Why Marketers Need to Invest in Authentic Long-Form Storytelling

06 / 02 / 2017

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*Saville’s Executive Producer Rupert Maconick discusses how socially-conscious films and documentaries can make a big impact*

Corporate responsibility is an essential part of good business. Today, all types of brands are looking for new ways to promote their socially-conscious beliefs and practices.

Two commendable examples from earlier this year come to mind. In January, when an executive order suddenly clamped down our borders, Lyft donated $1 million to the ACLU, and Airbnb offered free housing to refugees who were stuck in limbo. As a result, both companies stirred up a wealth of positive PR.

The reason why these gestures are so successful is because consumers overwhelmingly support brands that do good. This is especially true of millennials. According to a recent Brookings report, roughly 90 percent of young people favor brands that are committed to good causes.

The next step for brands like Lyft and Airbnb is to connect their mission to strong narratives. And today, film and television are the most impactful narratives we have. In fact, right now there is no format more popular and cost-effective than the social issue documentary.

However, not any old attempt at positive messaging is going to fly with consumers. Today’s audiences demand authenticity and are well-equipped to sniff out fraud. As we saw with Pepsi, brands that try to co-opt serious issues are in for a world of hurt and no small amount of ridicule.

The key to avoiding a PR disaster like the recent Pepsi ad is authentic storytelling.

Instead of paying for inauthentic digital ads, brands like Pepsi could invest the same amount of money in a feature-length documentary that authentically explores an issue of their choice, whether it’s Black Lives Matter, immigration, or the global refugee crisis. To further support their cause, brands can then donate to the ACLU or other relevant organizations.

Continue reading on Adweek.

Why we need sponsored entertainment, not branded content

05 / 17 / 2017

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Instead of making short form films and buying likes, more brands should consider investing in sponsored entertainment that people will pay to watch, writes the producer of Werner Herzog’s “Lo and Behold.”

As the advertising world moves away from traditional TV campaigns, more and more brands are turning to branded content to connect with consumers. But for all the supposed difference between branded content and traditional ads, most brands approach both in the exact same way.

Too many brands see branded content as an excuse to make long, dull advertisements. Then, stuck as they are with a boring product, brands spend substantial amounts of money on a media buy to support these long ads. Success is measured by likes and shares. But that’s not real success; the likes have simply been bought.

Supporting branded content with a media buy is a deeply flawed approach. It’s the equivalent of a movie studio buying tickets to its own film to prove box office success.

Fortunately, there is a much more effective way to engage consumers and make an impact. For brands interested in a distribution strategy that does not require a prohibitively expensive media buy, there is sponsored entertainment.

Sponsored entertainment is not new. Many of the most successful film franchises—Lego and Marvel for example—are pieces of sponsored entertainment. Their purpose is to guide consumer interest toward related toys and other merchandise. In the words of George Lucas, “all the money is in the action figures.”

The success of films like “The Lego Batman Movie” and “Logan” should have us advertisers asking a question. Why not skip the media buy altogether and put those dollars into entertainment we can sell?

Continue reading on Campaign Live.

Advertisers! Stop Making Long, Boring Ads Called Branded Content

04 / 27 / 2017

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Op-ed by Saville’s Executive Producer Rupert Maconick.

With DVRs, binge-watching, and other commercial-free viewing opportunities, consumers aren’t watching traditional ads like they used to.

In response, many brands are starting new in-house agencies to produce fresh, innovative work in the form of branded content. But for all the supposed difference between branded content and traditional ads, most brands approach both in the exact same way.

Too many brands see branded content as an excuse to make long, dull advertisements. Then, stuck as they are with a boring product, brands spend substantial amounts of money on a media buy to support these long ads. Success is measured by likes and shares. But that’s not real success; the likes have simply been bought.

Supporting branded content with a media buy is a deeply flawed approach. It’s the equivalent of a movie studio buying tickets to its own film to prove box office success.

Worse than that, branded content doesn’t even solve the issue we’ve asked it to solve. Fewer and fewer people are watching ads. So why are we spending time and money making even longer ones? The advertising world’s preoccupation with branded content is a bit like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Fortunately, there is a much more effective way to engage consumers and make an impact. For brands interested in a distribution strategy that does not require a prohibitively expensive media buy, there is sponsored entertainment.

Continue reading on Brandstorytelling.tv.

 

Is Branded Content Over—Or Has it Just Begun?

04 / 24 / 2017
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Here’s how you can jump ahead of the curve when partnering with a brand on your project.

It’s the best time ever to be a filmmaker. This is true for many reasons, and while the ability to have a brand come on to your production may not seem like one of the most liberating reasons, it can sure as hell help you put together a project.

Why? Brands can barely get eyeballs on TV ads. And you can’t fool anyone with an ad disguised as an online video anymore. To combat this, companies are now giving filmmakers creative control over projects they have commissioned. If a company has a core idea for something they want to advertise, they oftentimes give the director license to explore options as to how to execute.

As Rupert Maconick explained in a panel at SXSW 2017 called The New Hollywood: Branding a Funded Film, “Netflix came along, and no one’s watching the ads. So what are brands going to do? They create lots of opportunities. It’s those roughly 600 million dollars spent monthly around the world, just [funneled] into more entertaining stuff.”

The panel also featured Jody Raida, Director of Branded Entertainment at McGarryBowen, Martin Campbell, director of Casino Royale, and Tom Garzili of Brand USA. Below, we answer some key questions as to how the partnership between brand and filmmaker goes down.

Continue reading on No Film School.

10 Essential Werner Herzog Movies, From Divine Wrath to Gonzo Docs

03 / 27 / 2017

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A quick what-you-need-to-see primer on the legendary German filmmaker’s work, from crazed conquistadors to 3-D cave tours.

For nearly 55 years, he’s chronicled the weird, the wild and the obsessed … and with two new films coming out in April (Queen of the Desert, starring Nicole Kidman and James Franco; and Salt and Fire, featuring Michael Shannon and a supervolcano) and having just taught a filmmaking seminar in Cuba, Werner Herzog is showing no signs of slowing down. Over the course of a long, storied career – either 70 or 78 movies, not even Herzog knows for sure – the German filmmaker has explored the notion of “how far is too far?” in both fictional features and way-stranger-than-fiction documentaries. In honor of Erik Hedegaard’s profile of Herzog, and for those who simply know the director as the guy who lent his Teutonic baritone to both foul-mouthed children’s books and The Simpsons, we’ve put together a quick Herzog 101 primer: 10 essential movies that exemplify the genius and the madness that characterizes what’s still one of the most impressive filmographies in modern cinematic history.

Continue reading on Rolling Stone.

Chase’s New Campaign Explores A Wonderfully Delicious Doughnut Creation

03 / 07 / 2017

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Instagram foodies may be familiar with a doughnut called The Ripple, available at the New York-based store Doughnut Plant. It’s a doughnut, within a doughnut, within a doughnut created by the store’s founder, Mark Isreal.

What people may not know about the doughnut is Isreal brought the creation to life mainly thanks to points he collected through Chase.

A new campaign from Chase for Business, by Droga5, aims to highlight how the small business owner was able to use his points, collected through purchases made using Chase’s Ink business preferred card, to bring his latest creation to life.

“You have to keep innovating,” Isreal says in the ad. “I wanted to make this new kind of doughnut, but creating something new is expensive.”

Using some 80,000 points, Isreal was able to fund his latest innovation—The Ripple—and buy everything he needed to make the donuts including flour, milk and butter. The Chase card also allowed Isreal to design his own tools and equipment to make the new doughnut creations.

After its debut late last year, The Ripple doughnut quickly became one of the most popular desserts for New Yorkers and visitors to try out. Zagat even named Doughnut Plant’s creation as one of the 25 essential dishes to try in New York.

Continue reading article on Adweek.

Saville’s Rupert Maconick claims everything is awesome & reflects on the industry’s fast pace of change

12 / 27 / 2016

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Rupert Maconick is adamant that advertising as we traditionally know it is dead, or at least is in a permanent state of atrophy. No one, he posits, watches adverts anymore, not if they can help it. Rather, he clarifies, no one watches traditional TV commercials anymore. “If it wasn’t your job,” he asks, “would you? If, at home, you have the ability to skip through them, do you? Of course you do.” Maconick, the founder of LA-based production company Saville Productions, has a habit of answering questions that he asks for you, but the thing is, those answers are generally right.

Maconick’s company actually defined as as an entertainment rather than a production company, was set up in 1996, a few years after this native Brit had crossed the Atlantic. Before moving to America, Maconick worked in a commercials production house in the UK. In the States, he completed a master’s in film business at the University of Southern California before reading scripts for a living at Paramount and William Morris. “But it can be demoralizing,” explains Maconick, “because most screenplays don’t get made. The good news about the advertising business is brands need to sell products every quarter and so they need to constantly market and produce promotional films.”

Continue reading on Shots.

Lo and Behold lands on Esquire’s list of best non-fiction films of the year!

12 / 27 / 2016

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The 10 Best Documentaries of 2016 That Are Trying to Change the World

While high-profile dramas continue to dominate the ongoing award season, let us not forget the many phenomenal documentaries that were bestowed upon us over the past twelve months. Covering an extensive range of subject matter, from notorious criminal cases and political scandals to American race relations and music concerts, the cream of this year’s non-fiction crop cast an incisive eye on compelling people and unforgettable events, in the process revealing underling truths about the way in which we view ourselves, the world, and those with whom we share it. Upsetting, enraging and exciting, they were—no matter the genre—as good as anything projected on a big screen in 2016.

5. Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World

There may be no documentarian more enthralled and terrified by the world’s vast, expansive wonders than Werner Herzog, whose non-fiction cinema consistently investigates the far reaches of the planet and the human spirit. For his latest gem, the director casts his gaze on a virtual space—the Internet—to provide an episodic study of the ways in which we benefit from, and may yet fall victim to, interconnectivity. Far from simply a “The Sky is Falling!” doomsday proclamation, however, Herzog’s film is amazed by the innovation that we now take for granted (such as the Internet itself, of which no sci-fi writer ever conceived). Nonetheless, there’s also dread here, spawned by the realization that our dawning digitized paradigm is reconfiguring (if not outright warping) our emotional, social, and moral standards. Caught between celebration and condemnation, it’s a thoughtful consideration of the implications of our new world order.

View the complete film list on Esquire.

Filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel talks about his Oscar short-listed documentary on the Aleppo conflict, ‘The White Helmets.’

12 / 19 / 2016

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The world looked on in horror this week as an attempt to evacuate civilians out of the war-torn city in eastern Aleppo was halted. The four-year conflict between the Syrian Army and rebels forces have seen thousands die, with many still trapped in the rubble-filled city.

The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets — a group of volunteer rescue workers that rush in after attacks to try and save people amid the ruins — have responded to the humanitarian crisis. And their efforts are the subject of the short documentary The White Helmets, which is one of the 10 short docs that have made the shortlist for Oscar consideration.

The film, currently available on Netflix, was directed by Orlando von Einsiedel and produced by Joanna Natasegara, who both were Oscar-nominated for their 2015 documentary feature Virunga. They originally expected their new film would also be a feature-length documentary, but then a sense of urgency took over and they opted to move forward more quickly with a short film.

The Hollywood Reporter talked to von Einsiedel and Natasegara about the risks in making the film, their experiences with the White Helmets (“these are people like us”) and the impact of repetitive news coverage (“You start to lose empathy for the situation”).

Continue reading on The Hollywood Reporter.

Werner Herzog’s Lo and Behold wins the Gold for Shots Branded Entertainment of the Year!

11 / 14 / 2016

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Congrats to Werner Herzog and Pereira & O’Dell New York for winning the Gold for Shots Branded Entertainment of the Year: One-Off Project. Produced by Saville Productions, Lo and Behold was commissioned by Netscout and features interviews from some of the most influential minds of the modern Internet era.

View the Shots Awards 2016 Winners.