National Geographic turns to video to tout green Web site

National Geographic is one of the world's most venerable and respected brands in its field.

National Geographic is one of the world's most venerable and respected brands in its field.

To better capitalize on the current thirst for environmental news, the company wanted help driving traffic to the new green-targeted section of its Web site,, and reminding a younger audience of the title's longtime commitment to covering such issues.

Idea: ID decided to create a viral video to promote the site, drawing on the extensive video and photo resources of NG, as well as its own good reputation. "We had a limited budget, but we had a lot of assets at our disposal," says John Koch, ID's director of communication in Los Angeles. "There are a lot of celebrities interested in the green message." The agency secured Natalie Portman, Kyra Sedgwick, and Chloe Sevigny to star in the video, and a song from Aimee Mann for its soundtrack. The video itself is a stylish plea for consumers to use energy-saving light bulbs, with only a short plug for National Geographic and its Web site at the end.

Tools: National Geographic videos usually do well on YouTube (where it has its own channel), so the company handled the distribution. "The celebrity hook was something new for them," Koch points out. "The video ended up being one of the top five videos they have." As the video became more popular among viewers, it spread virally, taking the company's green message along with it.

Measurement: The video has already gotten more than 550,000 views between YouTube, iTunes, MSN, and It has also helped lead to a "huge" increase in traffic to the green site, while boosting interest in the site among advertisers.

Company: National Geographic
Campaign: Virally promoting National Geographic's "green" Web site
PR team: ID (New York) and National Geographic
Launch: August 16
Budget: Under $30,000 (for video production)

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