How do you get an audience to watch an ad in 2016? By pretending it’s something else.
Extensions like AdBlock have changed the way that audiences interact with online content significantly. Yes, they’re helpful in a sense, but they are also to blame for filtering out commercials from users’ day to day interactions, and have created a considerably more hostile climate for companies trying to encourage people to engage with their brand. So how can they ensure that their message still resonates with audiences?
Seeing brands produce films used to be a rarity, the tried and tested nature of the ever dominant 30 second commercial made comparatively more ‘experimental’ short films an option only for the few who could afford what they saw as a ‘risk’. However, in recent years more and more brands are opting for longer formats as a means of better engaging with their audiences, who have developed a far greater appetite for online video content.
Now, arguably continuing what The Hire started way back in 2002, the likes of Prada, Johnnie Walker, Intel, and Estrella Damn are all pushing the boundaries of branded content and venturing into short films. The format is increasingly proving a win win venture for countless brands, providing them with a platform to showcase their values far more subtly.
Take ‘Lifeline’ for example, it’s a new 30-minute thriller directed by Academy Award winning screen writer, Armando Bo, about a man’s search for his missing girlfriend. But its also more than that – its an advertisement for Qualcomm, and more specifically its new Snapdragon 820 processor. According to its producers the film has attracted an incredible 20 million views worldwide and an additional 100 million combined views of the film’s trailers and the behind-the-scenes video.
The latter of the two stats is perhaps the more interesting with ‘Inside Lifeline,’ a nine-minute look at the production of the film, putting greater emphasis on the role of the cellphone itself, and the features that the film hoped to highlight, such as its long battery life and improved photo capability. It’s these accompanying behind-the-scenes that give brands the opportunity showcase produces to a greater extent (should they want to.)
Would Qualcomm have been able to gain the same level of exposure with a 30 second commercial as it did with ‘Lifeline’?
As the format becomes more popular we’re seeing even more well respected directors, screen writers and actors get involved with the creation of banded content, bringing their own distinct style and flair to the production. Many brands short films are now considering short films as cultural currency, not only are can they lay claim on influential and engaging content but also rest assured it will draw in new audiences.
Short films are giving brands a much needed edge in what is becoming an ever more crowded marketplace, and we’ll likely be seeing far more branded content taking the shape of shorts, and features in years to come.