Is Branded Film The Future Of Content?

Movies com­bine sto­ry­telling, engage­ment, and the time­less­ness of art. Is film a good fit for brands?

Pat Hong By Pat Hong from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Brand­ed film is a large­ly unex­plored medi­um, with “The Lego Movie” and “Somers Town” pre­sent­ing rare but notable endeav­ors. Con­sid­er­ing that film is such a pow­er­ful medi­um for sto­ry­telling, could brands be doing more with the medi­um to com­mu­ni­cate the sto­ries and val­ues of their brand to con­sumers?

As brands from con­sumer-fac­ing indus­tries all over the world look to increase the expan­sive­ness of their con­tent mar­ket­ing activ­i­ties, there comes a point where there will be more rel­e­vant con­tent avail­able than con­sumers can rea­son­ably be influ­enced by on their pur­chase jour­neys.

One huge chal­lenge for brands now is pro­duc­ing con­tent that can cut through the noise – con­tent that’s pow­er­ful, engag­ing, and per­sua­sive enough to influ­ence the per­cep­tion of a brand or prod­uct in the minds of con­sumers. The future win­ners of the con­tent mar­ket­ing game could be those brands that can cap­ture and thrill con­sumers with sto­ries that pos­sess such qual­i­ties.

[Tweet “The future will be owned by the brands who prove them­selves to be the most excep­tion­al sto­ry­tellers. {perma­link}”]

Sto­ry­telling is more than just com­mu­ni­cat­ing the crux of a brand’s val­ue propo­si­tions, it’s also com­mand­ing those mes­sages across the mul­ti­tude of chan­nels in which con­sumers expe­ri­ence media, main­tain­ing con­sis­ten­cy, and pro­vid­ing for the many needs and touch­points of a user’s brand jour­ney.

Enter Branded Film

Brand­ed film has the poten­tial to be one of the most pow­er­ful kinds of media to com­mu­ni­cate and cham­pi­on a brand’s core val­ues. With tech­nol­o­gy such as dig­i­tal dis­tri­b­u­tion and online stream­ing, the immer­sive, emo­tion­al, and inspi­ra­tional con­texts of cin­e­mat­ic sto­ry­telling can be brought to con­sumer screens with per­sua­sive and mean­ing­ful impact.

Sto­ry­telling via film offers busi­ness­es the abil­i­ty to talk about about them­selves in a way that isn’t self-indul­gent or irrev­er­ent; instead it allows for open­ing an hon­est and engag­ing con­ver­sa­tion with audi­ences on how a brand can ful­fill a gen­uine rela­tion­ship with con­sumers that com­ple­ments their lives – some­thing an adver­tise­ment, a com­mer­cial, or a mar­ket­ing cam­paign often fails to achieve.

The Success Of ‘Somer’s Town’

One notable recent exam­ple of how the medi­um can be uti­lized by a brand can be found in the Eurostar-fund­ed fea­ture length film, “Somer’s Town”.

The 2008 film had an esti­mat­ed bud­get of £500,000 and grossed £566,616 in box office earn­ings. How­ev­er, the real val­ue was achieved through the artistry and tal­ent of the pro­duc­tion.

Hav­ing a world-renowned direc­tor in Shane Mead­ows meant the film reached an inter­na­tion­al audi­ence, screen­ing at numer­ous fes­ti­vals, and win­ning the esteemed Michael Pow­ell award at the Edin­burgh Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val. Acco­lades enabled, no doubt, by grant­i­ng Mead­ows full cre­ative con­trol of the film’s sto­ry and pro­duc­tion.

What About ROI?

The suc­cess of “Somer’s Town” is clear. How­ev­er, the ques­tion-mark on the minds of mar­keters will be whether this sub­tle­ty of approach can ever ensure val­ue and return on invest­ment. Brand­ed film does­n’t push an clear adver­to­r­i­al mes­sage, nor does it offer a direct call to action that can be used as a jus­ti­fi­able met­ric.

What brand­ed film offer is authen­tic­i­ty, art, and long-term engage­ment.

Somers Town” offered a sim­ple sto­ry about an unlike­ly friend­ship between two teenage boys, a mutu­al com­ing-of-age that cul­mi­nat­ed in a trip to France. Their meet­ing and even­tu­al jour­ney is enabled by Eurostar, but the brand’s pres­ence is tact­ful­ly felt and nat­u­ral­ly placed.

The under­ly­ing mes­sage that the film pro­motes is the spir­it of con­nec­tion, con­ti­nen­tal friend­ship, and the empow­er­ing qual­i­ties of trav­el. In oth­er words, Eurostar’s brand val­ues brought to life by ele­ments of sto­ry­telling with­in the cohe­sive­ness of film.

More Successful Examples Of Branded Film

Oth­er suc­cess­ful exam­ples include “The Lego Movie”, per­haps the most notable exam­ple of a brand­ed film to date, and BMW’s “The Hire”, a series of cin­e­mat­ic shorts direct­ed by inter­na­tion­al­ly-renowned direc­tors.

Sony Eric­s­son, Schweppes, and Pra­da (see below) have also invest­ed in the brand­ed film. In each case, the brands reap the ben­e­fits of inter­na­tion­al reach, achieved through the uni­ver­sal­i­ty of sto­ry­telling and the film medi­um.

Communicating Core Brand Values

The world’s most respect­ed brands are rec­og­nized because they have ingra­ti­at­ed them­selves with uni­ver­sal val­ues that peo­ple find relat­able. Coca-Cola’s grand vision for the brand revolves around the con­cept of hap­pi­ness, and Nike’s “Just Do It” cap­tures a sense of pri­mal impulse that has come to embody their brand val­ues.

John Mont­gomery, CEO of Thresh­old Inter­ac­tive, the L.A.-based dig­i­tal agency behind the Nes­tle-spon­sored “But­terfin­ger the 13th” told Momen­tol­ogy that brand­ed film expe­ri­ences are pow­er­ful because they emo­tion­al­ly con­nect with peo­ple.

Brand­ed films have the abil­i­ty to trans­form an audi­ence unlike any oth­er audio visu­al medi­um by con­nect­ing with peo­ple for a very long time around a spe­cif­ic theme,” Mont­gomery said. “Pow­er­ful themes from film can be born from the DNA of a brand.”

Film is an incred­i­ble sto­ry­telling device that allows you to build sub­tle nuances around a theme,” he added. “Because of that, it’s a pow­er­ful tool for brands to use. Doc­u­men­tary films, in par­tic­u­lar­ly, seems like an easy fit for brands to get involved in the sto­ries that peo­ple have.”

Brands that want to com­pete for those core val­ues, and to com­mu­ni­cate emo­tion­al or inspi­ra­tional ideas, have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to instill a per­cep­tion of those val­ues in con­sumer minds through brand­ed films.

The Future of Branded Film?

The future of brand­ed film presents excit­ing, unex­plored ter­ri­to­ry, accord­ing to Mont­gomery.

There will be more brand­ed films com­ing in the future,” he said. “More brands will look to exper­i­ment and there’s going to be quite a few dif­fer­ent types of brand­ed films as the enter­tain­ment busi­ness looks to over­haul its mod­el and off­set devel­op­ment costs in cre­at­ing long-form con­tent.”

Film has the poten­tial to cap­ture the time­less ele­ments of sto­ry­telling that appeal to con­sumers on a deep­er lev­el than that of adver­to­r­i­al mes­sages. It was the late aca­d­e­m­ic Joseph Camp­bell who said “If you’re going to have a sto­ry, have a big sto­ry, or none at all.”

For the ambi­tious, brand­ed film could be the medi­um to tell those sto­ries.

What do you think of the brand­ed film oppor­tu­ni­ty?

Pat Hong

Written by Pat Hong

Editor at Linkdex/Inked, Linkdex

Pat covers the SEO industry, digital marketing trends, and anything and everything around Linkdex. He also authors Linkdex's data analysis and reports, analysing the state of search in various industries.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

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