girl listening to the iPod at the beginning of the Vimeo video or the swirling blonde in the middle of the video below made by Leonardo Dalessandri's production company, "Tambureddu." Also, be a little cynical and use a frame from one of those shots for the clips' still frame, which will appear in searches and embedded placements in blogs.