Brand Film Awards: How brands went Hollywood during lockdown

Brands got creative as consumers turned to ad-free streaming services.

Clockwise from top-left: Felipe Ambra, Alison Weissbrot and Priyanka Rathore.
Clockwise from top-left: Felipe Ambra, Alison Weissbrot and Priyanka Rathore.

Brands elevated their cinematic storytelling during the pandemic in an effort to grab consumers’ attention as they shifted to ad-free streaming platforms. 

On Tuesday, Campaign U.S. editor Alison Weissbrot spoke with Felipe Ambra, global VP at Corona, and Priyanka Rathore, brand communications manager at KitchenAid, during a panel at the Brand Film Awards US 2021 about the evolution of branded content.

Corona Beer entered the branded content arena in November when it launched Corona Studios, a global in-house production studio. The beer brand wanted to embrace a “publisher mindset” with its content strategy, mixing both advertising and entertainment to create projects consumers actually want to watch, said Ambra.

“At the same pace that we are advancing our advertising to be engaging to consumers, we have a parallel path so that [our] creative always zones in on developing engaging content that will deepen the meaning of Corona and increase affinity,” he explained.

Corona Beer launched its first original series, Free Range Humans, in November, which follows eight individuals who leave their white-collar jobs to embrace outdoor adventure. The six to 10 minute episodes reflect Corona’s brand ethos to pursue life outdoors. The beer brand also collaborated with content creators around the world to release a new short film every week on its social channels.

KitchenAid took its branded content directly to streaming when it released the short documentary, A Woman’s Place, in August on Hulu, in collaboration with Ventureland, Vox Creative and Digitas. The documentary examined the inequalities women face in the culinary industry. 

KitchenAid and Digitas also created the digital series, “Eat the Book,” in collaboration with Reese’s Book Club, owned by Reese Witherspoon’s media company Hello Sunshine. The series, hosted by Christina Milian, featured chefs and mixologists creating dishes or drinks inspired by a book.

“The media consumption preferences of consumers are changing so much,” said Rathore. “Our desire, from a brand perspective, is to forge deep connections with our consumers, especially in the environments that they are in. We're looking at content as fuel to drive brand growth.”

While compelling content brings eyes to the screen, how do brands tangibly measure the results of branded content?

For Ambra, it’s important to establish internal media KPIs such as average viewing time and engagement rates. KitchenAid, for its part, created custom studies to determine if its brand was more often being associated with the cause featured in A Woman’s Place.

Ambra and Rathore both agree that branded films aren’t a fad of the pandemic, and should be considered a serious contender for brand awareness in the future.

“This is a model of consistency and frequency,” said Ambra. “It cannot be a one-off, because you're educating your audience that now, you're a publisher. We need to build this credibility.”

This story first appeared on campaignlive.com. 

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