Falling into Branded Video Storytelling

Adrian Gill is a creative advisor for big brands and some smaller up and coming ones as well. After working at Puma for 10 years, including being the Vice President of their Global Footwear Division (a $1.8B business), he struck out on his own to be a brand consultant. But fate put an independent filmmaker in his path, and now he’s helping create branded entertainment. In 2008, a student filmmaker named Zachary Treitz knocked on Adrian’s door and asked to use his house as a set. Adrian said sure, thinking it would be two guys with a camera for a day. Instead, it was 15-hour days for two weeks in a row, lighting equipment, camera equipment, a whole film crew — Adrian was a displaced person in his own home for hours at a time. Many people outside the film world might find this troublesome, but Adrian was fascinated. “I gained a new perspective on storytelling, a very complimentary one. I’m usually a verbal creative working in the product world. This was something different for me, more visual, less verbal, and it just clicked.” Two years later, Zach approached Adrian with another project. The filmmaker asked for funding and creative help on his next film, and Adrian jumped in. A few months later, on Thanksgiving day, the phone rang. Zach was on the phone asking Adrian how he felt about taking a trip to Utah in January…the film had made it to Sundance 2011. Over the course of the year they went to 20 festivals, the film won multiple awards, and it even got picked up for programming with Canal+ in Europe. This all lead to an opportunity to do some work (in combination with an agency) for VMWare, and they did six commercials for them last year. VMWare is a technology firm in Silicon Valley, and they wanted to tell their technology story in a different way. Check out their branded version of “It’s a Wonderful Life Job”: Adrian is hooked on telling brands’ stories as told through the lens of independent filmmakers in mini short film format. “There is currently a breakdown between the brand story, artistic conceptualization and the consumer.” Through the typical agency process, with dozens of script iterations and a committee-style process involving marketers, creatives, legal, and executives, the authenticity of the story gets lost. “The best brand marketing happens when the original spirit of a brand remains intact. In the end, the consumers will gravitate towards the most authentic story.”

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