Why a food company threw a virtual film festival

Hormel Foods released six original short films amid the pandemic.

Why a food company threw a virtual film festival

Campaign: Hormel Film Festival
Company: Hormel Foods
Agency partners: Attention Span Media (production)
Duration: May 11-15, 2020

Branded food company Hormel Foods held a virtual film festival in May to premiere six short films profiling uncommon heroes, ranging in age from 12 to 101. 


Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Hormel planned to debut each of the six films with unique, in-person events. In April, with most of the country still in lockdown, Hormel decided to pivot to a virtual film festival, in which it would debut the films.

“These stories are all part of our Inspired Fans campaign that we began several years ago,” said Wendy Watkins, VP of corporate communications at Hormel Foods. “Our hope was to lift people up and find ways to inspire during this difficult time.”


Attention Span Media created posters for each of the six shorts, which Hormel promoted through its internal channels, including a weekly newsletter.

“We really wanted it to be, first and foremost, something for the Hormel team to be able to watch and enjoy,” said Garrett Law, Attention Span Media’s chief strategy officer.

Hormel also promoted the festival on its external social media channels, sharing versions of the film posters on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Attention Span Media worked with Hormel to create a press release, which went out on May 8.  

The food brand purchased the URL www.HormelFilmFestival.com, so viewers would have an easy place to go to watch the shorts. The first film premiered live on YouTube at 12 p.m. CT on May 11, with additional films being released each day throughout the week. Each showing was followed by live discussions between the filmmakers and some of the film’s subjects. 

“Coordinating the participants was probably the hardest part,” Law said, noting that the festival connected people from across the globe.


Press outreach, which centered around the press release, resulted in a dozen earned media placements and pickups including coverage in Marketing Dive and Yahoo Finance. 

To date, the films collectively garnered more than 41,760 views, of which 7,900 took place during the live streams. The campaign also drove over 7,000 people to the Hormel website to read more about the films, where viewers spent more than three minutes, on average.  

On social media, the campaign resulted in 14,987 engagements.

“We heard so many amazing comments,” Watkins said. “Parents who watched with their children; team members who are veterans who were moved to tears...given the heartwarming, inspiring nature of the stories, the responses were similar.”

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