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How Long-Form Content Is Helping Brands Tell Their Stories
“This cannot be real!” gasped Twitter collectively when KFC released the new trailer for A Recipe For Seduction, the KFC mini-movie in which Mario Lopez plays the Colonel. According to KFC, “Colonel Sanders knew a secret recipe could bring life or death, but he never knew it could bring love.” Judging by Twitter’s reaction, neither did most of America.
After airing December 13, the reviews rolled in, noting the “movie” was low on plot but high on strategically placed plates of delicious looking fried chicken. Whether a white-goateed Mario Lopez actually sells any chicken remains to be seen, but KFC isn’t the first brand to use long-form content, like a mini-movie or commercial series, as part of an advertising strategy.
Miu Miu: Women Directors Tell Women’s Stories For The High Fashion Line
Fashion brands have often been ahead of the curve when it comes to long-form branded entertainment, with even the late iconic designer Karl Lagerfeld directing an extended spot for Chanel. Miu Miu took the concept a step further with a series of short films that launched in 2011. Women’s Tales now includes 20 installations, often by directors as well-known as Ava Duvernay, with the most recent spot reflecting on 2020 and the challenges the year presented. The directors are given free reign, except for the requirement that the actors wear Miu Miu fashions, and the spots go far beyond just selling clothes. Women’s Tales offers a view of women’s lives that fashion might often overlook, while also embracing the auteurship that is such an intrinsic part of fashion design.
“We must be a digital, modern brand,” said Benedetta Petruzzo, general manager of Miu Miu, newly hired in February just as the pandemic was escalating and fashion had to reimagine how to reach consumers. Petruzzo recently “touted triple-digit growth in Miu Miu’s ecommerce business” with the brand chief emphasizing the importance of continuing to center women, particularly the quirky, devoted Miu Miu shopper, in everything they do. “The Miu Miu women are plural: they are a community, a multitude of women who recognize themselves in their own individuality,” said Petruzzo, adding, “[Women’s] Tales remain very important. The project conveys a very powerful message on being a woman in the contemporary era, exploring with an emancipated perspective the subjects of vanity and femininity, and that fashion can be a tool to empower women.”
French Kiss: Marriott’s Answer To French Cinema
Whether traveling for business or pleasure, many people swoon when Paris is the next stop on the map. But, sometimes work takes over and leaving the hotel proves more difficult than anticipated. That’s the premise behind French Kiss, a mini-film from Marriott that tells the story of Ethan, who’s been too busy preparing for his upcoming conference to leave Marriott Champs Elysees and explore the city of lights. When Ethan loses his computer and ventures out, he meets Margaux, and his Parisian adventure begins. French Kiss highlights the Marriott property along with must-see spots in Paris, while incorporating fanciful magical realism, and, of course, the lovely perks and benefits of the hotel itself.
According to David Beebe, former vice president of creative & content at Marriott International, the 2015 mini-movie was “watched more than 6 million times on YouTube, but more than 80% of viewers sat through the 24-minute film in its entirety.” Adding, “the film also put ‘heads in beds,’ creating revenue for the hotel in which it was shot — a hotel that became a character, of sorts, in the film.” Marriott has continued to play with long-form content, including a nearly five-minute long spot, The Other End Of The Earth, narrated by actress Diane Lane in 2018. The extended commercial features quotes from journalist and adventurer Nellie Bly, and was made in conjunction with promotions for Ritz-Carlton Reserve, which offers highly personalized, exotic vacations.
Patagonia: Documentary-Style Mini-Movie Promotes Brand Purpose
Patagonia has been a purpose-driven brand since its inception nearly 50 years ago, focused on how to thoughtfully and sustainably interact with the environment. Worn Wear: A Film About The Stories We Wear, a mini-documentary released by the brand in 2013, espouses the brand’s founding principles while promoting Worn Wear, a hub on Patagonia that encourages Patagonia shoppers to “repair, share and recycle your gear.” The 27-minute mini-documentary from Patagonia features several Patagonia customers discussing how they have used and reused their favorite Patagonia clothing items. From the perfect beanie to long underwear, some of the items included in the long-form spot have been used thousands of times over decades.
The brand has continued to release short Worn Wear Stories as follow-up to the original campaign. For Patagonia, highlighting their brand mission has always been an integral part of attracting customers, building brand integrity and driving sales, and the Worn Wear spots support that ongoing strategy.
Although some might assume that Millennials and Gen Z aren’t interested in long-form content, when so much of social media is geared toward quick intakes of information, younger consumers are actually looking for brands that have points of view and that want to connect with consumers in ways that feel more authentic and less promotional. Regardless of audience segment, advertisers shouldn’t shy away from long-form, creative ideas that align with the brand message and advertising objectives.
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