Brand Film Awards US 2020: The Winners

The complete list of winners and honorable mentions from the 2020 Brand Film Awards US.

Adobe's In The Time It Takes To Get There won Brand Film of the Year at the 2020 awards.
Adobe's In The Time It Takes To Get There won Brand Film of the Year at the 2020 awards.

The fifth year of the Brand Film Awards U.S., a partnership between PRWeek and Campaign, produced a slate of winners that spoke to the continued evolution of film in constructing brand narratives.

Each year the quality of filmmaking and storytelling reaches another level and brand film has come a long way since its early days when many activations were little more than long advertisements or product placement vehicles.

Following are the Brand Film Awards winners and honorable mention case studies that represent best practice in brand storytelling via film.


Brand Film of the Year:

In The Time It Takes To Get There
Adobe and Pereira O'Dell with RSA Films and Edelman

An awesome, well produced, fantastic bit of choreography, this comedic film directed by Scrubs actor Zach Braff pokes fun at the life of an influencer. Viewers spend a day with Lucy (played by Braff's real-life girlfriend and Black Widow star Florence Pugh), a "social media influencer" in the 1800s, as she navigates her privilege and luxury, in a life that is ultimately empty and meaningless. The project was part of a contest from Adobe that asked college students to design a movie poster — the winning one would be turned into a film. From over 1,000 contenders, Sam West, a student from Boston University, was picked as the winner. She was then flown to LA to watch her poster being turned into a Hollywood movie.


Animation

Winner:

Wonderful Tools
Apple and Buck with TBWA\Media Arts Lab

Wonderful Tools is a celebration of the minimalist design aesthetic that made Apple famous. From the controls of the original iPod, to the organic pulse of the Siri app, the design of each product is communicated through clean lines and color accents that transition seamlessly from one to the next all to the sound of a melodic synth beat.

Honorable Mention:

The History of "La Cerveza Más Fina"
Corona Mexico and Observatory with Nexus Studios

Gael García Bernal guides viewers on an epic, stop-motion journey through the rich story of Mexico and Corona. One of the most successful campaigns in the brand's 100-year history.

Watch the film here.


Automotive/Transportation

Winner:

Small Car, Big Dreams: Restoring Serial One, the First Honda Car in the U.S.
American Honda Motor Co. and RPA with Bo's House of Visual Arts, RPA Advertising

When a Serial One Honda, the first Honda automobile ever imported into the U.S., was found in a pile of junk there was only one man who could bring it back to life: Honda authority, Tim Mings. The film follows Mings for 12 months, racing to restore the car back to its original production standards before the Japanese Classic Car show; every step shared across social, forming a mini docu-series. On Honda’s 60th anniversary of arriving in the U.S., a long-form film launched on YouTube, revealing the automaker’s humble beginnings and the impact the brand had on Mings’ life.

Honorable Mention:

Airstream — The Around The World Caravan
Airstream and The Public Works with See Spark Go

A documentary recollected by the family, and interspersed with amazing archival footage, of McGregor Smith Jr., who took his family on a round-the-world trip in an Airstream from 1963 to 1964.

Watch the film here.


B2B

Winner:

Code & Response
IBM Originals with Media Monks, 8Bar and Passion Point Collective

Together with the David Clark Cause, United Nations and the American Red Cross, Media Monks, 8Bar and Passion Point Collective created Call for Code — a global challenge that asked coders aged 18-34 to build solutions for responding to natural disasters. Celebrating their story through a documentary that showed what ingenuity, compassion and motivation to help communities and the world looks like, was a breakthrough way to inspire more engagement and involvement from developers, employees, students, volunteers and partners.

Honorable Mention:

Achieving what is Humanly Possible: Ashley Kimbel
Siemens USA with SuperFilms! and Ogilvy

High school senior Ashley Kimbel proved the digital revolution is human in a film showing her using Siemens Solid Edge software to build a prosthetic limb for a U.S. Marine veteran who lost his leg in Afghanistan.

Watch the film here.


Creative Agency

Winner:

GCI Health

The specialist health agency showed its chops via a campaign for pharmaceutical company Merck about type 2 diabetes that improved access to high-quality care, made transformational changes in disease management and reduced health disparities in underserved communities. The resulting documentary, A Touch of Sugar, follows people affected by the condition, including interviews with physicians and advocacy experts. It is narrated by actress Viola Davis. Traffic to AmericasDiabetesChallenge.com increased 14,000% in the two weeks following the documentary’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. But, most importantly, it inspired advocates to act at the federal, state and local levels to improve access to care, address the social determinants of health and rally support for people with diabetes.


Documentary

Winner:

Pedaling for Peace
Google and Google Brand Studio with Lonelyleap

Search On is an episodic storytelling series that celebrates the ways people are solving problems with the help of Google technology. In March 2019, "Pedaling for Peace," the ninth episode in the series, showed the world how, with only a tent, a bicycle and a phone equipped with Google Translate, Dnyaneshwar Yewatkar circled the planet to spread Gandhi’s message of love and peace. The film was shot over the course of a year in four countries, in observational verité style. When it launched live on YouTube, the film was paired with an online editorial hosted on Google’s “about” platform that catalogued the critical role Google Translate played in helping Dnyan connect with other people.

Honorable Mention:

History of Memory
HP with Redglass Pictures and Passion Point Collective

From Florida to India, Beijing to New Orleans, HP explored true stories of people whose lives were forever altered by the discovery, creation or preservation of a photograph.

Watch the film here.


Emerging Talent

Honorable Mention:

Western Reserve Academy Student Actors, Writers, Directors & Production Assistants

A collaboration with students, filmmakers, screenwriters and producers resulted in six short films that act as authentic points of connection for kids considering attending boarding school.


Emotional

Winner:

History of Memory
HP with Redglass Pictures and Passion Point Collective

The History of Memory is a series of short documentary films created by RedGlass Pictures and the Garage by HP, which celebrates the power of printed photographs to change lives. As the world, and especially photography, has moved to digital, HP’s business imperative was to drive print relevance and showcase the power of print. The central question in each of the films asks, “Can one photo change your life forever?” Each time, it is answered by an emotional “Yes.” Each chapter of History of Memory reminds viewers that the most important memories are those which we cherish, share, and protect.

Honorable Mention:

Make Room
Netflix and Red & Co. with The Corner Shop

Netflix's Uzo Aduba stands in a dim hallway lined with closed doors and asks viewers to imagine being marginalized, then walks through the different Netflix show "rooms" — an inclusive world in which new voices and stories are possible.

Watch the film here.


Employee Engagement

Winner:

Moguls in the Making
Ally with SoulPancake, Anomaly, MediaCom and Prosek

Moguls in the Making follows fifty students from 10 schools competing in a Shark Tank-like contest. Each participant created a business plan to solve an economic issue facing Detroit, then pitched their ideas to a panel of judges that included “Big Sean” Anderson, VCs and business leaders. The project’s mission was to empower young black entrepreneurs to realize their potential, and show that diversity and inclusion comes down to doing the right thing for our business, communities and country. In the end, each student as awarded an internship with Ally, a life-long mentor and access to a powerful network of senior leadership. Ally hopes this movement will help others realize economic mobility requires not just financial donations, but also an intersection of public and private partnerships, collaboration and hands-on programs that reach out directly to young adults.

Honorable Mention:

(Not) Another Sizzle Reel
Atlantic Re:think

The folks at The Atlantic asked themselves: Is it time to retire the sizzle reel? Agency and production pros give humorous answers regarding the love/hate relationship with the sizzle.

Watch the film here.


Financial Services

Winner:

May Day
Charles Schwab with Breakwater Studios and UM

Chuck Schwab tells the story of his financial services company, providing a firsthand account about what makes it so special, and why it continues to be an agent of change nearly 50 years after its founding. The film was produced to help promote Schwab’s new book, Invested, and to demonstrate the brand values of the company. The story was amplified through a multiplatform distribution strategy that included media partnerships with The New York Times, Inc., Hulu and The Wall Street Journal, and was also promoted with assets optimized for LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. This was part of a larger campaign that activated employees and customers across Schwab-owned channels.

Honorable Mention:

Investing in Greater Possibilities Together
Invesco QQQ and Courageous Studios with GRP Media

A video series that tells the stories of young, daring entrepreneurs who made a leap of faith to achieve “greater possibilities together” with investment management company Invesco.

Watch the films here, here and here.


In-House Team

Winner:

Google Brand Studio

Google Brand Studio’s shining achievement is Search On, an episodic documentary series that celebrates the amazing ways people solve problems with the help of Google technology. Each episode shines a light on ordinary people, with extraordinary visions, who aren’t satisfied with the status quo, and sets out on a quest in search of better answers. Each story is paired with interactive, online articles that further explore the protagonists’ interactions with technology. While some Search On stories engage multiple production partners, Google Brand Studios produces many that rely completely on its small but nimble in-house team that writes, shoots, animates and manages postproduction and editing on its own.

Honorable Mention:

BAE Systems

Through creative imagery and narrative-driven content, BAE’s in-house team showed it existed as one branded house, harnessing innovation and technological excellence. Its videos highlight the creative team’s ability to reinvent the company’s image as a unified, global innovator.

Watch the film here.


Integration

Winner:

Music Genesis
Visit Seattle and PB& with Unheard/Of

In a world in which 1 out of 10 Americans traveled for music last year, PB& with Unheard/Of saw the opportunity to share a deeper story of Seattle’s musical legacy. Each episode of Music Genesis explores the origins of some of the most popular songs in pop culture — backstory, creation, lyrics and the role Seattle played in it all. Launched at a live event at SXSW with Rolling Stone magazine, each film was promoted, shared and distributed digitally, engaging music lovers and travelers alike. With over 10 million views, this series reconnected potential visitors with the energy of Seattle's music scene.


Interactive

Winner:

Google Year in Search 2019
Google and Google Brand Studio

The 2019 Google Year in Search film celebrates both the well-known and everyday heroes the world searched for in 2019. While not an interactive film in the traditional sense, its content and character was crowdsourced from the collective efforts of the world's annual searches. In this sense, the project’s DNA was built upon the interactive nature of how humans search. The film was launched alongside an immersive interactive experience on about.google, which humanized the data behind the film and included specially designed title cards that allowed users to click into key moments, and dive deeper into the data.


Not-for-profit/Government

Winner:

Love Always Prevails
Operation Smile with CliffCo

Love Always Prevails proves there is nothing more powerful than a mother’s love for her child. Ramata is a bright-eyed young girl who was born with a cleft lip and palate that subjected her to cruel treatment from peers and significant health concerns. Five times, her mother Mariana raised enough money for the bus fare to take her to town in search of surgical options. Each time, doctors turned them away. When Mariana meets a nonmedical volunteer from Operation Smile conducting an awareness campaign in her community, her life changes forever.

Honorable Mention:

LAPL x Gajin Fujita
Los Angeles Public Library

Celebrated artist Gajin Fujita takes viewers into his studio to discuss the role the public library played for him in life and art.

Watch the film here.


Sport

Winner:

Sparkling
Navarro Correas and Ponce with Argentinacine

Sparkling is a mockumentary that tells the story of a bon vivant horse named Espumante, Spanish for “sparkling.” In the fancy world of polo, horses do all the hard work. Riders, however, get all the fame and glory. Espumante though, was so gifted that he stole the spotlight from the day he was born, until his farewell match, when he was finally free to enjoy his true passion: having fun. First released as a teaser and eventually as a trailer inviting everyone to have a good time, momentum for the official premiere of the short film was built up, until it premiered on the opening day of the Palermo Polo Open.

Honorable Mention:

Cheers to 100
Bud Light/Kansas City Chiefs and 160over90

This human interest story shows Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL and Bud Light making dreams come true for Melba Mills — a 100-year old woman from Bonner Springs, Kansas.

Watch the film here.


Travel/Leisure

Winner:

The Offline Playlist
New Orleans Tourism and 360i with 11 Days

New Orleans is the most musically diverse city in the world. From jazz to brass, hip hop to gospel, indie to funk, nowhere sounds quite like it. New Orleans Tourism set out to prove it by partnering with Spotify and creating a playlist that reflected the sounds of the city as defined by years of listener habits. The playlist was performed live during a star-studded concert at the iconic Preservation Hall, which was then turned into a live album, spawning multiple sponsored Spotify playlists, broadcast commercials, social and influencer content, and a full-length documentary.

Honorable Mention:

Family Style
Visit Seattle and PB& with Vice Media

Family Style shares the stories of immigrant chefs navigating tradition, family business, and the future of food in Seattle.

Watch the film here.


Viral

Honorable Mention:

Senior City Girls Twerk
Capitol Music Group

To support the City Girls’ campaign for Twerk ft. Cardi B, Capitol Music Group’s internal content marketing team invited a group of unsuspecting senior citizens for a dance class. A twerking dance class.


Cinematography

Winner:

In The Time It Takes To Get There
Adobe and Pereira O'Dell with RSA Films and Edelman

Beautifully shot, with high production values, In the Time It Takes to Get There follows a day in the life of Lucy (played by Florence Pugh), a "social media influencer" in the 1800s. Drawing inspiration from the opulence of the era, the dynamics of the mannerisms, and the tableau-like images of royalty, the cinematography uses rich, golden hues to show off unnamed country-sides and soft focus, dewy close-ups for its protagonists. This comedic tale of a young girl of privilege and luxury struggling with a life that is empty and meaningless, is told through witty dialogue, overdramatic period music, and sumptuous visual cues.

Honorable Mention:

An Avant Story
Audi of America with Tilt Creative + Production

An Avant Story follows an Audi-lover's obsession with the brand from childhood through fatherhood with his defining life moments intertwined with notable Audi wagons.

Watch the film here.


Comedy

Winner:

Who?
Fox Networks Group Latin America and Ponce

Fox sets a simple goal: to make a campaign that felt more like entertainment than advertising. Who? is a short film that tells the story of a hit man whose victim is the actor Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead. In order to get the job done, the hit man studies his target by watching every season of the show on Fox. The brilliance of this project lies in the strategy of treating people like viewers rather than consumers, and offering them content in which the Fox Premium platform is part of the plot.

Honorable Mention:

Pet Friendly
VCA Animal Hospitals and Observatory with Caviar Content and Exverus

An episodic, short-form series that explores the relationship between people and their pets as seen through the eyes of veterinarian Dr. Sally.

Watch the film here.


Consumer Goods

Winner:

The History of "La Cerveza Más Fina"
Corona Mexico and Observatory with Nexus Studios

Gael García Bernal takes viewers on an epic, stop-motion journey in the artistic style of Mexican surrealist artist Pedro Friedeberg. The rich history between Corona and Mexico is traced through four distinct eras in this stylish and subtle yet impactful visual feature. About 100 years of history is packed into a 60-second animated mural that moves constantly — from post-revolutionary Mexico, to the first golden age of Mexican cinema, to the 80's economic crisis, to a journey around the world and back.

Honorable Mention:

Torrid Stories
Torrid Stories with Bullit

A series of stylized films starring Barbie Ferreira as the life of the party and spreader of good vibes, even when she finds herself in a predicament.

Watch the films here, here and here.


Directing

Winner:

Momentum Shift
Orangetheory Fitness and Ketchum Sports & Entertainment with Culture.house

Fitness franchise Orangetheory launched its first national brand campaign, More Life, with its founder’s story. Founder Ellen Latham was a 54-year-old single mom who lost her job and didn’t know how she would pay the bills. Shifting her perspective, she dug into her strength as a fitness instructor and created an in-home training program. Orangetheory Fitness, which started in a spare bedroom, now has nearly one million members around the globe. This campaign showed a true commitment to storytelling, engaging viewers by getting personal. Good use of music, strong casting and an obvious rapport between director and subject.

Honorable Mention:

An Avant Story
Audi of America with Tilt Creative + Production

A celebration of devotion that explores Audi’s different eras, with solid performances, good cinematography, and exciting filmmaking skills and visuals.

Watch the film here.


Editing

Winner:

Pedaling for Peace
Google and Google Brand Studio with Lonelyleap

Search On is an episodic storytelling series that celebrates the ways people are solving problems with the help of Google technology. In March of 2019, Pedaling for Peace, the ninth episode in the series, followed Dnyaneshwar Yewatkar as he circled the planet with only a tent, a bicycle, and Google Translate. The film was shot over the course of a year, in four countries — India, South Korea, the United States, and Cuba — in true observational verité style. The editing took its cue from this design, making the viewer feel they’re on the journey too, sharing intimate moments and spreading joy, all with a subtle integration of the product.

Honorable Mention:

I Went There, series
Mitsubishi and Atlas Obscura with OMD

A branded content series that alternates breathtaking shots of off-the-beaten path destinations with footage of adventurers driving the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.

Watch the film here.


Healthcare

Winner:

That's Not Your Story
Mederi Foundation and Jared Cruce Studio with Earth Experience

The powerful film, That's Not Your Story, follows a 37-year-old mother of three diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, who, when told she has one month to a year to live, says, "That's not my story." Created to raise awareness and enhance brand perception of Mederi Center’s alternative treatments, the film illustrates the inadequacies of our healthcare system and shows an alternative path with a proven and profound potential for healing cancer. This is a story of surviving the impossible that gives cancer patients a whole new way to live with cancer; not die from it.

Honorable Mention:

Survivorship Today: What It’s Like to Live with Cancer
Bristol Myers Squibb and GCI Health with Yard Dog and Havas Media

This integrated program features individuals affected by cancer across the country, drawing attention to survivorship and galvanizing us to help those with cancer not only survive, but thrive.

Watch the film here.


Music/Entertainment

Winner:

Who?
Fox Networks Group Latin America and Ponce

The goal was to make a campaign that felt more like entertainment than advertising. The result was a short film that treated people as viewers rather than consumers, and felt like one of “those things you shouldn’t miss.” Who? tells the story of a hit man whose victim is the actor Norman Reedus on The Walking Dead. In order to learn about his target, the hit man watches every season of the show on Fox. By leveraging the FOMO trend, Fox made a campaign so popular it is ranked in the top five movies in the app in Latin America.

Honorable Mention:

Raja Kumari: So Far | A Short Film by Sony
Sony with Joe Greco Productions and Universal McCann

Sony kicked off a series celebrating the spirit of creators that captures the highs and lows of the creative process and how it shapes the artist and art itself.

Watch the film here.


Screenplay

Winner:

Who?
Fox Networks Group Latin America and Ponce

The goal of Who? was to increase awareness of the Fox Network Group, Latin America, and its new platform Fox Premium. The short film tells the story of a hit man whose victim is the actor Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead. In order to get the job done, the hit man studies his target by watching every season of the show on Fox. The comedic/dramatic script is the real star of the film, a Cohen Brothers aesthetic that lets moments linger and thoughts drift. There’s a palpable sense of dread running throughout, supported by an excellent cast, great music and gorgeous cinematography.

Honorable Mention:

In The Time It Takes To Get There
Adobe and Pereira O'Dell with RSA Films and Edelman

An excellent example of taking a brand integration and doing something totally unique, accompanied by a clever script and top-tier cast.

Watch the film here.

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