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.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.