Here is another form of marketing that big industries are trying out: the short film. Product placement in reverse – don’t pay Hollywood to put your products in their films, make your own films surrounding your products! This is big in the luxury market with brands such as BMW, Chanel, Ritz Carlton, and Mercedes giving it a go.
The short film is one aspect of new media that is becoming increasingly popular to get the audience's attention. NY Times' Nat Ives sums it up well: "The motivation to entertain consumers, rather than persuade them through traditional advertising, stems from a changing media landscape in which consumers increasingly avoid, tune out or fast-forward through marketing messages.” The short film can take on many forms for a brand, and in some cases become very popular with audiences, as in the case of BMW's “The Hire” starring Clive Owen as “Driver”, a series of eight short films that debuted at the Cannes film festival and have won several awards.
BMW’s films have been very successful for the brand. In 2001 and 2002, they were a pioneering effort. It was a natural progression for BMW into this type of marketing, as their automobiles are frequently featured in film, and it provides a great outlet to show off style, class, and quality better than the 30 second spot. In the four months following the debut, the films were viewed over 11 million times.
Other brands have since tried their hand at creating short films. One of the most well-known examples of this is Chanel No. 5’s film starring Nicole Kidman as the most famous woman in the world. This film actually served dual purpose for the brand, as it was shortened into a 30 second television spot.
Short films as a marketing tool are still relatively new. They have proven to be useful in the right market for an established brand. They provide entertainment value to the audience in exchange for brand messages, but they can be expensive to make. They seem to work best for the big spenders, but other brands are beginning to branch out into documentary style or low budget short films. What do you see for future implications of the short film as a branding medium – a natural extension from product placement or high cost projects that will fizzle out?