The Outdoor Life & Long-Form Content Marketing

Why aren’t we camping right now?


by Dave Robson

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This is a twenty-five minute video that’s just a guy named Steve Despain filming little parts of his camping trip in Boulder Mountain, Utah. He hikes, he backpacks, he cooks, he catches fish—it looks like a great time. Over 300,000 people have watched it. It’s weirdly contemplative. One YouTuber calls Steve the “Bob Ross of wilderness backpacking”.

And, of course, this video is content marketing. Which you already know since we’re talking about it.

Steve owns Firebox, a company that makes a range of camping stove and other gear, with an emphasis on ultralight stuff. This is something he fully discloses and most of the other videos on his channel are typical of the product demonstration stuff you’d find other cooking equipment companies doing. But, from time to time, Steve does these cool long-form videos. Unlike the manic product pitching infomercials of yesteryear, Steve films his whole trip and just calmly uses his stove when he needs it. You see the product in action, but you also see hiking, fishing, and other fun stuff. Those old pitchmen were always closing. Steve isn’t closing. He’s barely even pitching.

There are a few specific elements worth pointing out. One: context. A typical product demonstration video shows the product outside its context. The context for a camping stove is a camping trip. So, at some point, Steve presumably asked: why not show a whole camping trip?

Two: lifestyle. Brand marketing is frequently concerned about fitting a particular product into a particular lifestyle. In this video, Steve shows us how his product fits into his lifestyle—literally. He probably didn’t crack open his lifestyle branding handbook, identify five storytelling keywords, and then strive to create a unique experience. Steve makes a product that fits into his lifestyle and showed that in his video. End of story.

Three: polish, or lack thereof. We aren’t saying this is a badly made video or anything. It’s great. But it’s also worth pointing out that it isn’t overproduced. It’s just Steve and his camera. Sometimes he fumbles around a bit. Or his dialogue isn’t ultra crisp. Or the cooking looks a bit awkward. But these are all points in his favour. If you’re looking to buy one of his stoves or his other cooking gear, it looks like you just got an honest demonstration.

A lot of the common digital wisdom out there suggests that short video content is the way to go. We’ve been guilty of that line of thinking. But, in certain circumstances, longer is better. When Jerry Seinfeld was developing Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, experts, including those from Facebook, YouTube, and Yahoo, told him anything over five minutes wasn’t likely to succeed. Obviously they were wrong, given that Jerry Seinfeld gets audiences.

Our point is this: it’s worth experimenting with longer video content marketing. YouTube hosts videos that are two minutes long right next to ones that are forty-five minutes. So why not give it a shot?