Are brand films confusing Average Joe consumers?

Brand films are still in their infancy and have yet to really be defined. Are they merely glorified commercials? Or a vehicle for a brand to get a specific message out that it wouldn't be able to in traditional advertising? The question is leaving some viewers confused.

I recently went with my mother to see a movie, and before the previews came on, a four-minute brand film was shown. As is commonly the case, the brand behind it was not mentioned until the end. During the film, I heard a number of voices around me question, "What is this?" When the brand was revealed, one guy in the back of the theater shouted, "Oh, that was dumb."

My mother also didn’t fully understand the brand film. She found it "cute," in its own right, but didn’t quite see how the content related to the brand.

Brand films are still in their infancy and have yet to really be defined. Are they merely glorified commercials? Or a vehicle for a brand to get a specific message out that it wouldn’t be able to in traditional advertising?

Sure, a glitzy movie filled with Hollywood stars and exotic locations or a fascinating storyline might evoke a raised eyebrow from some people here and there, but does the brand’s involvement even register with average Joe consumers? And if it does, will that person then go out and buy the product?

Further, how many people realistically have the time or inclination to watch a 30-minute brand film?

For the amount of effort and money brands are shelling out to produce short, or even feature-length films, the desired effect on consumers should be obvious. Oftentimes, it’s not.

For a brand film to have any significant value, it must include several factors. First, there must be a point as to why a story had to be told over the course of, say, 30 minutes, rather than via a 30-second commercial.

It also helps if the film has a viral quality to it – i.e. you know this will be shared widely. A prime example of this is the music video Morton Salt did with OK Go for the song, "The One Moment."

Most importantly, the message or call to action must be clear. Without this, a film is a waste both of a consumers’ time and a brand’s marketing budget. Sandy Hook Promise’s PSA video "Evan" did this well by cleverly showing how easy it is to miss the warning signs that someone could be planning a shooting. Starbucks is also getting its message across loud and clear with its 10-part original content series, "Upstanders," which was created to inspire Americans to engage in acts of compassion, citizenship, and civility. "

Diana Bradley is senior editor at PRWeek.

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