Branded docuseries give marketers a longer format to delve into authentic and artistic pieces that highlight people, places, and movements. From shorter-form videos that run up to 20 minutes to longer-form (50-120 minutes), these videos give brands the chance to connect with audiences in a way that feels more like entertainment than ads.
Here are 10 branded docuseries examples on YouTube
When the DNA testing company hired Tribeca Studios to produce a series of shorts, it was adamant that the docuseries should feel authentic without having an advertising spin. The “Identity” series of short films includes 23 powerful stories on the impact of DNA journeys. The 23 filmmakers told compelling stories that touched on diversity, reconnecting with birth parents, uncovering truths, and finding “lost” family members.
MailChimp’s 5-part series “Second Act” featured profiles of people following their dreams to become entrepreneurs. It was a natural topic for the company, which provides email marketing and marketing automation to help businesses create email campaigns and manage their mailing lists. The unscripted series, which was co-produced with VICE, released a second season after the success of the original docuseries.
Browns fans loved the team’s docuseries, “Building the Browns‘ ‘ for its behind-the-scenes footage and candid interviews with current and former players. Initially released in 2019, the series had not only a large viewership, but also won an Emmy. Throughout 2020 and 2021, filming continued despite the challenges posed by Covid-19.
The Humane Society Silicon Valley created the Mutual Rescue initiative to change the conversation around animal welfare. Part of the group’s marketing efforts included a docuseries called “Mutual Rescue Stories” about how dog and cat adoptions changed people’s lives. The heartwarming stories range from a man who lost 130 pounds after adopting a dog to encourage him to get fit, to a traumatized dog who helped lift a man out of depression.
Falling under the category of “mini-documentaries,” the Uber Eats series tells the stories of restaurant partners who use the service. Each video showcases a restaurant from around the globe. Using behind-the-scenes shots of the operation, narration from the restaurant’s owner, and a variety of shots highlighting the dishes they serve, the pieces feel like authentic profiles of real restaurateurs without heavy scripts and amateur acting.
Outdoor gear company Yeti is considered a pioneer in branding its own online content that focused on stories about people rather than its line of products. The unscripted show “Hungry Life” follows Chef Eduardo Garcia on adventures that entertain and inform. Filming meetups with Yet brand ambassadors to learn about the environment and fishing while serving up delicious food makes for great entertainment.
Financial services and digital payments company Square created the series “Black Owned” to explore the history, experience, and the voice of Black entrepreneurial spirit and its essential contribution to the American economy. The docuseries highlights the perspectives and experiences of Black business owners in Chicago, St. Louis, and Jackson. The branded content explores the unique experience through the lens of contemporary conditions alongside the historical backdrop of the communities where these entrepreneurs live and do business.
It’s hard to not love a docuseries about people spreading love in their communities. Nutella’s “Spread the Happy” collection of feel-good stories provides just the lift people are looking for in uncertain times. Audiences are treated to sweet pieces on seniors knitting caps for premature babies, a native Hawaiian sharing knowledge about the environment with kids, and a couple who invested in the academic future of a kindergarten class.
While “Undercover Boss” always revealed the problems at a company, “Undercover Lyft” managed to remind its audience that all is right in the world. The videos in the series feature celebrities pretending to be Lyft drivers as they pick up unsuspecting customers. The reactions from riders range from sweet and funny to outright moving as Shaquille O’Neal, Demi Lovato, Odell Beckham, Alicia Keys, and others reveal themselves.
Death Wish Coffee
Rather than using celebrities or athletes to push its brand, Death Wish Coffee profiled everyday people for its series “Grind It Out.” The goal was to highlight the careers and hobbies of real people who drive their business. Viewers get glimpses into the lives of a blacksmith, tattoo artist, floral designer, musician, and organic farmer, as well as others. The only thing those profiled have in common is their love of coffee.