In a perfect showcase of what makes SXSW such an exciting festival, the panel on Branded Documentaries brought together marketers, filmmakers, and agencies to discuss the growing importance of content to drive the bottom line. Production house, Flow Nonfiction, P&G (client), and PR shop, DeVries demonstrated their “micro-film” for brand Downy can meet business objectives, tell authentic stories and enhance the reputation of the brand in this new format.

The lessons learned in the development of the doc can easily be reapplied.

1. Develop branded content as part of a larger program 2. Ensure the micro-film is tied to the brand and demonstrates it’s purpose 3. Don’t test but surround the film with measurable paid and earned media 4. Integrate the film into the channel that drives your goals, social media for conversations 5. Amplify and support content in blogger relations using the content as discussion

In the works at P&G are more films for Tide and Pantene. Though these shorts are arguably long form content, its worth noting that serializing content in webisodes may prove more engaging long-term. The reality of a micro-film is that for now it’s a linear narrative and in our time-pressed culture, the documentary is a format that doesn’t provide answers quickly. Do consumers really want to learn about brands in this way or does it suffice to do a google search?

The benefits I believe will become more evident as the need for compelling content increases in brand fan communities. The key of course is watching and sharing the film, using sharing as a distribution form that decreases the cost of the marketing. It also provides alternative messaging, diversity that can serve a broader range of content usage behavior.

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Catherine Sullivan is director of communications.



  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Joel! Your questions and engagement at the panel were a huge value-add, and your thoughts here are great, too. Look forward to connecting further.