LOS ANGELES: Property, liability, and casualty insurance company Fireman's Fund Insurance has entered the realm of documentary filmmaking in an effort to broaden awareness of both its brand and social mission.
Produced with the assistance of AOR Ketchum West and its sibling Ketchum Entertainment Marketing division, Into the Fire is a full-length documentary written and directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Bill Couturié.
The film, which had its big-screen premiere last week in LA, features interviews with firefighters from around the country talking about what motivates them to keep their communities safe. It's scheduled to make its TV debut on The History Channel on Friday.
"Fireman's Fund started about three years ago to focus its marketing efforts on philanthropy" and help current and potential policy holders form emotional connections with the brand, said Melissa Kinch, Ketchum West's LA-based SVP and Fireman's Fund account director.
The Novato, CA-based insurer wanted to integrate the concept of "giving back" into its business model, Kinch said. After much discussion, it became clear that to inspire firefighters "to speak in their own words... to draw out very real stories," a documentary would be the ideal vehicle.
Ketchum undertook grassroots efforts within the firefighting community, showing early versions of the film to national fire organizations and at industry trade shows.
"We knew that the film would fail if it wasn't embraced by the fire service itself," Kinch noted.
Outreach will continue with regional fire-services screenings and screenings in areas where Fireman's Fund has a large employee and agent base, Kinch said. The showings are also meant to raise money for fire service groups.
Further PR efforts, Kinch noted, include media relations, an e-postcard program, and a History Channel microsite. A second campaign phase, now in development, will revolve around the DVD release, set for spring 2007.
Kinch said Fireman's Fund worked closely with Ketchum Entertainment Marketing to forge the History Channel partnership, among other components. Its viewer base, she said, is "a great fit" in terms of policy holders and firefighter demographics.