Using film to promote a new product

three portrait photos of model demoing product

Recently we made a suite of films for a new range of luxury Espadrilles called “Zaccys”. This was both an interesting set of films to make and as a film-maker a relatively exiting thing to do as it involved filming in more than one country, interviews, still photography and multiple sequences with 4 different types of camera.

Taking a step back, let’s look at how film can support a new product:

Showing the product. Show the different designs of the product from different angles and in different settings and combinations.

Building a connection with an audience of potential customers. Showing and telling, in a human way, how the idea for the product came about, the brand itself, its ethos and most important, the person behind it, so that trust can develop and grow.

five thumbnails of model demoing the product in context

In the case of Zaccys, when its founder Meg Cope approached us about making some films, it was very easy to exchange ideas and see what was possible with the time and resources available. We were particularly efficient here in that we both identified subject areas for short films that would not only help promote the Zaccys brand but be able to inform people about the production process in an interesting way.

Meg was very effective in sorting out what she required from each film, so when it came to the shoot in Spain, the process was one of the most efficient that we have conducted in several years.

The end result was a suite of 4 films, each with duration of about 2 minutes. The films showed documentary footage and fashion photography as well as interviews to take us on a journey around the different types of shoes.

Stepping back once more to the advantages of film, one can see other elements where film excels, e.g. comparing to product feature lists and user benefit lists alone. Naturally as a film-making company, we may be somewhat biased here, but what would you see most important when coming to promote a new product?

The right length for a film?

How long is a piece of string?

How long?

“How long is left?” is the question that everyone asks when they don’t know where they are going.

It is the sort of question a prospective client might ask themselves when waiting for a film to finish, if they do not want to go to the end of the journey or are possibly not excited by the pay off at the end. The irony here is that the film-maker has spent a much longer period in the planning and making of the film before anyone even views it.

One of the main concerns of a film-maker and storyteller is to use the time given by others efficiently and respectfully. In a world where there is probably more video uploaded in a day than a single person could view in their lifetime, it is important that the film-maker sees that the “exchange” of information & entertainment with the viewer is a good one. The message must be worth their journey time. However, one can look at the metrics on a site like Vimeo to see how many people watch a film through to the end and it is a lot less than one would expect or like.

But how does one know how long a film should be?

Recently we have made several short films in areas ranging from being informative and educational to informative and marketing driven. The common element among these films has been the need to get information across in a way that makes both sense and impact. The answer for “how long” is in the film architecture, the planning for purpose.

In the case of these short films, the purpose has been to contain a story which joins information and ideas to inform the viewer, with the aim of educating them or influencing them to do something like buy a pair of shoes or go for medical examination. Just as some physical architectural designs are better suited for certain purposes e.g. a house vs. a warehouse, so it is with film architectures. They are all specific for what they are meant to contain.

So the answer to the “How long?” question is …… it depends.

The right ingredients for a strong film

Mystery food ingredient for a strong film

It is relatively easy to make a competent film nowadays.The editing process is more accessible on a computer and the film itself can be seen in all manner of ways, the internet being the latest big arena for this.

The word arena is deliberately used here, because a big issue for film-makers and clients is that the viewers should keep paying attention to a film once they have started watching it. Good story telling should hold the attention of the person receiving the story, but this means joining the dots of languages and ideas so that those that experience it, absorb it as part of their own relation to the world.

The point of a story is to move information from mind to mind and indeed, to build a sort of collective mind at the time of watching a film or engaging in a story. There is an analogy here between the way the body needs a balanced food intake and the mind needing to process different types of information to develop and stay healthy. Stories contain such stuff.   The right quantity, quality and rhythm of story elements are essential. Too much of one element will overload someone’s mind like too much of one type of food will to the body e.g. overly loud music in a film will distract from the message whereas no music may cause the story to drag.

A film story itself can be thought of as being made of these different elements:

  • Aim- the overall goal of the film making
  • Purpose – the specific task addressed in the film
  • Idea – the one thing you wish to transfer successfully into the mind of the viewer
  • Architecture – the building blocks and construction of the film elements
  • Information – content specific items to address
  • Rhythm – the overall flow in time of story elements

So, to be able to connect the “idea” with the minds of the audience of a film, the film-maker has to have a great understanding of how these elements will be brought to bear for the specific film in question. This also means that the client commissioner is an essential part of the process to frame these elements: the aim, purpose, needed information & big idea. The film-maker will deal with developing the architecture and then making the film.

I will feature in another blog an example of how I worked with a client to gain this understanding and then went on to construct the architecture for a successful film making project.