The corporate video must die

Published May 21, 2021, 6:58 a.m. by Lars-Petter Steen

“The corporate video, as we know it, must die,” says Spoon’s video producer Lars-Petter Steen.

The script that hits the agency’s inbox has been written and rewritten, sent around within the organization way too many times and undergone at least 12 feedback rounds. It is finally approved by the marketing manager, the communications manager and even the CEO has given his blessing after a few minor adjustments.

The script, which must not be changed, is the basis for a film that – with voice over – will explain just how successful the company is and what deep and profound values it has. It is now up to the agency to realize the company’s vision. But the entire production is already doomed to fail.

When I started producing videos for companies over a decade ago, video production was still a rather expensive story. And the lack of creativity and competence in the industry was a major problem – pretty much all corporate videos looked the same. Either the CEO stood there and talked endlessly about some annual result, or there was an annoying and never-ending voice over accompanied by the most clichéd footage imaginable.

Nowadays it’s – somewhat – different. Video content is churned out like never before, by video-savvy agencies as well as newly started in-house departments with internal expertise. Today, anyone can call themselves a video producer. Thanks to free stock footage and automated video services that can mix images, text and music into an explainer in a few minutes.

Still, they keep popping up. You know what I’m talking about. The videos where some poor guy with a long title is desperately grabbing the teleprompter, or a forced voice over keeps talking and talking and talking, still accompanied by the most clichéd footage imaginable. The second the video ends, the viewer has forgotten everything that was said.

Why do these videos still get made? And whose fault is it? Saying “that was what the client ordered” is not a valid excuse anymore. We, as a creative industry, must be better at challenging the order and suggesting something more effective. Otherwise, how are we better than that automated video service?

One thing is certain. Voice over can never be the voice of great video storytelling. A monologue is rarely the basis of an engaging video narrative. What engages and inspire the audience is the cinematography, the music, the sound, the graphics, the editing and the characters that penetrate through the lens with their personalities. This is where the power lies in video storytelling – not the number of words you can pack in the course of the play time.

The corporate video, as we know it, must die. There are far too many good stories within all companies, and they shouldn’t be neglected because of these uninspiring, formulaic videos. Videos that can only be appreciated by the client who ordered them.