The sad truth is not many people like watching commercials. While some are very entertaining and feature high-production values, the viewer still knows it’s a commercial and their natural defenses against being sold to are on full alert. This is not to say commercials aren’t effective, simply that there are some pre-conceived negative connotations to them.
But people do love a good film. Some people actually pay money to see them. Which is why many marketers are creating their own films.
They’re called “brand films” and even hard-to-reach millennials are watching them.
The difference between a commercial and a brand film is that in a commercial the product or service being sold is the main character. Brand films treat the product or service as part of the supporting cast. It may be important to the story, but not the focus.
It’s important to actually have a plot and interesting characters to make a brand film work, otherwise no one will want to watch it.
At first blush, many marketers say “why would I spend all that money to make a movie when my product isn’t front and center?” The most basic reason is also one of the most important aspects of all marketing: connecting your brand with your audience. To create a relationship that feels like it benefits both parties.
Over the last few years brand films have been growing in popularity and some are garnering millions of viewers. Most brand films use YouTube as their primary distribution platform and their social media outlets to promote the film. The hope is that fans will spread the word.
For decades, companies have been paying for product placement in big Hollywood blockbusters. Brand films turn this marketing venue on its head by actually creating the movie (and certainly the wished-for blockbuster) with the product or service in mind from the beginning.
Perhaps the hardest part of creating a brand film is reining in the urge to make the product or service a bigger part of the story. If you do that, you have made a commercial, perhaps a really expensive and really long one, but still a commercial and chances are it may never find an audience.
So grab some popcorn and check out some of the brand films that are creating audiences and customers.