Meet Your Peers: HP

As of 7/Aug/2018 HP has 109,371 subscribers.

In 2015 Hewlett-Packard split into two companies: HPE (Enterprise) and HPQ (HP Inc.) HPQ is the side that owns the hardware (laptops, printers, etc.). While the YouTube channel isn’t explicit we can assume this is the channel for HPQ as these videos are focused on selling hardware.

Their most viewed video, Phones on Drones Used to Hack Wireless Printers, has more than 6 million views but only 18 likes (22 dislikes) and 10 comments, all of which seem to point out how unrealistic and unverified HP’s claim is.

Their second most viewed video is an ad for their products aimed at the education market. Their third most viewed is an ad for ink cartridges.

HP’s channel is populated with various agency made adverts and customer testimonials. My favorite video on HP’s channel is Brothers. It’s an advert for a laptop but it’s about two brothers, one deaf, connecting through creativity and music. It’s beautiful and genuinely touching and the laptop plays just a bit role in the piece. It currently has 137,000+ views but deserves more and the comments show viewers were genuinely impressed. Did it sell HP laptops? That kind of data you can’t divine from superficial, public YouTube stats but it did entertain and move viewers at the very least.

Features

HP has tried some high-end ‘feature’ pieces with known stars and big budgets.

The pieces have an ominous cinematic tone drawing heavily on that “Mr. Robot” aesthetic and even borrowing one of it’s stars, Christian Slater. These episodes look expensive and have star power and yet each episode has less the 100,000 views. Why? My theory is the cinematic approach doesn’t stretch to the writing which is humorless. Slater is The Wolf (we all saw Pulp Fiction; we know where this moniker is borrowed from), an omnipresent, invisible hacker and voice of the whole narrative. It is hard to “show, don’t tell” in a two minute short and the hacks through a networked printer that result in taking down a whole network seems to be cheap scaremongering but not in an entertaining way. To make a convoluted story short, he Wolf walks into a GP’s office and hacks their system while the receptionist is busy, to increase the dose of one, specific corporate officer’s med so that he has heart attack-like systems while on a fishing vacation. The Wolf somehow then hacks that officer’s company’s network through one online printer taking down the whole network and stealing all their customer’s data. There are more plausible Mission Impossible plot-lines but at least those movies have stunts and funny quips to keep you watching.

In April of 2018 they followed up with a series called “The Fixer” featuring Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks. Without their huge bumpers these have about a minute’s worth of content and are much more standard ad fare. Series 1 of the fixer had 3 episodes (123) each getting around 40k views.They followed up with a second series of 3 episodes but only one of that series has 16,000+ views while the other two each have less than 5000 views and about 25 likes.

Comedy

HP have tried their hand at the tricky business/comedy genre. They paired up with the almost forgotten “Computer Show” which as a geeky comedy show aping an 80’s cable technology show. It was a smart choice of partners. For a moment geeks were sharing this show and it looked like it might take off but there were only 3 episodes, one of which was a HP Printers ad. There were a couple more short episodes posted to the HP channel. Rob Baedeker, the actor who plays the host, carries the show but the comedy does little to hide this just an HP ad dressed in a funny frock. The first HP episode has more than a quarter of a million views but only 39 likes and 1 comment which smells fishy as the other episodes in the series got less than 5 thousand views each. HP obviously spent money on this series and they aren’t bad: the comedy writing and performances are decent but just it’s too thin a veil to hide the HP payload and so it missed its mark. It’s yet another example of why comedy in corporate video is such a tricky tightrope to walk.

Documentary

HP have tried short documentaries with videos like Ghost Wave. HP use a light touch with only a few shots and mentions of their technology in there. This is how I think corporate documentary videos should be done but with less than 200,000 views HP should be pushing this content more. Making the video is only have the job; getting it seen takes real effort and investment.

Conclusion

HP are doing a lot right. They are obviously investing a good amount in making quality videos. My guess is a lot of this is agency created content. They are trying a lot of different, reasonably progressive things like feature kind of content and documentary content. They have used more old-school star names and have tried to engage using social media personalities. HP are in a tough market: HP are in that tricky position where they are selling to both enterprises and consumers. The way you address each is very different which can lead to slightly schizophrenic marketing and videos. HPQ’s stock price has done well since the 2015 split, matching it’s 2010 price although it’s some way off its pre-tech bubble, year 2000 crash price. They must be doing something right. What I don’t see a lot of is consumer created content or education kinds of content. We think that consumer created content helps to improve brand loyalty and tutorials, which a hardware company is in a great position to create, are an opportunity to connect with your customers outside of the buying cycle. Although video quality is generally high, view counts are not spectacular. If I were king I’d take some of that budget that’s been given to high-end agencies and I’d use it to get more eyeballs. There’s no point in creating great content if not a lot of people are seeing it. I’d also look at creating content that might attract people to subscribe to my channel instead of just seeing individual videos. If I buy an HP laptop there’s currently no real reason I’d subscribe to the HP channel. If there were tutorials on how to accomplish various tasks on my hardware and they were periodically released I might subscribe. Then I might get more attached to the brand and HP would have a chance to pitch to me when it was time to upgrade.

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