Sabre Thinking

21 Mar / Grab Your Popcorn: Why Brands Are Disguising Ads as Short Films

Watching movies is a favorite past time and hobby of many people. Whether going out to the theatre or curling up on the couch, watching a good film is a great way to escape the stressors of everyday life and indulge in some fantasy. For advertisers, movies and branded video present various opportunities for product promotions. Movies and advertisements are actually becoming quite similar, especially with the rise of product placement and celebrity endorsements.

Many brands have begun creating short films and movie-trailer style commercials after new research showed that 80% of millennials make purchasing decisions based on the videos that they watch. Animoto also found that 76% of millennials are following brands on YouTube, which is among the most popular websites and apps available. It has also been found that almost 50% of Internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store. This adds pressure for brands to put out visual content that is engaging and appealing to the demographic that primarily streams video rather than reading magazines or watching TV. Because of this, 48% of marketers plan to add YouTube to their content strategy in the next year.

One of the pioneers of the branded short film movement was BMW in 2001 – a time before YouTube and video streaming, when the internet had just started to become a household staple. They produced and released a series of eight short films called “The Hire” that featured its protagonist driving the latest models of the luxury vehicles. The films accumulated millions of views on the car retailer’s website, courtesy of brilliant production, famous guest directors and star-studded celebrity cameos. BMW has since revived this concept, recently releasing a new short film in 2016 titled “The Escape.”

These videos are definitely longer than the average television commercial, with some extending well past the ten-minute mark. However, they can be much more engaging and interesting for viewers thanks to more compelling content and the occasional celebrity appearance. Since the length can be an issue for television spots, they will frequently only be available on the brand’s website or on a video-sharing platform like YouTube or Vimeo. To spread awareness and attract viewers, the brands will typically cut the video down into short teasers that can be shown on television or shared on social media.

The purpose of these branded, extended-length videos is to provide entertainment and an experience to their audiences, which in turn will generate likability and interest. It also helps to appeal to the viewer’s emotions, using humor and other theatrics, which is a proven way to increase the success of ads. This new method of advertising will help consumers see brands in a new light, as they are essentially poking fun at themselves and not being as serious as a typical ad campaign would be. Traditional advertising is quickly becoming a thing of the past, especially for brands looking to identify with millennials who are rejecting conventional methods that have worked in the past for older generations. This is forcing brands to think outside the box and pursue more creative avenues if they wish to stay relevant, particularly with the younger audiences.

Today, various brands have caught on to the success of short films and movie trailers for product and brand awareness and have made the investment to make a bigger impact on consumers. Companies like Taco Bell, Kylie Cosmetics, Gucci, Marriot, American Girl and many other brands across all industries have begun integrating extended-length videos into their marketing strategies.

Do you prefer short films to typical advertising strategies?

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