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Long-form Storytelling Brand Intrique

The global changes in traditional viewing patterns have had a resultant impact on the length of commercials.

I’m sure many people will easily identify with the millions of TV watchers for whom a clutter of repetitive 15, 20 and even 30 second commercials, in several commercial breaks, represent an unwanted intrusion and annoying disruption of their viewing pleasure.

YouTube, and on demand viewing resources such as Netflix, AT&T Warner Entertainment, Amazon Prime, Canal Digital, Cox Digital, Disney Plus, AppleTV+, and other multi-screen viewing accesses, along with time-shifting Digital Video Recording, have changed viewer gratification expectations and demands.

The desire for uninterrupted, compelling, and on-demand entertainment by consumers, when and where it suits them, are at an all-time high.

This has resulted in a substantial rise of cinematic, long-from storytelling, or ‘mini-movie’ commercial initiatives that are usually flighted for online or subscription movie channel viewing, rather than conventional TV broadcasting slots.

1. KIA Motors, The Features Film

Advertising Agency: David&Goliath, Los Angeles, USA

Film Director: Ozan Biron

With many theaters closed due to Covid-19, Kia Motors decided on a filmic, long-form, 400-second storytelling commercial for movie-starved consumers.

The story involves a getaway driver and his accomplice, using every automotive feature KIA has to offer to escape a life of crime and take a stash of cash with them.

The Hollywood inspired chase sequences feature eight Kia models: The Forte, Soul, Stinger, Niro EV, Niro HEV, Seltos, Sportage, and Sorento.

The film has also been cleverly filmed for editing into 13 individual 15-second commercials, featuring 8 different soundtrack songs, and in its entirety, brilliantly weaves the brands’ design, technology, capability and safety features into a focused plot line.

2. BMW The Hire Series, The Escape

Film Producers: Anonymous Content Entertainment Company, Culver City, Los Angeles, and New York City, and Geisel Film and Digital Productions, New York, USA.

Film Director: Neill Blomkamp

BMW’s ‘The Hire’ series of eight films starring Clive Owen as ‘The Driver’ was launched in 2001 and motivated an astonishing 100 million views at the time.

In 2017, a revival of the long-form storytelling franchise titled ‘The Escape’ and filmed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, featured a BMW 540i M Sport with Clive Owen reprising his role as ‘The Driver’, alongside co-stars Dakota Fanning, and Jon Bernthal.

Superbly directed, the hugely successful action-packed film, won Best of Show at the ‘One Screen Film Festival’ awards in New York.

BMW North America’s VP of marketing Trudy Hardy, on PRWeek’s online portal commented in 2017 that the value of ‘The Hire’ series films has never been in doubt.

“Everyone now looks back on this as the greatest investment the company ever made. It has exponentially paid off, not only in our brand equity and our brand value, but also sales. We created fans for life.”

3. MINI Cooper Convertible, This Day Forward

Advertising Agency: WCRS, London, UK

Film Director: Joachim Back

Joachim Back’s lauded storytelling expertise comes to the fore in this online ‘mini-movie’ commercial for MINI’s Convertible.

Filmed on location in Miami and the Florida Keys, the story is about Jake who has to decide whether to sell his record label worth millions and retire from the music business, or to listen to what his heart tells him and continue doing what he loves best.

The film depicts him reliving the decision making d-day three times in his mind and each time reveals new details, and implications of his dilemma.

The intriguing filmic journey to the final outcome of his deliberations makes for compelling viewing.

4. Johnnie Walker Blue Label, The Gentleman’s Wager

Advertising Agency: Anomaly, New York, USA

Film Director: Jake Scott

Filmed on location in the British Virgin Islands and London, the commercial stars Jude Law and Giancarlo Giannini as two friends amusing one another in a gentleman’s wager, simply for the sake of their own friendship.

Jude Law declares that he wishes to acquire Giancarlo’s extremely rare, vintage sea craft that was built in 1928 by the renowned Baglietto boat yard in Varazza, Italy, but alas, it’s not for sale.

He has to win the priceless Baglietto creation in a wager that involves a dance routine. Jude consequently embarks on staging a cinematic musical, and delivers a performance of the jazz score by Smith & Elms titled, The Madison Time.

The long-form storytelling, mini-movie, motivated 45 million online views, was shared 120,000 times on social media, and resulted in a 41% increase of Johnnie Walker Blue sales. A remarkable achievement for a premium priced, niche brand.

5. Johnnie Walker Blue Label, The Gentleman’s Wager II

Advertising Agency: Anomaly, New York

Film Director: Jake Scott

Johnnie Walker’s ‘The Gentleman’s Wager’ sequel features Jude Law in a wager that involves a race from Italy to Monaco in Giancarlo Giannini’s classic Delahaye.

The film’s priceless Delahaye 135S vintage racing-car is a Walker heirloom from the 1930s, and to win it Jude has to cross the finish line of Formula 1’s iconic Monaco track by noon the following day.

The cinematic, long-form storytelling commercial also stars Chinese actress Wei Zhao, and cameo appearances of Formula 1 stars Mika Häkkinen and Jenson Button.

The soundtrack features Belgian musician, songwriter, producer, editor and television presenter, Plastic Bertrand’s 1978 international hit single, Ça plane pour moi.

6. Johnnie Walker, The Man Who Walked Around The World

Advertising Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH), London, UK

Copywriter: Justin Moore

Film Director: Jamie Rafn

Filmed in the Scottish Highlands, the long-form storytelling commercial about the origin, heritage and international prominence of the Johnny Walker Whisky brand, with its Striding Man logo by illustrator Tom Browne, stars Scottish and BAFTA award-winning actor, Robert Carlyle.

The six-minute long commercial remarkably, was filmed in a single take with no cuts. The first successful take was ‘take 40’ at the last hour of the last day of filming, and concluded an achievement that many thought would be impossible.

On the ‘BBH-Labs’ website, Creative Director Mick Mahoney elaborated on the film’s production challenges.

“Every director we spoke to told us that it wasn’t possible to do what we wanted. That we would need concealed cuts and so on. Which would still have made a good film, but it’s the undertaking, the commitment, of doing it all in one ‘take’ that makes it.”

“Jamie Rafn was the only director who felt the same. Getting Robert Carlyle to do it then just took it up a gear. He has exactly the screen persona that we wanted. Tough, uncompromising, enigmatic.”

The many award accolades ‘The Man Who Walked Around The World’ received, included the following:

The One Show; ‘Best in Show’
A Cannes Gold Lion
A Gold Andy for ‘Best Web Film Category’
British Television Advertising Gold for ‘Best Corporate Commercial’
BTA Craft Awards; ‘˜Best Performance by an Actor’ for Robert Carlyle

7. Turkish Airlines, The Journey

Advertising Agency: Anomaly, Amsterdam

The Turkish Airline mini-movie ‘The Journey’ by RSA Films was directed by Ridley Scott and superbly edited by Jim Weedon to mark the opening of the prestigious Istanbul Airport as the world’s latest and largest aviation hub with an annual capacity of 200 million passengers.

The commercial also marks Ridley’s return to directing commercials after an 13-year absence.“I decided to go back and click-into advertising because I love the chase and the speed of the job. The fact is that this project went beyond the limitations of traditional advertising, and allowed me the creative freedom to tell the story”.

Istanbul is a powerful backdrop to the visual narrative that brings together the main characters in an exciting and spectacular way, much as Istanbul has done for generations”.

‘The Journey’ follows a cat-and-mouse chase across Istanbul’s iconic landmarks and features Sylvia Hoeks, the Dutch star of The Girl in the Spider’s Web and Blade Runner 2049.

She described the short film as a compelling mystery; “As an audience, you’re chasing that woman with the main character trying to figure out who she is. I think that mystery leads in a sense to ‘go travel’.”