Last year I was playing with some ideas of raising finance for a film entirely from a corporate entity. I know there are a couple of folks out there going out and pitching this idea and looking for it to stick - it makes sense. If a brand buys in it becomes an extension of the branded line of goods. You may sell chips but now you are reaching an audience that previously hasn’t paid attention to your brand. Making a film for example puts your brand in the living room of the consumer for years to come. If the film story is good your “brand narrative” has just grown and in a world where words like multi-platform are turning geeks into millionaires why not go there. This beats online ARG anytime, its real life brand integration.

As film makers or content producers what are we doing to maximize our talent and ability to create content for brands. What are our options to create branded content. Is it (dare I say) “selling out”. To those that say yes, well good luck. My latest treat is Spike Jonze’ Absolut Vodka incarnation. It looks beautiful, its a great little story and it further locks the brand of Absolut into the minds of consumers. Jean-Pierre Jeunet has recently done a short for perfume Chanel N5, Lynch did one for Gucci and so did Chris Cunningham. Brands realize that they need to expand the “edibility” of their product. They do that by widening the possibilities of how consumers find and interact with their brands.

I know within Agencies the wave of “interaction”, “web 2.0” and “multi-platform” commercials may be subsiding but its far from over. Brands need to know that you are thinking about them. As film makers we make people think about things and more than that we aim to emotionally move an audience from one space to another. In other words what we do is what brands are looking for. However we are un-trained in the commercial speak and I think we loose out because of it.

I feel branded content still has a long way to go before it reaches it’s peak. Further than that as film makers we need to start seeing ourselves as a unique entity. with that I mean finding a voice/style that is yours, each one of these film makers get to do the awesome stuff because it is recognizable to an audience. Be brave regarding that, finding what makes you unique as a story teller. I think someone getting that right at the moment is Sean Metelerkamp. He directed the Die Antwoord music vid’s and has done some phenomenal photographic images for Fokofpolisiekar, Velocity films as well as Fly on the Wall.

However I digress. Here is a nice interview from The Workbook Project about misconceptions of branded entertainment:

Creative Director Tim Roper from award winning advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Interview by Peter Katz.

What do you feel are the biggest misconceptions about branded content?
The biggest misconception is how easy it is to conceive it in a fresh way and then how willing people are to consume it when it’s not fresh. Even though great branded content is a great thing, it’s extremely rare and certainly not something consumers are actively demanding.

How do you effectively balance the responsibilities of creating content that competes with the entertainment quality of popular culture, while at the same getting consumers to buy more stuff?
That’s the key: If you think about the bar for ad content as being all the funniest, most poignant, most compelling and entertaining stuff that the rest of pop culture is cranking out, then you’re going to inevitably shoot higher. Few companies are doing that. As for consumers, it’s all about truth, really. Whether they realize it or not, audiences look for truth in things. In music, film, television….They want to relate to things. So when they can recognize a kernel of truth in ANY content with an entertaining wrapper, they embrace it. So, start with the truth, set the bar high and you’ll achieve that balance you’re talking about. Hopefully.

In a couple years will more entertainment be branded content?
I imagine so. But, if it is, I sure hope people push as hard on making the content actually entertaining as they do on dreaming up the vehicles or pitching the increased spend. Because for every BMW films or overtly “green” 30 Rock episode, there’s a dozen silly, contrived videos about mayonnaise or BBQ sauce or head-scratching web labyrinths for some car company that just aren’t begging to be engaged with.

Branded content, also known as Branded entertainment and Product placement, is a relatively new form of advertising medium that blurs conventional distinctions between what constitutes advertising and what constitutes entertainment. Branded content is essentially a fusion of the two into one product intended to be distributed as entertainment content, albeit with a highly branded quality. Branded content, unlike conventional forms of entertainment content, is generally funded entirely by a brand or corporation rather than, for example, a Movie studio or a group of producers. However, it can be argued that this is just a new name for the same type of marketing that was pioneered by soap manufacturers in the early days of radio and television with the soap opera.” (Wikipedia)