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Sandwich Video: The company that makes nearly all startup videos (sandwichvideo.com)
343 points by coldtea on Sept 13, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 70 comments

Smart marketing by Adam to star in most every video they make. Instantly when I see him, I know its a sandwich video. Basically they have built in branding into their product.

However, I have to admit, if I was forking out the big cash for a sandwich video for my startup (https://commando.io), I'd insist to not star Adam, because it is somewhat distracting from the message of my startup. He is basically everywhere, and it sort of gives me a strange (but negative) sensation of devaluation of the startup. Am I the only one who feels this way?

"I'd insist to not star Adam, because it is somewhat distracting from the message of my startup. He is basically everywhere, and it sort of gives me a strange (but negative) sensation of devaluation of the startup. Am I the only one who feels this way?"

That seems like a very inside baseball concern. I really doubt your typical consumer has any memory of the actors in a typical consumer web product video. I mean, going through this list, I've seen a lot of these videos over the years and didn't realize they were all made by the same people until it was pointed out here. I'd also venture to guess that he appears in a lot of them to cut the costs of the video. More people involved in making a video means higher costs.

Re: cutting costs, that's not a consideration at all. On-camera talent usually accounts for less than .5% of one of our projects' total budgets. There are probably more people involved behind the camera than you'd expect. And it can actually be quite a bit costlier to have me on camera, while I'm directing as well (and I can be a real diva).

> your typical consumer

commando.io is a server management tool. I would imagine it's fairly likely that a nontrivial percentage of their customers (developers) pay attention to startups.

> "I'd also venture to guess that he appears in a lot of them to cut the costs of the video."

I'm nearly 100% positive is it intentional that Adam stars in most of the videos, and it not due to cutting costs. It is calculated marketing and probably a requirement by Sandwich. Their clients: Ebay, Groupon, AirBnb, Square, Coin, Warby Parker, Jawbone, and Lyft can afford to pay for an actor or actress.

FWIW the Airbnb video stars a very talented Airbnb employee, Venetia Pristavec, who ran video efforts there since the early days.

This isn't the first time I've heard this. It's not common but not unique. Even a few bigger clients with more at stake in terms of brand voice have shied away from asking me to be on camera. That said, it's usually at my discretion which projects feature me and which don't. There are ones that make more sense for me to be the guy, and ones that make no sense at all, and for those projects (roughly 4 out of 5 of our videos) I'm happy to put someone more suitable in front of the camera.

Adam, thanks for the reply. Makes sense. Don't get me wrong though, my comments were not meant to be negative. I actually love the strategy, pure marketing and branding genius. Someday I hope to be in a position with Commando.io, where we can do a video with you guys.

No negativity taken.

Despite using several of the products they make videos about, I'd never seen any of their work. Even if I had, I'd be likely to go months or years before seeing another video made by them, so I probably wouldn't connect the two incidents.

I suspect the vast majority of viewers are in the same boat, especially if your product's audience isn't startups.

His videos are really awesome. That said, I must admit that when I saw Adam in the navdy video today, I was thinking, hey, Coin already delayed shipping date, why should I pre-order your new project here?

Not sure I understand. What does the actor in the commercial have to do with the product? (disclosure: Navdy investor)

Until seeing the Navdy ad, I thought that the guy in the Coin ad was the founder or something. So when I was this ad, I thought that he killed Coin and moved on to something else.

Same for me. Adam has a very tech-CEO quality about him I just assumed he was in charge of both Coin and Navdy.

For some reason when I see a startup video I associate the main "actor" as the CEO/founder vs when I see a TV commercial for some MegaCorp I instantly know they are actors.

Maybe it is just a bad stereotype I hold of beard+glasses = techie

Credibility of the person delivering the message.

Negative association arising from re-using the principal actor already associated (in the OP's mind) with a failed product?

Perhaps, something akin to actors getting typecast into certain types of roles throughout their careers (grumpy-bloke, evil-bitch, hipster-douche, vaporware-shill).

BTW, these are just examples and not a reflection on Adam Lisagor or his work!

I take your point. I try and be extremely meticulous and selective with the projects I take on. But this is the tech world, and much like an investor, I can't always know what products will survive all conditions of the market.

I do have a reputation for picking strong contenders, and that has probably been my best asset in bringing interesting new projects. If it starts to happen a lot, that my clients fail to deliver on the promises they ask me to make, then I have to adjust. But for now, my track record is pretty shiny.

Hear, hear! Splendid work so far Adam!

For the record, I've liked your work since the days of the first Square video. If I were Roger Ebert, I'd say: "Two thumbs up!".

Now, one last question, who do I write to for an autographed DVD with all your vids? (Or even some shiny autographed schwag from some of the strong contenders?).

Why, if you must ask, is because advertising is a personal interest of mine and you are creating your own new niche there.

I'd be happy to autograph your browser.

Next time I'm visiting the West coast, I'll take you up on that offer!

When I viewed the vids on the page, my first thought was...

* - wait, isn't that the guy from that 1-in-all credit card startup that got featured on HN about 6 months back? ...I thought he was an employee or owner of that biz. - *

I couldn't remember the startup's name, but I sure did recognize the guy's face. And associated the startup's brand with something that is being used on many other projects.

But then again, 99.95% of the people that view these vids might not be in the HN or startup space.

Same thought here :) The name was Coin: https://onlycoin.com

Even if he wasn't in the video, those ads have such a distinctive visual style, low-key dry humour - its either a Sandwich Video or an homage.

Your best approach is to go in an entirely different direction.

I'm not sure what I did to luck into my company being on HN today (thanks, coldtea), but if anyone has any questions about Sandwich, I'm here for you.

Ballpark pricing and schedules. I don't need a video right now, but knowing budgetary figures lets me know when a video is even a viable option for something.

> Ballpark pricing and schedules.

They explain both on their How It Works page: http://sandwichvideo.com/how-it-works/

They give $, $$, and $$$, but that doenst help me know whether or not I can afford them at all. Do they consider 500$ one dollar or 5000$?

Those rough categories adjust as the market for good video adjusts. Currently, $ is about $50K, $$ is $75-150K. $$$ is anywhere above that—we've done broadcast work in the high six-figures range.

That said, when a project with a small startup without much capital is interesting enough (read: first of its kind, first to market, best in class), there are other arrangements to be made. We figure out some sort of equity and/or revenue share with more than half of our clients, where it makes sense to forego some of our markup and other fees in exchange for opportunity to participate in the future success of a product.

Ah! Those are absolutely reasonable, and now I can see why everyone uses you.

>I'm not sure what I did to luck into my company being on HN today (thanks, coldtea)

Heh, I first become aware of Sandwich with the Navdy posting yesterday, I wasn't even aware of the other videos.

My initial reaction from the Navdy thing was, hmm, this is a very likable talent they have there, they guy is impossible to hate (unlike say, Justin Long), and (script aside) very good and casual in explaining this thing.

So, then I checked the company who made the video, and I was surprised seeing you're also the director, plus, you're in tons of other startup videos you've made. So, I found that cool and amusing, hence the post.

Navdy hit the front page, so people were talking about the video, and here you are.

My startup (www.dronehire.org) connects commercial drone operators with clients for aerial photography, real estate photography, precision agriculture, surveying, mapping etc.

Do you think you could create a video that would help us do that?

Good work but it can't compete with the best video ad ever made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUG9qYTJMsI

By the way, we also made a "behind the scene" interview about this video: http://startup-videos.com/blog/behind-the-scenes-of-the-doll...

I've seen a bunch of youtubers I watch - most prominently Linus Tech Tips - advertise these guys, but I never knew they had a viral video.

I thought you were being sarcastic. That thing was pure gold.

Absolutely brilliant!

Imma let you finish

Adam and Sandwich video are pretty much the reference in the "startup videos" industry, specially for "live action" videos. They have such a distinctive style and premium quality standard attached to each of their videos. Even though they have a very specific style, they always try to stay innovative and craft original concepts, which is very inspiring. We made a "behind the scene" interview with Adam a little while back when Sandwich really started to get popular http://startup-videos.com/blog/startup-videos-interview-sand... definitely worth a read if you want to learn more about his process.

That being said, there's a lot of other very innovating and smart videos made by other studios/startups, and if you're curious about them, a good place to check out is http://startup-videos.com (disclaimer: I'm one of the cofounder of the site).

We used Video Brewery (http://www.videobrewery.com) to find an independent animator for our startup (https://www.konduto.com). We found an excellent animator and contracted the voice-overs from Voices.com. The result was great and much cheaper than the companies we quoted.

We love Sandwich video. We at Veed.me (http://www.veed.me) help startups with low budgets as well - get an affordable and awesome videos. For a budget between 3k-10k we had great companies like Waze, Jawbone, Check, WeChat and many SMB's getting their great video.

Also - it's free to list a project.

Sandwich video are f* awesome, but not every startup can get a video there.

I think my favorite is the Aeropress "ritual" video. http://vimeo.com/40980282

Interesting. I find that one over-produced. Especially the middle part where the camera keeps changing from a vote of the spout to a vote of the guy's shirt. And while it's superficial as he'll of me to say, he doesn't have the most attractive fingers, which puts me off a bit.

Over-produced? - Have you watched a TV ad?

It was short and simple shots of making coffee. There is no narration, hardly any music. Subtle stuff.

Over-produced is an interesting take on the only “spec” commercial I've ever made simply because I love the product. It cost me about $300, full disclosure. Meaning it's actually the most under-produced of our videos.

Well whatever you did. It works. I must have an aeropress now.

Their videos are incredibly well done, highly polished and very descriptive. I suspect they cost a lot, but they always do a great job of explaining exactly what they do. Perhaps my favorite one is the latest by Slack where it's pretty much their office saying how Slack changed the way they work https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6zVzWU95Sw

Their videos are indeed excellently made, very slick, very polished.

However, I'm not sure this style really works well with all their clients. I watched a bunch of their example videos, and in some cases where the startup's fundamental concept is... welll.... kind of weak, the combination of a super slick video with a dumb startup idea tends to make the latter's flaws reallly stick out. It ends up seeming as if the video is mocking the startup rather than trying to sell it....

It's an interesting point you make! I'm curious, can you point to any specifically where you feel the video has had this effect?

So how much do they cost? Ballpark figure. $3k? $10k?

I remember watching an interview a while back (or I think it was a Quora thread), but he claims most startup videos fall in the $50-$75k range.

probably closer to $50k

Yeah. Considering locations, traveling, hours of preparation and editing, $50k - $75k is reasonable if you want beautiful ad.

definitely this. Can get more expensive quick too, especially if a video requires multiple locations, multiple actors, multiple actors speaking, etc etc.

Also I can't remember if Adam does this, but most the industry will have different price tiers based on what you want to do with it. Running something on your homepage is a whole different ballgame compared to homepage + TV ads.

You can still make a decent job with much less than that, by using semi-pro actors, directors and editors.

We made a video with €3.5k, by contacting a local theater / cinema center, and got overwhelming positive feedbacks with the result. In retrospect, we are very happy with the quality/cost ratio.

I'm linking it here so that people can judge the difference in quality (which is visibile, but worth 10x the cost?): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODFHTN45vmo

Nice story, funny and cute acting, but definitely lower quality in a lot of production areas, which is what 10x ensures you get.

Two things that struck me were the lighting (amateurish) and the DOF (or abundance of it).

Yup, I mainly wanted to stress that there options for non-funded startups with little budget. We got lots of positive feedback on the video and I'm sure it did its job of explaining the app to the viewers.

You did well. Sandwich video is just for a different market (VC funded start-ups mainly it appears).

Huh. I remember robinhood. I signed up for that a year ago and I'm still #183,851 in line. Cruise'n right through that wait list.

Aside from the main guy being in all the videos, I thought their website was incredibly well written and provided a great explanation of their services. Refreshing as far as professional services websites go.

I'd be interested to find out if Sandwich are sufficiently confident to offer contracts based on some measurable outcome metric. Such a "no risk" contingency would be valuable for very small business owners, beyond the likely budget of a normal up-front approach.

Difficult, and probably not that well advised, but..

I had never heard of this startup before https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3c6QdNhy1Aw&feature=youtu.be , really cool.

I find that a lot of Canadian startups (specifically those in Kitchener-Waterloo) use Arc Media: http://www.arc-media.ca/

This is interesting because I was wondering why so many of these startup videos seemed so similar (not in a good way, IMHO, but that's just my personal tastes and preferences).

If you use sandwich, it seems like your video becomes a sandwich branded video rather than your own branded product video, as Adam and his team star in every video. So, even though the videos produced are catchy, I believe, as a founder (http://www.dialmedirect.com) you need to figure out ways to brand your product, so that it's stands out from the crowd and at the same time expresses your value, vision and mission.

Actors are to be forgotten, but the message isn't.

Sure the 1-in-all credit card is so funny and powerful that I can remember the story and what the actor (Adam) kinda look like. That's because the actual selling product resonate with the viewers and the ad itself is both dramatically and realistic.

You probably can arrange your contract with Adam such that you can be the voice while his team does all the acting. Think of Apple's videos, usually Jon Ive is the one talking (probably due to his English accent) and his appearance only last 1-2 seconds in the video.

Ah I see, it looks like there are different ways you can bring out the brand messaging, so long as you have the right people doing it in front. There are tones of founders out there that don't have much charisma, so I guess using Adam would work, and for those that have charisma, they can probably use themselves and have Adam and his team in the background... Whatever works for the teams involved.

What a fun and addictive web-site (actually the videos). Bravo!

Look up Bokeh Inc. (Seebokeh.com) They have a strong list of company's whom they have worked with and tend to understand start-ups extremely well (as they are a start-up themselves).

Look up a company called Bokeh Inc. (Seebokeh.com) They have a great website, and a pretty impressive list of clients considering they are a start-up themselves. They have also worked with Y-Combinators before like Watsi and Caviar.

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