I love a great example of a simple but clever idea, well-executed, that addresses a difficult brief delicately employing the nuances of a clever concept. I found this one while seeking out new creative talent.
Watch this for 60 seconds: “Reign Of Ian” – Director: Grant De Sousa for Sterkinekor Theatres.
A 60-second ad or short-form commercial entertainment?
What’s the difference? In the world of content today, an ad is a piece of content deliberately created and placed to bring awareness to a targeted audience of a product and its value proposition, with an overt invitation to purchase or an experience. Pure retail ads have a message I identify as ‘hurry, hurry, quick, quick, buy now!’. Ads are seldom entertaining. Hence they’re often skipped over and avoided by the target audience, and they’re rarely shared or go viral.
Commercial entertainment is communication crafted to achieve commercial objectives through content that engages the viewer voluntarily because it entertains as it informs. It can take any form or duration. We can make it to fit traditional ad inventory spots, commission as documentary, short or long-form, one-off, sequential or even feature-length movie format. Its format is a vehicle; its purpose is the message.
Brand stewards are the emergent content benefactors.
Brand stewards know their product and marketplace, and they know what values and characteristics they want their brand to resonate. They spend their days (and nights likely) thinking about the product, price, place, promotion and psychology of their target market.
With all that on their mind and on their plate, they are not necessarily the same people who know how to orchestrate and deliver the complex combination of strategic commercial direction and creativity required to communicate that effectively in the production of content.
Brand values and characteristics, positioning, subject relevance and appeal to audience, format, placement, reach, timing, repetition, engagement, measurement, and digital asset management. Throw in storytelling, talent, production skills, copyright, license, and distribution, and we begin to understand the challenge of the undertaking.
Brands need a conductor, an event manager, an advocate – someone who knows both sides of the strategic and creative coin, to ensure the commercial objectives are not compromised for creativity.
Producers, program managers, and brand integrators need a conductor, an event manager, an advocate – someone who knows both sides of the strategic and creative coin, to ensure the creative is not compromised for heavy-handed commercial directives (however well-intentioned).
Brands are increasingly becoming the benefactors of content as they build a more genuine relationship with their specific target customers, through the content they create and participate with. The content they produce to communicate with their customers will be valued by their customers for the fact that it demonstrates shared values.
People are willing to demonstrate the strength of their principled conviction by how and where they spend. Research released in 2017 by Nielsen Cataline Solutions suggested advertising creative accounts for approximately half (47%) of the sales impact. In a report by The Corporate Social Mind in June 2020, 60% of Americans want corporations they buy from, to take a stand on social issues, and 50% of them often research them to see what their response is.
So if brands can get their creative to skillfully portray their social convictions, that could make for compelling viewing and audience engagement… But what would that look like?
What’s so good about this example?
Underestimating what’s involved in creating great commercial entertainment is why it’s easy to watch this piece without appreciating what has been achieved in an ad that runs for just one minute. Therein lies one of its attributes – it skillfully uses entertainment to achieve its commercial aim.
While many people have been spared office interaction with ‘Ian’ during the pandemic, the notion of a colleague empowered by knowledge and control of resources, lording the distribution of his ‘movie loot’ is a useful story vehicle. I applaud the creative’s strategic recognition and inspired use of a cultural observation to drive and incentivise the desired behaviour.
There’s a subtle delivery of the message balancing a negative, relatable scenario with the positive, desired, and attainable alternative. Key pain points were dextrously woven in, such as “one too many pixelated mpegs” which reinforced the downside of not seeing films in their ideal and legal setting. The Lord Of The Rings-inspired set design also impressive in some scenes, inspiring Catherine Martin-style economies.
Casting was inclusive and diverse, and the nuances in the story were carried and conveyed convincingly by the talent of the lead actor. At the same time, the voice of the narrator throughout gave the piece authority and credibility, compelling the viewer’s attention from the start and maintaining it.
Wouldn’t we all like to see more bums on seats in cinemas just so the experience is not taken from us, in the way drive-ins were made almost extinct? This ad reignites our passion and rationale for the experience, and I think it uses a great plotline and storytelling technique to do just that.
In execution, the viewer is taken on a journey through storytelling, delivered through a dialogue that unfolded with sensitivity to timing, pairing the emotion demonstrated by the players. While the lead and narration are the cornerstones of the piece, the director gives the depth of meaning of the emotions he wants us to relate to through the supporting cast, representing the target market. Their relatability is building the value proposition of the ultimate alternative solution and motivational message.
The production values are found mainly in culturally relevant strategic analogy, casting, and creative storytelling. But that’s the prime concern of viewers today – story and authenticity.
It’s only a minute in duration, but when we know what we’re looking at, the Oscars seem like a suitable reward for those who get it right a feature-length movie.
As I have purely stumbled upon this piece in my search for creative talent, I don’t know how much it cost to produce, how the quality casting was engaged, where they placed the ad or its effect on the commercial goal of getting more bums on seats. I do, however, recognise the creative talent and astute commercial sensibilities behind its creation, and I applaud it.
I hope they gave the director the brief to create more ads in a series, and I hope you also enjoyed this example of commercial entertainment. To learn more about commercial entertainment and its making to suit your objectives, contact Wanted Consulting – Reward Offered.