Dumb Ways to do branded content

Dumb Ways to do branded content

Whilst we in Australia are busy making long ads and calling them branded content, the rest of the world is busy making series, shorts and feature films. It is a shame that we seem to be missing both the boat and the point. 

Let’s look at some of the local highlights in branded content over the last couple of years. 

Dumb Ways to Die picked up a Gold Lion in Cannes for branded content. Really it’s a long ad, a really great long ad but a long ad nonetheless. The Ship Song was terrific and also a long ad, this time in music video format. 

Both these examples were fantastic pieces of content but my point is this – we seem to be making lots and lots of long ads but bugger all series and films. You know with character development, story arcs, and layered narrative all that good stuff. Is it time we thought more broadly about what is possible? 

In Australia, we as an advertising and marketing community have tended to stay on safe ground. We stick to what we know, which is making ads. And why not? We know how to do it and have years and years of experience. Plus we have to hand off exactly no creative control to anyone else. Low risk, right? 

And freed from the shackles of 15, 30, or if we were really lucky, 60 seconds, we have made some great stuff. Dumb Ways to Die and The Ship Song again being great examples. 

However whilst we are busy making long ads let’s look at some things happening elsewhere… 

A Short – ‘Desire’ by Jaguar (USA)

‘Desire’ is a 13-minute short film that debuted at Sundance created to promote Jaguar’s F-Type sports car. ‘Desire’ was created by Ridley Scott’s company, stars Emmy Award-winning actor Damian Lewis (Homeland) and is directed by Adam Smith (Doctor Who). ‘Desire’s soundtrack includes none other than indie pop songstress Lana Del Rey. 

Here we have a beautifully crafted short film with great actors, direction and narrative. Anyone that sees ‘Desire’ can’t help but at least want a spin in the F-Type. It sounds expensive doesn’t it? Well, wait for this – the whole thing was done for $US92K. 


A Series  – ‘The Beauty Inside’ by Intel (USA)

The much-celebrated Cannes Grand Prix series that really is great. The series uses metaphor in order to illustrate the product strengths. The basic plot is boy meets girl, girl and boy fall in love but unfortunately boy changes into a completely different body every morning yet he is the same person on the inside. Have a look its worth watching.

‘The Beauty Inside’ is a great idea that has been executed incredibly well and whilst computers are seen organically in the vision it is the narrative that is selling the product. This is such a great demonstration of how it is not necessary to jam your product into the front of every frame to get your message across.

Watch episode 1 here.  

A Feature Film – ‘Love in the End’ by Lacta Chocolate (Greece)

Not only did the brand commission a full-length feature film, they actually asked the public – via a Facebook promotion – to provide the storylines. Based on the idea of ‘unfulfilled love’, Greeks sent in their stories, three of which became the foundation of the film. In this case they then took these dramas and ensured there was a happy end for the protagonists. 

The film debuted in cinemas all over Greece on Valentine’s Day and beat out Hollywood blockbusters including Silver Linings Playbook, Lincoln and Argo, claiming 65% of all ticket sales on that day. 

The 20-minute trailer was seen by 20% of the total population of Greece and the film was ranked third of all films released in Greece last year. Wow. 

Watch the trailer here

Another Feature Film – ‘The Movie Out Here’ by Kokanee Beer (Canada)

A feature film based loosely on the brand story was produced for the Canadian market. Look, it’s not a great flick but it is certainly true to its audience’s interests and features plenty of boobs, beers and bigfoot.

Kokanee is known as ‘the beer out here’ (referencing its Western Canadian roots). They also crowd-sourced much of the films content – from extras via auditions (both online and live) to venues, music and even props. The audience played a big role in helping to produce the film. And those that helped were acknowledged in the longest credit role the world has ever seen. 

Here's the trailer:

So, whilst we are making little more than long ads, people in other parts of the world are doing some pretty amazing stuff. It would seem that we are lagging a bit and, as a result, missing some pretty big opportunities. 

Generally here at home we’re not big on risk and it feels very risky to hard over creative control and final cut to somebody else which is exactly what you have to do when creating films or series. 

However when it really comes down to it the people that we hand this control to are the ones that should have it. Directors, producers, writers – they are the ones that went to film school and have worked their entire lives hungry to entertain people. 

Branded content must always start by being entertaining. Just because a company is footing the bill rather than a network or government body doesn’t suddenly mean we should abandon content's primary goal, which is to entertain. Branded content is merely content with a new sugar daddy. 

Strong and respectful collaborations between incredibly skilled storytellers and creators will lead us to amazing places. We just have to want to go there and want to listen to these people. With open minds. 

Then anything can happen.

Glen Condie is founder and creative director at Wonder.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Would TikTok Be Missed?

Would TikTok Be Missed?

In this opinion piece, Alpha Digital’s head of performance Amir Rezaee outlines the impact to brands of a potential banning of TikTok in Australia The six weeks or so since TikTok announced its local Australian office has been a busy period. Aiming to make a similar impression on SMBs as it has on its 1.6m […]

NextMedia’s frankie And Gardening Australia Magazines Report “Surge In Sales”

NextMedia’s frankie And Gardening Australia Magazines Report “Surge In Sales”

Amid the sadness of magazine closures, the challenges of COVID-19, and industry concern as companies merge or change hands, some magazines are thriving. NextMedia titles such as the much-loved frankie and ABC Gardening Australia magazine have been enjoying a surge in sales during this period of home isolation. Gardening Australia retail sales have been robust […]

Mag Closures & The New Landscape For Earned Media

Mag Closures & The New Landscape For Earned Media

In this guest post, MINT’s publicity director, Nathan McIlroy (pictured below), explores the new norm for Australian media and says Bauer’s/Mercury Capital’s recent mag closures should be viewed as an exciting opportunity for the brave… Last week’s announcement that new owners Mercury Capital were to permanently close eight of Bauer Media’s magazines sent shockwaves through […]

Jamie Whincup And A Host Of Aussie Personalities Star In Club Marine Series

Jamie Whincup And A Host Of Aussie Personalities Star In Club Marine Series

In a first for the Australian insurance market, Club Marine, Australia’s largest provider of boat and pleasure-craft insurance, has released a new series of videos to help explain insurance cover. With a few familiar Aussie personalities to help out, Club Marine is helping its members, as well as the broader boating community, to understand the […]

KitKat Partners With R U OK?

KitKat Partners With R U OK?

No one enjoys a chocolate finger for morning tea like the B&T office. On other occasions we might even have a KitKat.

oOh! Launches The Junkee Network

oOh! Launches The Junkee Network

Junkee Media and parent company oOh!media have launched a powerful new way to reach young Australians – the Junkee Network. Combining Junkee Media’s content platforms with oOh!’s leading Out of Home assets in venues and universities across the country, the Junkee Network will be the largest and most influential youth content network in the country. […]

Research Reveals Aussie Small Businesses Upping Digital Marketing Spend

Research Reveals Aussie Small Businesses Upping Digital Marketing Spend

Australian small business owners are turning to skilled local freelancers and upping their digital marketing spend as they move online to connect with customers and keep cash flow positive. The Federal Government’s pandemic response has earned a tick from small business owners as have those of New South Wales and Queensland, but one in three […]

Melbourne, Australia - August 6, 2015: A woman walks past an Optus store on Bourke St. Optus is the second largest telecommunications company in Australia.

Optus Assistant Chatbot Surpasses 2 Million Conversations

In the last 12 months, Optus’ AI Assistant Chatbot has surpassed two million conversations, with 1 in 6 Optus customers having their queries resolved immediately, providing a seamless experience without needing to speak to a person. Optus Assistant greets every customer that comes through My Optus App Messaging and its Web Messaging service with on average […]