Television advertising has been around since the 1940’s in the U.S. and back then most television programmes were branded shows, for example, Colgate Comedy Hour.
The roots of the modern tv commercial came from short cinema films that were screened before the main feature film. Most major industries made short films which were classified as documentaries or educational films but never the less served as a way to promote, by way of informing and entertaining.
The most memorable advert and arguably a game changer was the Apple Commercial 1984 broadcast during the third quarter of the Super Bowl of that year. It was memorable because there was no mention or visual of the product it was advertising (Apple Macintosh computer) so it stuck in people’s mind and became a topic of conversation.
The success of 1984 unleashed many copycat commercials with a free wheeling style. Then in the early 2000’s BMW cars introduced ‘The Hire’ a series of stylish action shorts directed by well known action movie directors like Tony Scott and John Woo.
The series became a huge success primarily because the shorts were entertaining. The actor Clive Owen played a driver for hire who took on dangerous assignments and is seen driving a luxurious BMW car in an action packed story where the car is the hero which saves the day for the lead character.
But the big difference this time was the series was run on the Internet and not tv which meant that viewers had to seek them out and word of mouth played a major part of their success.
Product placement and branded content is ubiquitous on every platform and audiences have accepted this provided it is not too overt and does not become the narrative.
Points to watch when making a branded film:
* Brand films that sell are not films, they are extended ads.
* Brand films that talk about nothing but the company are infomercials.
* Produce for social media platforms. That is where your customer base lives.
* Give freedom to the creatives with great ideas and visual flare and trust them to produce films that get talked about.