Video and TV marketing efforts have traditionally focused on narrative-driven, marketer-crafted, and heavily produced ads. Today, however, many companies are choosing instead to feature their own employees in videos.

Doing so is a great way to create a brand image of authenticity and honesty, while connecting with consumers. Companies who use this strategy can also draw upon the creative resources of their employees, which can be a surprisingly effective source of marketing inspiration.

No one knows your brand better than the people who work for your company–making employees the ultimate spokespeople for your brand. Employee-centric ad campaigns also have great advantages when it comes to recruiting new talent for your company.

Launching an employee-centric video campaign may seem daunting. However, there are several companies who have already paved the way:

WestJet’s Christmas Miracle

Shortly before Christmas 2013, airline WestJet released a video of its employees working together to make the holiday wishes of some of its customers come true. The video featured families flying at Christmas time, a WestJet Santa and various WestJet employees dashing off to shopping centers to pick up gifts for those families. The video went viral within a matter of hours, attracting media attention and earning positive PR simply because it wasn’t a direct promotion (and, in fact, WestJet recreated their success with another Christmas video this year).

Domino’s Pizza Maker Spotlight

When you’re a big, national corporation, it can be hard to achieve an image of authenticity. Using the faces of real employees in advertising campaigns can help. That’s exactly what Domino’s tried to do with the employee-based campaign “Handmade by Domino’s” earlier this year. The campaign highlighted real-life Domino’s employees, and tried to break down the stereotype of pizza makers as apathetic teenagers by showing their skills, passions, and interests outside of work. The videos included Domino’s employees who told stories about glass blowing, carpentry, painting and more.

Honorable Mention: Target’s Accidental Viral Hit

Employee videos can make great marketing campaigns – even if they aren’t intended to be. Just ask Target. A Westminster, Maryland Target employee named Scott Sims decided to give his fellow workers a very inspiring – and very theatrical – pep talk prior to the doors opening on Black Friday. One of Sims’ coworkers posted the video to YouTube, where it quickly earned more than 2 million views. And though Target’s corporate office had nothing to do with the stunt, they benefited from it anyway, releasing a statement about how the “entire Target team bring[s] the season to life.”


Using Your Employees as Video Ambassadors

If you’d like to replicate the success of companies that have used employees in videos and TV ads, you need to focus on authenticity. If your employee-based campaigns look just like any other polished ad with actors and scripts, you’re missing the point.

No matter the type of campaign you’re conducting, ask employees to speak frankly about their experiences with your company. Hold brainstorming meetings so that you can gather creative ideas and communicate your campaign’s goals. Then, allow employees to participate actively in the process of making videos and ads. Even if your video will only be seen by a few hundred prospective employees browsing YouTube, its impact on your company’s image can be significant.