Brand film is no longer a fringe player

"We even have entire industry events dedicated to this type of work. A Brand Film Festival, no less!"

Brand film has evolved. What was once a fringe thought – that we could create content (filmed, musical, experiential, gaming) that would attract and engage an audience the same way entertainment does while also driving brand and business results – is now mainstream. We even have entire industry events dedicated to this type of work. A Brand Film Festival, no less!

Films that once sat at the edge of a campaign (or the back of the book that initially presented that campaign), created to complement and amplify the interruptive elements of an integrated campaign, now sit at the center of the campaign with additional elements serving to complement and amplify the film. 

This is not a small distinction. And, honestly, it took way longer than some of us thought it might. 

But here we are! We’re here because content-centric campaigns consistently out-perform purely interruptive campaigns. We’re here because of the type of work celebrated by the Brand Film Festival. 

This year’s finalists are the best examples yet. I’ve been asked to share some favorites, but I love them all. Please do take the time to watch them.  And, honestly, it’s not this year’s finalists but, rather, one of last year’s winners that really has me thinking. If you have not watched "5B" please watch it before you watch anything else. Johnson & Johnson’s brilliant homage to the nurses on the frontline of the AIDS epidemic would be powerful in any year, but its prescience and resonance this year make it that much more powerful. I know you’re already grateful for the work of first-responders and frontline workers, but 5B will give you an even deeper appreciation alongside historical perspective. 

Which brings me to my next point: When culture changes as significantly as it has in 2020, how we as consumers interpret our entertainment, what attracts us and brings us together, how we feel about being interrupted by dumb ads and even good ones — all of that changes, too. If I see that damned ambulance-chaser class-action lawsuit ad on CNN one more time...

How we look at ourselves and think about what we do for a living can be subject to perspective shift, too. Compared to frontline workers, our work as marketers and entertainers may seem frivolous. But content gives us a means to escape or a means to connect. And, while health and wellness come first, content that leads to commerce also matters.

Be proud of what you do, of the role we play in moving our industry forward, and the role we play in moving our economy forward. I am.

Okay, enough professional existentialism. My point is that Brand Film has never had a better moment than in 2020, that marketing content that attracts and engages rather than interrupts will continue to grow, and that we should thank those saving lives and keeping us fed while also not feeling terrible about ourselves for entertaining people and helping brands and business along the way.

As we watch the Brand Film Awards unveil its best-of-the-best later today, let’s celebrate each other, our industry, the good work behind and that ahead. We at Observatory, alongside our clients and partners are incredibly proud to be in such good company with this year’s finalists, and we offer our congratulations to all.

Stay safe and be well. 

Jae Goodman is CEO of global creative agency Observatory (A Stagwell and CAA company), and a past jury president and winner of the Brand Film Awards.

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