What David Duchovny taught us about marketing? [The Making of a Celebrity Campaign]

immanuel vinikas headshot
Immanuel Vinikas
Updated May 12 2022
immanuel vinikas headshot
Immanuel Vinikas
Updated May 12 2022

So, we launched our first-ever large-scale campaign with a Hollywood celebrity. In this interview article, we’ll take you behind the scenes and share some important takeaways from our experience. Meet the team that turned a crazy idea into a great campaign: Guy Gold (Creative Director), Ud Doron (Brand and Content Strategy Director), and Nohar Zmora (VP Brand Marketing & Strategic Business).

 

 

 

So, what was the idea behind the celebrity campaign with David Duchovny?

Nohar: Kaltura’s solutions have helped many leading companies build their brand through video experiences and more specifically extraordinary virtual and hybrid events. But until now we’ve been so busy serving our customers –including 25% of the US Fortune 100 companies—guiding them through the challenging shift to virtual events and crafting the best event experiences for THEIR customers. Now we can finally spread the word wide and far and make sure other companies and brands can leverage our best-in-class solution and offer the same standard to their event attendees. Last November, our Virtually Live! by Kaltura online marketing event marked a shift towards raising brand awareness for Kaltura and presenting our event experience solutions to a wider audience. The David Duchovny campaign continues that trend, creating a drum roll for our brand and promoting our Event Platform and Virtual Classroom solutions.

 

Guy: We were brainstorming creatives and ideas and we knew we wanted to go big. It was Nohar who saw things even bigger than the rest of us and suggested working with a celebrity.

 

 

Why David Duchovny?

Guy: We started to throw a bunch of names around, but we kept getting back to David Duchovny who seemed a good fit with our brand, values, and audience. I challenge you to watch the commercial and imagine a better fit in that role than David. He’s perfect! And it so happened that David just released his latest movie “The Bubble”, which tells the story of a cast trying to complete a film during the pandemic. That the storyline of our campaign is aligned with his latest movie is just pure kismet.

 

David Duchovny

 

Tell us a bit more about that storyline?

Guy: The initial idea came from Ud. We wanted to be relevant to the times. Something to which the viewers can relate. The story is set in David’s basement where he sits out “the end of the world,” which dramatically reflects how many of us felt in the last couple of years, with pandemics and volcanoes erupting, and a lot of screen time but with it also this crazy revelation of new and powerful ways of living, working, meeting, connecting, and learning. In the ‘Event Platform’ version of the commercial, David tells the viewers that the current situation is no reason to be anti-social and that they can take part in or organize any kind of event with Kaltura.

 

The ‘Virtual Classroom’ version of the commercial starts in pretty much the same way, but, this time, David wants to learn a new craft. In the same way that many of us have turned the pandemic-related restrictions into an opportunity to self-improve and embrace new learnings and hobbies. He chooses to attend an online origami class. While he sits in on the session, he shares the ‘why’ with the viewer, as well as the ‘how’, which obviously points to Kaltura’s virtual classroom solution. It’s all about the need to live life, learn, and connect with others in a meaningful way, from anywhere and at any time.

 

David Duchovny

 

Was the script written with David Duchovny in mind?

Ud: We were already working on a script before David was attached to it. The funny thing is you write a script and then you get David Duchovny and then suddenly, you’re not so sure about the script anymore. It’s a lot of pressure. We got to seven iterations before we decided to go with it. The script can be great. If you get a David Duchovny to play in it, you’ll always wonder how you could make it bigger, better, and more impactful.

 

Nohar: The whole campaign was an exercise in flexibility and agility, right from the ideation stage. We started with a totally different idea, and then David came into the picture, so we made it a celebrity-based campaign. Shooting a video in times of Covid created quite a few uncertainties and force majeure situations. We had to delay the production because of newly imposed health restrictions. Then we had to delay the shoot a second time because of Covid cases among the production team. As Guy said, all this tied in really well with the idea behind David’s latest Netflix release… We experienced a real-life “The Bubble” scenario with one of the main actors of that movie.

 

During the Virtually Live! by Kaltura event, we raised the concept of marketers being “Knights in Marketing Armor”, expressing great appreciation for the agility and creativity they showed during Covid times. The David Duchovny campaign has surely put our own concept to the test.

 

David Duchovny

 

How was it, shooting with a Hollywood celebrity?

Guy: It was a very different experience. Not in the least because our team was spread across different continents and time zones, and we had to collaborate and produce the shoot semi-remotely. So, we co-directed the shoot remotely. Even though we were the ones commissioning the shoot, we were still a bit star-struck, so we had a meet-and-greet with David via video conference.

 

Funny story, at the end of our chat, David blew a little kiss to the camera as if to say goodbye. One of our colleagues thought the kiss was directed personally at him and returned the kiss to David. He experienced a little star crush, there. Awkward for our colleague, but oh so hilarious for the rest of us. That sort of became our internal joke. We love him dearly.

 

Other than that, it was a tremendous experience to work with such a high-level actor. Everything went very smoothly and for the only shot that took a second take, David was the first to suggest a do-over. The whole shoot was in the can in just over an hour.

 

Watch our “Behind-The-Scenes” video:

How are you following up on this campaign?

Nohar: We’ve also launched a robust email campaign as part of the overall initiative. In this email, the commercial is just the “headline” attracting the eyeballs. The body of the email –the real news– is that we’re launching our next-generation Event Platform that consolidates our  vast experience with virtual events and enables anyone to create, manage, and measure any type of event.

 

 

 

How is this campaign different from past marketing campaigns?

Guy: It’s the scale that’s the biggest difference. Until recently, our main focus was on lead generation campaigns and smart acquisition and now we are aiming much wider to tell the world about what Kaltura has built and how we are powering our customers. The David Duchovny video is our first 360-degree campaign producing an arsenal of assets that cover a big part of the marketing funnel.

 

Nohar: Legalities also made this campaign a different beast altogether. Contracts, agents, and unions are all forces to be reckoned with. You need consultation, from your own legal team but also from external consultants who have experience with celebrity projects of this caliber, to understand how to deal with all these factors.

 

 

 

Why the change in marketing strategy?

Ud: Because Kaltura is going through big changes. We’ve been around for 15 years delivering great video solutions to our clients, but in terms of marketing, we mainly relied on smart and targeted demand generation. I also think that we love our product so much that our campaigns always included lots of under-the-hood information. The David Duchovny campaign marks a big change in the way Kaltura tells its product and primarily – its brand story. We’re really putting ourselves out there this time, new looks, new voice, and all that Jazz.

 

David Duchovny

 

What should our readers, many of which are marketing professionals, take away from this interview?

Ud: Don’t cram the whole marketing funnel into your one commercial. Not that this is something we did, but it is something that became apparent to me as we worked on this campaign. When you have a celebrity involved and you work with that kind of budget, the temptation to put everything into it becomes strong.

 

Your celebrity is there to attract eyeballs. That’s their job. People will click on David Duchovny much faster than they would on a random person. But never forget that the real star of the ad is your brand and your product. Then it’s up to you to build your 360-degree campaign around that ad and complete the marketing funnel with hyper-targeted product-led campaigns and lead generation.

 

A lot goes on during this kind of campaign. It’s important to get your strategy straight before you start and to think of it long-term. Intermittently, it’s healthy to stop and look at what you’re doing and realign with your strategy again. It will keep your mind, and your campaign, focused. Be committed to the type of campaign you want to run. Don’t try to do brand awareness and sprinkle it with some product marketing.

 

Nohar: The human factor is crucial for the success of a celebrity campaign. Between the agents, managers, union regulations, and external contractors, there are a lot of needs to be met and a lot of different angles. It’s important to build open relationships and a strong rapport with all the parties involved. For instance, due to schedule changes, we were waiting for documentation and approvals, so David’s team pulled a few strings to accelerate things and get everything in order. They were also very flexible regarding shooting times et cetera during the shoot. They went the extra mile for us because we had a great connection and collaboration going on. It was really a joint project in which everyone worked closely together.

 

 

What’s next for the Kaltura Brand Marketing Team?

Nohar: This campaign is not a one-off thing. We’re setting the bar high for our future marketing campaigns. Right now, we’re already working on the Virtually Live! podcast, which will be launched in June 2022, the next Virtually Live! by Kaltura industry event, and more great campaigns and events coming up. So, keep your eyes peeled!

 

 

 

Production credits:

Production: Besties Make Movies & DOFO Productions
Director: Alon Weigenfeld
Script: TSFM – Tal Rosenthal and Noam Sharon

Kaltura
Brand: Lisa Bennett, Nohar Zmora
Creative: Guy Gold
Script: Ud Doron
Production: Josefin Shafrir, Nir Bendler
After and design: Gal Narunsky, Hillel Cohen, Nitzan Livni, Eyal Yosef, Guido Bertisch, Ashley Amar, Tally Levin, Hen Azar, Gali Avidan
Social: Ben Biron