Brand films continue to grow in popularity and reach, spanning a multitude of industries from the automotive world to sports to financial services.
WINNER: The Un-Adventures
Hyundai and Tastemade with Innocean, Canvas Worldwide and Civic Entertainment Group
More than 35 million Americans have never left their home state. In each episode of this three-part series, host Selema Masekela meets one of them and they embark on a road trip. While the sights they see for the first time — the ocean, the desert, the bright lights of Nashville — are dazzling, it is watching the subjects of these films overcome mental and emotional barriers that gives them resonance. A man who has long dreamed of performing stand-up comedy is given the opportunity at a club in Atlanta, while another reconnects to long-deferred dream of pursuing a career as a fireman/EMT. Then there’s the young mother from Georgia who attempts to conquer fears that will allow her to be better able to explore the world with her son, without trepidation. Full of spirit and insights on the possibilities that open up when people leave their comfortable spaces, The Un-Adventures was embraced by viewers. The campaign resulted in a 49% increase in social media following and a 40% increase in purchase intent.
HONORABLE MENTION: Waterman
B&W Trailer Hitches and Scenic Road
Lenovo and Zeno Group with Nom de Guerre Films
Directed by T.G. Herrington, this two-minute film casts viewers into the near future and encourages us to imagine a milestone that many of us pondered in 2020 when Mars exploration was in the headlines: The first manned mission to the red planet. In Liftoff, the first person to take this step is, in fact, a woman. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold is ubiquitous throughout the spot, used to track the progress of the mission and the astronaut’s physical state, as well as to connect her with her family even as she is physically separated from them. The film also serves as a nod to the ThinkPad’s history: It became the first PC in space when it was used on NASA missions in the 1980s. Liftoff manages to evoke excitement about technology while simultaneously offering an intimate and human portrayal. In the process, the ThinkPad X1 Fold becomes an essential tool allowing humanity to achieve its most audacious goals.
HONORABLE MENTION: SAP | Innovation at the Edge Documentary
SAP and Indigo Slate
WINNER: Kingsford Preserve the Pit
Kingsford and Current Global with Woodward Original
When many Americans think of barbeque, their first associations are likely uncomplicated ones: memories of warm-weather meals with friends and family. In this two-minute film, which was part of the launch of Kingsford’s Preserve the Pit program, the company delves into the historical and cultural significance of barbeque. The cooking technique has deep roots in the African-American community and has provided opportunities for both innovation and the preservation of traditions. Barbeque joints have long been central to building neighborhoods and communities in Black America — but that legacy is in danger of being forgotten and, if neglected, it will not grow. To kick off the company’s initiative to support a new, younger generation of Black pitmasters with grants to barbeque entrepreneurs, Kingsford turned to cultural historian Dr. Howard Conyers, media partners with strong multicultural strategy teams, and its own DE&I group to introduce the complex and fascinating story behind a uniquely American cuisine.
HONORABLE MENTION: Free Range Humans: Life Outside the Cage
Corona and Pereira O’Dell with Rocket Film, Dentsu and Alison Brod Marketing + Communications
WINNER: Pay Day
Synchrony Bank and Giant Spoon with ColorCreative
Encouraging consumers to patiently and persistently save for distant goals may seem like difficult material for a filmmaker to make entertaining, but Synchrony Bank’s Pay Day successfully uses a modern-day fairytale to encourage financial responsibility. Director Morgan Cooper’s film follows Nyssa Rose (played by Gabrielle Dennis, who also wrote the short), an assistant manager at a flower shop. Nyssa lives for pay day and the twice-monthly opportunities it offers to splurge on clothes, salon visits and evenings out with friends. When she finds herself caught in a Groundhog Day loop, with every day being pay day, she eventually realizes the route out of her temporal trap is to start saving to launch her own business, an exotic plants delivery service. Cooper’s best-known work to date was a four-minute trailer reimagining The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with a darker, more realistic edge. In Pay Day, the mood is light, the colors saturated and the humor contagious. Saving for a rainy day or a big goal never felt so fun.
HONORABLE MENTION: Small Town Heroes: Building New Foundation for Military Kids After Loss
USAA and Courageous Studio with Publicis Groupe
Healthcare: Unbranded: Best creation of awareness of a healthcare issue or disease/condition in regulated markets.
WINNER: A Mystery to Me
Argenx with Sarofsky, Closerlook and Syneos Health
People living with myasthenia gravis must confront not only the challenges that the autoimmune disease itself presents — including its often-sudden onset — but also the public’s lack of familiarity with it. The three people portrayed in A Mystery to Me, a series of three documentaries ranging between 14:26 and 19:43 in length, face baffled doctors and skeptical friends. Argenx’s series allowed subjects to tell their own stories, describing when they first realized something was wrong and recounting their paths back to something approaching their previous lives. A Mystery to Me was shot remotely during the first nine months of the pandemic. As a result, the handheld footage serves the series well, lending it a sense of unguarded intimacy. The series generated 87,000 page views and the three mini-documentaries were screened at the Chicago International Film Festival. However, the commentary that matters most to Argenx is the positive feedback from the MG community.
HONORABLE MENTION: The Future is Intuitive
Intuitive with Swanson Studios and Impact Creative
WINNER: Relentless Pursuit: No Stone Left Unturned
Pfizer and Courageous Studio with 301 Digital Media
In 2020, several pharmaceutical companies became household names when their efforts to develop COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics were the focus of breathless media coverage. Even as the spotlight shined on them, however, their daily work remained a mystery to many. Pfizer used two short films to pull back the curtain. Relentless Pursuit: Fighting Cancer Resistance follows a stage-four cancer patient and a Pfizer researcher working on treatments that will allow the patient to continue to live. The film puts a human face on clinical trials while celebrating the courage of the individuals who participate in them. The second film, Relentless Pursuit: No Stone Unturned, focuses on Pfizer’s efforts to create a COVID-19 vaccine. In it, various Pfizer employees, many filming from their own homes, explain their roles and the challenges that come with getting a vaccine to market in record time.
HONORABLE MENTION: Hearing Loss
Frequency Therapeutics, Osmosis Films and Ruder Finn
WINNER: Wheelin’ and Dealin’: The Bobby Spencer Story
Anheuser-Busch — Busch Beer, Netflix and Observatory with Gravy
This five-minute film from Netflix and Anheuser-Busch takes one of the minor characters from the Kevin James/Jeff Lowell sitcom The Crew and shares his implausible backstory in an elaborate mockumentary. Bobby Spencer, the team owner portrayed by Bruce McGill, had a surprising start to his NASCAR career when he inadvertently qualified by driving a Busch delivery truck around the track 200 times. He also, the film tells viewers, invented the six-pack. With its mix of historic and recreated footage and interviews with the people who were witnesses to the birth of a supposed legend, Wheelin’ and Dealin’ embodies the best of the mockumentary genre with some impressive star power too — Jane Seymour and Seal are among the celebrities who make appearances. Seymour steals her scenes with one-liners that perfectly play off the tone of The Crew: “He was a Greek god with a mullet that smelled of lilacs and transmission fluid,” she notes.
WINNER: Dear Santa
United States Postal Service (USPS) and UM with IFC Films
The 84-minute Dear Santa goes deep on the United States Postal Service’s 100-year-old Operation Santa program. It began in 1912 when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock allowed local postmasters to permit postal employees and individual citizens to reply to letters addressed to Santa. In this film, audiences meet some of the letter writers, who share their hopes that, this year, Santa will bring them everything from tolerance to baby bunnies. The volunteers who choose to respond to letters and purchase gifts from Santa are showcased as well. Operation Santa has reached a bureaucratic scale by necessity, but in the end it is still a reminder that with all the trouble in the world, “people still care,” to quote a participant in the program. Audiences responded warmly to the feel-good documentary, to the tune of 783 press hits and 61,000 social posts. The most important metric: Operation Santa had a record-setting year in terms of volunteers adopting letters.
HONORABLE MENTION: Out North
Fiverr with Bindery
WINNER: The North Face presents: Facets
The North Face with Sherpas Cinema
For too long, many women snowboarders have felt marginalized. They have often been held up as evidence that the sport is inclusive, or at least aspires to be. So when the North Face formed a team comprised of some of the best female athletes in the sport — Amanda Hankison, Marion Haerty, Leanne Pelosi, Jess Kimura and Mary Rand — a new potential was unlocked. These riders share a similar voice and amplify it as they draw on each other’s strengths. The result is a team that’s somehow even stronger than the sum of its individual parts. “Facets” consists of short interviews with the athletes as they explain what brought them to the sport and reflect on their teammates and the traits they admire in them. And needless to say, there is plenty of footage of feats of athletic prowess that will have you on the edge of your seat.
HONORABLE MENTION: North Country
Lahout’s, Merrell, Keen, Kuhl, Prana, Burton Snowboards, The North Face, Icelantic Skis and Stept Studios
HONORABLE MENTION: Share Aloha
Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau and Edelman
The state of Hawaii’s 2020 tourism dilemma was made even more challenging when its governor expressly asked people not to visit — and then, shortly thereafter, mandated a 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving in Hawaii. Share Aloha was a response to the COVID-19 crisis and the suspension of travel. It took the form of an 80-second postcard from the islands, which shared their beauty as well as a message about the aloha spirit. The clip generated 4.86 million views impressions across Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.