Will Ferrell and Joel McHale recently starred in a short video to promote the Hammer Museum’s "Stories of Almost Everyone" exhibition. Besides being funny and engaging, the collaboration is indicative of a larger trend in advertising. We’ve seen similar work from rag & bone, who brought in heavyweights like Benjamin Millepied to create a beautiful piece of cinematography, and Kate Spade, who introduced TV series-like videos, also featuring an all-star lineup.
In the age of ad blockers and audience fatigue, advertisers need to be savvy about reaching viewers, which is why they’ve turned to branded short films. We’ve heard over and over that attention spans are shrinking but perhaps it’s less about that and more about creating captivating content. Despite being longer-form than traditional ads, branded short films succeed because they serve up content people genuinely want to watch.
Meanwhile, influencer marketing has reached a peak. That’s not to say we think it’s going anywhere anytime soon, but short films are definitely the next wave and they work on so many levels. The videos are art packaged as ads ensuring people are more inclined to watch and less likely to skip through. Branded videos use cinematic tools, like compelling story arcs and targeted casting, to essentially "outsmart" traditional ads while remaining a marketing tool. They even have their own award show, a testament to the power of the medium.
While this new vehicle can sound sneaky, in the end, it’s a win for everyone. If brands can bring us better content (often starring our favorite actors or comedians) while getting their message across, then we’re all for it. Bring on the branded short films.
Photo credits: Søren Astrup Jørgensen(top post) and Liam Seskis (bottom post)