How storytelling helps brands cut through content overload

Jessica Lauretti, global head at RYOT Studio, discusses how to make a brand film stand out

How is a brand film different than a traditional advertising campaign?

The future of advertising is in creating products, services, and experiences that make people’s lives better. In order for brands to maintain their relevance, they need to evolve how they advertise to consumers. 

But how do you tell a story of what your brand stands for without putting your logo or product all over it? It’s about deeply connecting your ethos to your audience’s through storytelling and entertainment. 

For example, Gatorade came to us last year with the tagline Win From Within, and we pitched them a short documentary film on how the sport of rugby transformed an inner city community in Memphis. The film has no traditional branding. It's a short documentary that tells a beautiful story of resilience and humanity. 

The film’s distribution also fell outside the bounds of traditional, with a launch at the Tribeca Film Festival followed by festival screenings around the globe. We were ultimately able to get the film broadcast on ESPN2 by being innovative with the format and creating a piece of authentic storytelling that resonated with their audience. The film was an official selection at Tribeca, nominated for a Webby, aired three times on ESPN2, was in Sports Illustrated, and is a Clio Sports finalist. 

Make sure your work gets the recognition it deserves. Enter your film in the 2018 Brand Film Festival today. 

Why are more brands exploring storytelling as a way to attract an audience?

Media is at a crossroads, and every brand is trying to figure out how to cut through the noise of "peak content." Storytelling is an ancient way for humans to connect over a shared experience, so it only makes sense that brands would be interested in utilizing that format. It’s essentially an evolved version of branded content that leans heavier into the entertainment and emotional storytelling space. 

What tips would you give to brands on their mission to create content?

Trust your partners. Bring in the smartest, most talented people in the space, trust them for their expertise, and then truly commit to collaboration. Research has proven time and time again that branded content is two times more memorable than display ads, so the key is having the most compelling creative talent and the means to think and work in a new way. 

How do you create artistic integrity when working with a brand?

The first step is to develop a strong working relationship built upon trust, mutual admiration, and shared values. Without that, it’s hard to be effective. If we are working on the same team and have a shared vision and goal, we can find ways to be successful. It’s about collaboration – not transaction. 

What makes a great brand film? Give some examples of films from over the years or even films you have produced.

The most important thing is to realize the dynamics of power have shifted and that it’s not about you or your brand, but about the consumer. This is done by both taking responsibility for the power that brands hold in modern society, as well as letting go of control over messaging and letting consumers interact with their brand in new and different ways. You must also utilize data and insights to develop storytelling experiences that people will love, and then meet them where they are through the distribution outlets they utilize everyday.

When you start and end with the story you want to tell, you win. Stay away from product placement, mentions of your brand, and branded messaging, and just focus on creating something that someone will enjoy.

Jessica Lauretti is the global head of RYOT Studio – Oath's award-winning, global creative studio representing AOL, Yahoo, Huff Post, and their 40 publisher brands, with teams in 14 countries on five continents. Jessica is an award-winning creative director and executive producer who has spoken at events around the world, and she serves on the advisory council of Google News Lab’s Journalism 360 Program. She has a diverse background working across art, tech, politics, and culture, and she has experience with independent, editorial, branded, and advertising content.

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