Companies still unsure about the concept of brand films

Panelists at the Brand Film Festival New York on Thursday discussed the challenges behind brand films.

(L-R) Kirstin Falk, Erin Heyns-Stern, Chris Uettwiller
(L-R) Kirstin Falk, Erin Heyns-Stern, Chris Uettwiller

NEW YORK: While acceptance of brand films as a marketing strategy has grown, it’s still difficult to convince companies to invest in the concept and give creatives the space they need, said panelists at the PRWeek and Campaign U.S. Brand Film Festival New York on Thursday.

"That’s the battle I fight with every [film] I produce," said panelist Kirstin Falk, MD of brand storytelling and innovation for Charles Schwab.

Another panelist, Erin Heyns-Stern, senior brand director and head of Observatory Marketing’s New York office, said it’s important to resist pressure from the client and even colleagues to turn a brand film into an oversized television commercial.

"For us it’s the willingness to step away from the ad," she said. "And then it’s also explaining the balance between using and working with real creatives and knowing once you do, and step into that world, you have to release. That’s the hardest part of working with clients."

One reason companies may have trouble with branded film is the dearth of metrics, although there is some proof of its effectiveness, said Stacey Brickman, VP of marketing at Sony Corporation of America.

"When we do brand marketing at the same time as our business unit is marketing a product or service, we see there is a lift in sales if it’s the same time the brand ad is being marketed," Brickman said.

However, it’s important to remember that branded film belongs to a different branch of economics, said Ben Proudfoot, CEO of Breakwater Studios.

"There’s marketing, and that’s where we want you to buy this specific thing; and then there’s branding, being, ‘This is who we are, this is what we celebrate,’" said Proudfoot. "Marketing being a withdrawal from your account with the customer and branding being a deposit."

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