Contently Case Story: For Shutterstock, the Key to ROI Might Just Be the ’90s

Contently Case Story: For Shutterstock, the Key to ROI Might Just Be the ’90s. To capitalize on pop culture’s fondness for our brightly colored past, Shutterstock created a content campaign dedicated exclusively to the ’90s. “Borrow-A-Home,” based on Airbnb, is modeled after a Barbie Dreamhouse commercial—complete with sparkles, an upbeat jingle, and promises of blissful domesticity. Miah and his team published ’90s-focused posts to Shutterstock’s blog to hype the content before the video release. “We’ve been creating all of this nineties-led content,” Miah said. “Our target audience—millennials—grew up with these commercials. Around this time last year, Shutterstock released a campaign inspired by the HBO series Game of Thrones. The success of the Game of Thrones campaign allowed Miah and his team to work with a larger budget for production and distribution. “With the nineties campaign, we really focused on driving targeted traffic to the content,” Miah said. “It was a strategic campaign that began as research and content production through Contently, then developed into nineties-style commercials, a partnership with Digg to create a content hub, and distribution across our owned channels.”

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A Clinton running for president. The Full House cast on TV. Millions of people catching Pokémon. Crop tops, platforms, and chokers. A headline from a BuzzFeed article sums it up well: “In Case You Haven’t Noticed, 2016 Is Basically The ’90s.”

Now, stock-imagery and video-licensing platform Shutterstock is tapping into this nostalgia. To capitalize on pop culture’s fondness for our brightly colored past, Shutterstock created a content campaign dedicated exclusively to the ’90s.

“We try to incorporate real-time events in pop-culture and the news,” explained Kashem Miah, global director of social media and content marketing at Shutterstock. “In the past, we’ve done the Olympics. We’ve done Oscars content. It made sense for us to really explore this nineties concept.”

The centerpiece for Shutterstock’s new campaign is a video with three faux ’90s commercials for contemporary businesses.

“Borrow-A-Home,” based on Airbnb, is modeled after a Barbie Dreamhouse commercial—complete with sparkles, an upbeat jingle, and promises of blissful domesticity. “SwipeMate,” the detailed dating app that resembles Tinder, is reminiscent of the Gak ads, with its fisheye lens, wacky voice-over, and bold fonts. And “Kalmbucha,” your local hipster kombucha brand, looks like an old Bubble Tape ad with hyper-stylized pop art and cartoon cutouts.

Borrow-A-Home’s commercial features a jingle about the invasiveness of occupying someone else’s home, while SwipeMate promises “super-swipes” that reveal the home address and social security number of your crush. (“Double tap your swipe mate, and our personal drone will show you what that special someone is up to right now!”)

Though the ads are a humorous way to travel back in time, the campaign’s purpose goes beyond evoking nostalgic laughs.

“There is definitely a business case that we have made for these videos and why we’re pushing them so hard,” Miah said. “We have clients who want to do exciting things with stock imagery and stock footage, so for us, the campaign is an opportunity to showcase what’s possible with…

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