Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Role of the Short Film in Marketing

This week in class we discussed the use of short films as part of emerging media. At first I thought not many companies utilized this form of branded media entertainment however after seeing all the examples that my classmates came up with, it has me realizing that short films are being used much more than I realized.

Based on our Lesson 6 in class, a short film is characterized as follows:
- Less than forty-five minutes in length.
- Contains elements of a hero who wants something, and takes action, but meets conflict, which leads to a climax and finally, a resolution.
- The characteristics of a good short film are focus, freshness, simplicity, conflict and it must appear to be a film rather than an advertisement.

Myself and each of my classmates had to find and review a short film used for marketing purposes this week. I noticed that the difference between the really intriguing short films and those that were just ok was that the good ones encompassed all of the characteristics mentioned above. Even when some of the films did a good job on the majority of the characteristics but were weak on one (particularly freshness), it significantly reduced the effectiveness of the short film.

So where does this position short films in the marketing mix?

• First of all, they are probably limited for use by very large companies with large budgets. The use of a short film by a small business is probably not realistic.

• The challenge for branded short films is how to measure the results. As an article in the New York Times by Nat Ives states “One big unanswered question is how much marketing money could eventually be diverted from traditional campaigns into branded films. While measuring the return on traditional advertising expenditures is difficult, gauging the impact of branded entertainment is even harder, marketers said. ''The measure becomes the buzz,'' said Anjali Lewis, vice president for marketing at DKNY, which is owned by LVMH Mo√ęt Hennessy Louis Vuitton. ''Return on investment in terms of how much clothing we sell is going to be hard to measure,'' she added. ''It's really going to be about how many people are talking about DKNY.'' (Ives).

• I think short films are better for promoting products that have an emotional appeal to them. Products such as automobiles and clothing are good products for short films because they have an emotional component to them that can be tied in well with a short film.

•Another challenge of the short film is that it has to balance entertainment with selling power. As Ives points out “The motivation to entertain consumers, rather than persuade them through traditional advertising, stems from a changing media landscape in which consumers increasingly avoid, tune out or fast-forward through marketing messages. For my marketing purposes the short film is a hybrid advertisement, infomercial, movie and web site (if published online). It has to take the best of all of these types of media and roll them into one cohesive program that first and foremost entertains and then influences the customer through some benefit for the brand.

I think the short film is a good tool for the right company and the right product if produced correctly, however I think there is a lot of room for error with a short film and if you don’t know what you’re doing you might want to stay away from it in your marketing plan.

If you want to see a really good short film check out the link below, which is a short film from Mercedes-Benz that was brought to my attention by a classmate (Stephanie). It was the best one I saw from those that my classmates provided this week. It has a great blend of entertainment and advertising value.

- Patrick


Lesson 6. IMC 619. West Virginia University.

Ives, Nat. Retrieved on November 24, 2008 from

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