Branded content: 100% proof


This blog was in danger of being derailed by Ron Burgundy quotes (addictive), so let’s start with one: ‘I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly...’

Throughout the first Anchorman film Burgundy endorses his favourite drink and such is his association with the tipple that Paramount Pictures released an official scotch dedicated to him alongside the new film. Rumours that the packaging will be a “glass case of emotion” are not yet confirmed.

Consider the fact that it is impossible to order a vodka martini, shaken, not stirred without attempting a Bond impression and Withnail’s close relationship with red wine (‘We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!’) and we have a powerful connection between alcohol and film.

Alcohol brands have hardly been slow to recognize and cement this relationship, with several sponsorships and tie-ups dating back to the last century. 1998 anyway was the beginning of Stella Artois’ association with film and in 2014 they still support world-class film festivals like Cannes and Sundance and claim to ‘indulge in every detail of film’. But of course the world has changed a little in the last 15 years and that has allowed Stella Artois and friends to move from being mere spectators to creators where they can prove their love of film through actions not just words.

Grolsch claims it has been driven by creativity, innovation and great ideas since 1615, which is why, today, it has created Grolsch Film Works, a global initiative whose ambition is to represent the true spirit, inspiration and talent behind the independent film industry. They have been true to their word and made a feature length film ‘The Fourth Dimension’ starring Val Kilmer a year ago, a collaboration by three filmmakers who each offer up their vision of this fourth dimension of existence. More recently they released the quietly contemplative 20 minute ‘Independence’ by filmmaker David Altobelli as part of their ongoing shorts series.

Bombay Sapphire has come up with a brilliant way of drawing in talented film makers to create content for them in the shape of the Imagination Series. They launched a script at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012 and invited people to imagine the script’s characters, locations and events in any way they wished. The entries came in thick and fast from 34 countries around the world and the diverse and fascinating winners' films were produced and premiered at the festival in 2013. The second year's winners are due to premiere at the festival this April.

Heineken and Carlsberg have taken a different approach and have contrived to have their target audience feature in their films rather than make them.

Heineken Dropped takes volunteers into their own worst nightmare scenario and leaves them there with only their wits to get them home. The films are set in one of the best YouTube channel experiences I've seen, complete with interactive 'voyages' and witty infographics. That said, in this world of excessive choice, I felt a little short changed by a mere five characters to choose from. Am I being greedy? The conceit is fun and there is plenty of staging and intervention to help the amateur participants provide an engaging experience but the overall effect felt a bit more ‘filmed stunt’ than truly gripping content in its own right.

Carlsberg’s friendship test was right on strategy and entertaining for all apart from the unsuspecting participants, woken at 3am by a friend in ‘deep trouble’, who required them to set off into the theatrically threatening night with €300 in used notes to save the day.

It is possible that the sub category of ‘drop/rescue your mates in/from nightmare scenario’ is relatively well served at the moment. However, it is clear that there is much that alcohol brands can do with film content to build on their heritage of finding creative ways to engage and connect with their audiences.

I’d like to end on one of our favourite pieces of booze content, an instructive little film from Mirabeau Wines. In 50 seconds they have managed to impart a lesson that could change your life, or at least your evening: that of how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. 3 million+ people seem to agree. This small vineyard in rural Provence has made a number of watchable films that will likely go down a treat with the wine buffs and tackle such meaty subjects as ‘Should Burgundy wines be decanted?’.

Which brings me full circle.

You stay classy, San Diego. I'm Ron Burgundy? (Watch this clip to the end and you have the inspiration for the name of the new scotch).

Kath Hipwell, Planning Director.