10 Feb 2014

BEST OF 2013

2013 will go down as the breakthrough year for branded arts, entertainment and experiences. The year when branded arts smashed through the tipping point as brands of all varieties rushed to jump on board. 

With 2012 ending on a high, literally, as Red Bull pulled off the most ambitious and impressive branded entertainment project ever with Red Bull Stratos. 2013 kicked into gear with brands jostling to show what they could do in all shapes and forms. 

From Jean Claude Van Damme’s Epic Spilt  to Levi’s Station to Station, a branded train travelling across the US with performances and installations, the market was exploding with entertaining and engaging branded arts, entertainment and experiences, all funded and created by brands. 

There were branded films in all shapes and forms: IBM created the world’s smallest film, GE created a series of mini blockbusters, Element took audiences to the arctic  and Intel & Toshiba returned for a third year in a row with its ‘Inside’ series, this time it was alien moustaches in ‘The Power Inside’. The films were entertaining, funny and a large portion were moving with Skype, British Airways and Thai telecommunications company True, among a host of brands bringing audiences to tears with beautiful storytelling.  

2013 saw luxury fashion brands dive on board the branded arts and entertainment bandwagon: Chanel celebrated the one and only Coco Chanel with a series of short films, Dior channelled James Dean, while Louis Vuitton took us on a Journey They also embraced exhibitions: Louis Vuitton hosted a controversial exhibition in Russia’s Red Square, supported by a superb film with Bowie, Cartier’s style and history was on display in Paris’ Grand Palais and Hugo Boss celebrated 20 years at London’s Saatchi Gallery. 

It wasn’t just the fashion brands getting in on the act, automotive brands from around the globe embraced branded arts: Honda turned to film creating the superb ‘Hands’, Porsche created a 100 foot sculpture and Mini Cooper created installations and made artwork out of its vehicles. 

Locally in Australia there were some outstanding projects: Intel teamed up with music artist Flume to create an impressive film and music track, Boost Mobile launched its own Zombie series with 'Stay Living' while Qantas created a series of films as part of its sponsorship of Tropfest. 

There were pop-ups everywhere from GQ’s Brooklyn Barber Shop to Hermes retro diner to showcase its silk scarves, even Barbie got a pop-up when Mattel launched the Barbie dream house. 

Companies created impressive branded platforms, From Patagonia’s Worn Wear platform, to Lincoln Motor Company’s Hello Again and Lexus’ portrait painting Hybrid cars. 

Perhaps more than any other trend, 2013 was a year of collaborations: Dom Perignon & Jeff Koons, Volkswagen & Walk off the Earth, Coca-Cola & Metallica, Blackberry teamed with Neil Gaiman, Robert Rodriguez and Alicia Keys.  

Hollywood joined forces with ad land to collaborate on some outstanding projects notably, Ridley Scott Associates ‘Desire’ film for Jaguar starring Damian Lewis, Sainsbury’s enlisted Kevin Macdonald to create Christmas In a Day and Prada partnered with Wes Anderson producing a number of projects, first was Candy, created by Andersen and Roman Coppola, then Castello Cavalcanti a 7 minute film starring Jason Schwartzman. 

The projects were as varied as they were impressive with all showcasing an insatiable appetite for creating engaging and legitimate pieces of art, entertainment and culture. What was clear throughout the year, as it was in 2012 is that the brands which were prepared to invest and to take risks were rewarded. From the good, to the excellent, to the simply fantastic, these projects pushed creative boundaries, broke rules and delighted audiences as genuine and entertaining pieces of art. 

These are Branded Arts Review's 'Best of 2013'. 

  • Dove ‘Real Beauty Sketches’

This 3-minute film has been viewed more than 60 million times and it was the most watched brand video in 2013. A testament to how the Dove brand now owns the strategy of ‘real beauty’. This is a great example of how brands can gain serious scale with branded entertainment. You can’t argue with the numbers, audiences really connected with this film.  

  • Volvo Trucks ‘Live Tests’

To demonstrate the stability, strength and precision of Volvo Trucks, the brand launched a series of online films depicting the trucks in a range of live stunts. Before the monumentally popular Van Damme stunt went viral, Volvo Trucks had dangled its CEO on a hook above the ocean and had a mouse drive a truck up a hill. An immensely impressive series. 

  • Patagonia ‘Worn Wear’ 

Launching in the midst of the US shopping frenzy of Black Friday & Cyber Monday, Patagonia’s Worn Wear is a branded initiative encouraging its customers to buy less and be more sustainable. The initiative includes a dedicated clothing Repair Guide published with peer-edited repair manual iFixit and Patagonia Sewing Kits containing Patagonia materials to extend the life of products. To cap it all off Patagonia also created a brilliant documentary to bring the sustainability message to life. Incredible work. 

  • BEST OF 2013 

By CAA Marketing & Moonbot Studios 

A powerful and polarizing short film, which is the companion piece to its branded app-based game ‘The Scarecrow’ tells the story of a scarecrow that abandons the factory food world to bring wholesome ‘real’ food to the masses. It is a no holds barred attack on the big food industry, which is depicted as evil and unnatural factory food with Chipotle showcased as wholesome real and natural. The aim is to make sure consumers know exactly who Chipotle is - and perhaps most importantly who it isn’t - and what the brand stands for.                 

Coming at a time when the food industry is under increased scrutiny through the rise of obesity, diabetes and food related allergies, and as the US is transfixed by debate around GM modified crops, particularly in regards to Monsanto, this film does not hold back. Dark, emotive and highly manipulative, the strategy is clear: you are either with Chipotle or you are with the evil big food. There is no grey area here.  The strategy is sound, the artistry is impressive, the film and soundtrack are beautifully executed – albeit highly manipulative.

The result is that the viewer is left with little doubts that Chipotle is all about wholesome real foods. All up an immensely successful piece of entertainment.

Read more here 


By Wieden + Kennedy 

Heineken’s foray into the world of branded entertainment, saw the creation of an online adventure series, ‘Dropped’, which was described as Jackass meets Survivor. The brand launched a worldwide hunt for men to take part and then proceeded to drop them into unknown situations and watch what happened next.

The series brought to life Heineken’s brand strategy, which has long centered on Heineken’s Men of the World, who we see in the ads achieving all sorts of incredible legendary feats. This resourceful, imaginative, inventive and charming character can deal with any situation. Men want to be him, women want to be with him and Heineken wants you to celebrate him every time you go to the bar. ‘Dropped’ aimed to put real men to the test to see just how legendary they could be and whether they too could be a Man of the World. 

The result was a highly entertaining series of adventures – the episodes ranged from absurd to crazy and all the while were genuinely compelling viewing. It reached its elusive target market with the series attracting more than 35 million views in more than 200 countries. Heineken pulled off an ambitious project and created a playful, fun and extremely watchable series.

Read more here 


By BBDO New York 

US Telco AT&T teamed with legendary director Werner Herzog to create a heartbreaking documentary which aimed to curb the growing number of road accidents caused by texting behind the wheel. The 35-minute film ‘From One Second to The Next’ is a confronting and moving documentary, which formed part of a broader campaign called ‘It Can Wait’ which has seen the big US Telco’s team up to try and address the growing issue.  

The film delivers stories from victims and their families as well as the stories from the perpetrators of horrific and fatal accidents. For AT&T the strategy is simple: this brand is leading the campaign to stop the behavior and put an end to people texting while driving. AT&T is also investing in apps that can switch your phone to driving mode and a host of other precautions.  

This is not a trivial piece of corporate social responsibility,  this is a genuine film, with a very worthy and meaningful message. In a market teaming with brands trying to do good deeds, AT&T is genuinely trying to save lives and this film aims to raise awareness of a dangerous and stupid behavior. For a brand to invest significantly in a campaign that ultimately aims to stop people using their product – at least while driving – takes bravery and leadership. This is a staggering achievement in branded entertainment.

Read more here 


By Burberry

Last year Burberry launched its flagship store in London’s Regent Street, the space aimed to seamlessly blur the physical and digital worlds of Burberry and in the process create a branded entertainment experience. The store was modeled on Burberry.com, a site brimming with luxurious product imagery, rich storytelling, branded films, exclusive music performances and Burberry experiences, including Burberry Bespoke a tool to help you custom make a Burberry trench. 

The store brings all this to life through ipads, digital screens, including a 38square metre screen, 420 speakers, and a hydraulic stage. Products are tagged with RFID tags which trigger content when touched – for example a handbag when touched will launch a video about the craftsmanship behind the bag or a dress taken into a change room may trigger a video of a runway show. It also houses choreographed audiovisual takeovers such as a digital rain shower that sweeps across the stores screens and speakers – a very savvy move when your core product is a raincoat. The strategy here is simple: if we do it online, we do it in store. Burberry has brought together their digital and physical worlds to ensure every touchpoint is on brand.  

Burberry chief creative officer and newly appointed CEO Christopher Bailey says “It’s not just about shopping, the important thing for me is that when you go in you feel entertained.” Burberry has created the full experience of its brand and that includes arts and entertainment. The store is a master class for brands, in how to create an immersive branded entertainment experience.

Read more here 


By Forsman & Bodenfors

In what could be the most unlikely collaboration of all time: Swedish car manufacturer Volvo teamed up with one of the world’s biggest electronic music acts, Swedish House Mafia, to create a short film to promote Volvo’s new XC60. Volvo is targeting young couples & young families with a message about getting away: this is a car to take you out of the city away from all the stress of modern life and let you escape onto the open roads. It’s not a new strategy for an auto brand but the success of this film is all in the execution, Volvo doesn’t just take you out of the city, it takes you to the end of the world and the emotion of this imagery and the sense of isolation is very powerful.  

The landscape of Sweden is so striking and accompanied by the haunting singing, it’s deeply emotive and like Chipotle it’s highly manipulative. This film transports you to another world and really pulls at your primal desire to escape and literally leave the world behind. Most significantly the film makes you think twice about the brand and really reconsider what you thought about Volvo: a brand, which for many is synonymous with boring, safe and old. This ad is none of those things and that is a major achievement. 

This is a breathtakingly beautiful homage to Scandinavia and an ode to the freedom of escaping. It is a sublime piece of film and an amazing example of how magical a great film can be. 

Read more here





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21 Dec 2014

Location: Bellevue WADate: September 25, 2012Sales Person: Wayne T.SalesService Not Rated I purchased a pre-owned C30V, 2008. We had soppted for my partner to see what you had on the lot for his future reference as he is planning an upgrade in about 6 months. I had been test-driving Toyotas earlier that day, also for a planned upgrade in a few months. We spotted the C30V right away and inquired about the mileage and price, which were right in my target. As it turned out, the salesperson, Wayne Thiessen, drives a later model of the same car and was very knowledgeable about its features. We appreciated that your staff stayed late to finalize everything (we had come late in the day and did not plan to purchase anything). I haven't bought a car in 20 years, and was a little overwhelmed to start with. But your team was very patient with my caution and put me at ease. I already had a good impression of Barrier from riding along with my partner purchased his last 3 cars there and hearing his report of good experiences with service.

18 Dec 2014

Location: Renton WADate: July 15, 2012Sales Person: GeoffSalesService Not Rated I wanted a Volvo bacuese of the BLIS system. That was my must-have feature. After arriving at Barrier Volvo early Saturday morning, my husband and I told the sales guy what I was looking for. We looked around some, he showed me the XC60s and I decided, that was what I wanted. Then began the searching. I’m not sure what exactly is done when your sales folks search but it takes forever. I told him what color I wanted, he searched and searched. Your dealership, other dealerships, etc. Then I picked a second color. More searching, talking to the manager, looked in the back room, etc. (I’m not sure where he went when searching, or why the Manager could do a better/different search?). Third color choice and more searching. Eventually, after we had been there for several hours, our guy found my 3rd color choice with roughly the features I was interested in but they couldn’t find the car. They saw it in the computer (?) but couldn’t locate it on the lot. More waiting and talking to the Manager while our sales guy did God knows what to search. Eventually, my husband and I were starving and went to lunch around 3pm. We told the sales manager, who was sitting with us, that we were going to have a bite and come back. He suggested we take the car they were looking for to lunch since I test-drove one with different features. More waiting. So, we gave up and told him we’d be back in a half hour or so. While I was at lunch our sales guy called asking where we went and that he had finally located the XC60 in question. Apparently your staff doesn’t communicate very well. After returning from “lunch”, the car was waiting, we just had to sign the paperwork which required more waiting. Three hours in fact! To be honest, we should have left and came back. Part of that is my fault for not realizing it was after 6pm and I still hadn’t made it in to your finance guy. Plans with friends came and went and finally we got in to see the guy, signed all the paperwork, bought the undercoating or what-not and drove our nice new Volvo XC60 (third color choice) home, frustrated but relieved our ordeal was over … until I tried to change lanes. The car you sold me had no BLIS system in it! We turn around, but unfortunately, it was so late that the dealership was closed when we left and no one was around. I tried to call the phone number that the sales guy called from at lunch but it went to a recording which did NOT give me the option to leave a message (very frustrating). The next morning (Sunday) I had to work so my husband took the Volvo back to the dealership to swap it for one that has BLIS. They put him in the lounge while they “searched”. After 45 minutes he wondered into the showroom and asked for my BMW X3 back. The salesman began to search for one with BLIS with my husband – what he was doing while my husband waited?? To be honest, at this point, my husband felt like he was put in the lounge to try to be waited out. Like if you ruined another day of our weekend, he’d just give up and keep the car without the one feature I really wanted. After more “searching”, urges to just order a 2013 model (and wait who know how many months for it), and my husband’s increasingly agitated insistence that you bring my car around, he filled out the paperwork to return the XC60 and get my car back. Of course, you neglected to give us our down payment. So, half way home, he had to go back to the dealership. But it was my debit card we used, not his. You were unable to return the money so he agreed to stop by on his way to work and have you cancel the charge on my card. Even though he was there for nearly two hours on Sunday, the finance guy called me later that afternoon and asked how we wanted the down payment returned. More great communication between your people. Frustrated, I told him to just mail us the check. However, as I write this, I have no confidence he actually told anyone so my husband will have to stop by on his way home from work to double-check someone actually mailed a check or charge back the debit card. Today, I’m still driving my X3.I’m still interested in an XC60 but there appears to be none with BLIS in any decent color anywhere. If I’m going to wait, EU delivery appeals to me, but regardless of my ultimate decision, it is difficult to see how Barrier Motors plays a part in that transaction. Buying a car shouldn’t take 7 hours on my one day off, much less the other hours trying to correct the mistake you made by sending me home without the 1 feature I really wanted. We went to Barrier Motors bacuese we’d heard you have good customer service. Unfortunately, you didn’t live up to the hype, your commercials or even these reviews.

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