Stop making ads and start making entertaining content!
This was the rally cry from this year's Cannes International Festival of Creativity. The annual festival, which recognises the best work from the advertising industry and also serves to highlight the themes and issues for the year ahead, had one area of focus: Branded Entertainment.
The talk at Cannes was once again all about content and collaboration. The event was bombarded by celebrity artists, directors, musicians etc, all of which called for fewer ads and more content and creativity. However, the very category that was on the tips of everyone’s lips failed to recognise a Grand Prix.
The top gong snub was not due to a lack of entries, the Branded Entertainment category at Cannes was "exploding out of all proportions”, according to Cannes Lions CEO Philip Thomas. But are explosions a good thing? Did the volume of entries serve to undermine the category?
Jury president Doug Scott, president of OgilvyEntertainment, told Adweek that the panel had not agreed on one project that it deemed worthy of the top gong. "Despite the fact that we saw great submissions from clients and agencies around the world, and awarded 11 golds, none of the work exemplified all of the key elements of extraordinary branded content—originality, craft, integration, brand alignment and most importantly narrative," Scott said. "It is my belief that we as the provocateurs of culture need to push harder with our creative tools and create stories that not only reflect the present but set the future."
Branded Arts Review uses its own criteria to evaluate Branded Entertainment. BAR seeks to recognize work which demonstrates both creative excellence and strategic purpose, that creates emotional connections with audiences, and holds up as legitimate piece of art or entertainment.
Faced with compiling Branded Arts Review’s Best of Cannes, this year’s selection could not have been more difficult. The category was overflowing with brilliant examples that demonstrated strategy, artistry and exceptional execution.
Significantly many of the projects featured in the category were consumed by large audiences around the globe who choose to engage with these pieces of content - some of which are one hour long – despite the fact that they were created by brands. If that does not make the work worthy of recognition then what does?
There were many notable content-rich campigns such as: Skype’s ‘Born Friends’ campaign, a beautiful film that brought the Skype experience to life; Honda’s ‘Project Drive-In’, a brilliant campaign to save Drive-In Cinemas; and VW Kombi’s ‘Last Wishes’, a heartwarming campaign dripping in nostalgia to farewell the beloved VW Kombi van.
There were also some standout branded entertainment projects such as: Guinness’ ‘The Sapeurs’, an engaging documentary about the Society of Elegant Persons of the Congo; Not Impossible & Intel's ‘Project Daniel’, a three-minute film which tells the story of the world’s first 3D prosthetic printing lab; and Intel and Toshiba’s ‘The Power Inside’, an exceptional online series, which was perhaps overshadowed by its groundbreaking predecessor The Beauty Inside.
However there were two outstanding projects worthy of special mention for pushing boundaries and creating unique and innovative approaches and exceptional execution:
- Christmas In A Day, a 45-minute cinematic experiment, the online film compiled user-generated content to bring to life a collective view of how everyday Britons celebrate Christmas Day. The film, which was created by Sainsbury’s and AMV BBDO, was released on Christmas Day.
‘Sweetie’, is a staggering achievement by children’s aid organization, Terres des Hommes, which aimed to raise awareness about Webcam Child Sex Tourism. Sweetie was an interactive 3D model that looked and moved like a 10-year-old Filipino girl and went online and caught 1,000 predators. The documentary was released ata press conference along with all the evidence from the operation, which was given to Interpol. This is an incredibly powerful and intense campaign. It is an incredible achievement by the brand and it's agency Lemz. The work is worthy of recognition and awards, but was it branded entertainment? Did it meet the Branded Arts Review criteria? The team behind Branded Arts Review were unable to agree. However it is included so you can make up your own mind.
Client: AMIA (Asociacion Mutual Isrealita Argentina)
Creative Company: Ogilvy & Mather Argentina
The AMIA (Asociacion Mutual Isrealita Argentina) created an interactive sensorial experience to recreate a terrorist attack, which took place on the Jewish Community building on July 18 1994. The attack was the largest terrorist attack in the history of Argentina however 19 years later the cause is still unsolved. With the attack slipping from people’s memories, AMIA created the experience to reengage people with the incident and the brand. The AMIA Booth used real scale video projection, 3D surround sound, a vibrating platform, dust and scent dispensers and a heat and blast wave generator to recreate the experience of the attack. A highly emotive and powerful example of how brand experiences can engage and connect with audiences.
Creative Company: 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 aims to raise awareness of the issue and put an end to people texting while driving. 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 film pushes boundaries and delivers a strong emotional message to viewers. This is a staggering achievement in branded entertainment.
Client: Nashville Convention And Visitors Corporation
Creative Company: VML
For The Love of Music, is a 60-minute documentary exploring Nashville’s diverse music scene. Featuring The Black Keys, Kings of Leon and Ben Folds, among a host of other artists, the film sought to examine how the city had expanded beyond its country music heritage to transform into one of the most diverse music scenes in the world. The documentary, which was made on a small budget by Nashville’s Convention And Visitors Corporation, aimed to boost visitors to the city. The key to the documentary’s success came from the famous artists who signed up to tell their stories – not as paid spokespeople but genuine advocates of the city. The integrity of the content led to it being aired on broadcast TV around the world on networks including ABC, Foxtel and CMT. If the ultimate aim for branded entertainment is to create content that users regard as authentic and legitimate then ‘For The Love of Music’ is a sensational example about how engaging and entertaining a 60-minute ad can be.
Creative Companies: CAA Marketing & Moonbot Studios
A powerful and polarizing animated short film, which is the companion piece to a branded app-based game, ‘The Scarecrow’ is an emotive attack on the big food industry. The film 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 evils of the food industry, which positions Chipotle as the wholesome, natural and ethical alternative, despite the smallest possible amount of branding. The three-minute film features a stirring rendition of Willy Wonka’s ‘Pure Imagination’ sung by Fiona Apple. It is dark, emotive, and highly manipulative and leaves the viewer with little doubt about who Chipotle are and what they stand for. Chipotle’s aim was to create a conversation about the rise of processed food and its impact on our world; this film has achieved that and then some. It is engaging, entertaining, thought provoking and beautifully executed. An immensely successful piece of branded entertainment.
Creative Companies: BBH London
A one-hour documentary created by Axe, which charts the brand’s global competition to give 23 people a chance to go to space as official Axe Astronauts. That’s right, Space! The Axe Apollo Space Academy was a global initiative, which ran across 180 markets around the world. The aim was to launch the new male deodorant product Axe Apollo, the result was a mind-blowing 2 million applicants. The film documented the Axe Apollo Space Academy adventure including the finalists from 60 different countries and there experiences at the space training programs. Created for global broadcast, the film was the culmination of a major brand experience and brought to life the ‘Nothing beats Astronaut’ messaging in the brand advertising.
The inspiration behind the project is clear, this is Nike Academy meets Red Bull Stratos, but with Astronauts. However the fact that 23 ordinary people get to be astronauts and go to space is what makes this project so incredibly brilliant and engaging to audiences around the globe. Red Bull Stratos proved that nothing brings a global audience together like taking a man into space. Unilever took that insight and nailed it with this project. The film is set to screen on 180 TV channels around the world. However you view it, it is a phenomenal brand achievement, Axe created a sought after brand experience and a highly engaging piece of branded entertainment. Axe was bang on when they said Nothing Beats Astronaut. A worthy winner of the top gong.