Where Commercials and Cinema Collide

By | Published September 30th, 2014 | in FILMMAKING

Where Commercials and Cinema Collide

Have you ever seen a company advertisement that feels like a cinematic experience? — I’m willing to bet that you have.

Things like the BMW ‘Driver’ videos with Clive Owen, the OK Go Honda music video, and the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ video essays all classify as cinematic commercials. 

We call them ‘branded content’ and these kinds of commercials are pretty commonplace nowadays to see high budget commercials from all the leading brands of every industry. 

Below we’ll explain the difference between commercial video and cinema — and how sometimes — the two collide inside branded content. 

Let’s go! 


Branded Content: Where Commercials and Cinema Collide

Back in the day there was a clear line between cinema and television, but as streamers and HD made those lines disappear, advertising had to change to keep up. 

That’s where branded content evolved from; the necessity to be cinematic while still pushing a product. 

In order to keep eyeballs on the screen during commercial breaks and online advertisements, companies had to adopt a plethora of cinematic techniques to keep viewers interested.

The origin of this hybrid video approach is debatable, but it’s obvious that the trend started to gain some steam after Tony Scott made it a standard in the 1980’s. 

For decades, directors have been hired by Fortune 500 Companies to produce commercials that resemble the look and feel of high dollar cinema. 

It seems to refine and polish the image of a company and raises the bar for its competitors at the same time. 

For example, more recently, there has been a lot of slow-motion techniques being utilized in big budget commercials as well as clever CGI tricks in the multi-million dollar range.

These are just elements that help make a commercial appear more cinematic in the hopes that you (the audience) forget that it IS an advertisement and get sucked right in. 

That’s the point, to make one forget or happily accept the fact that — at the end of the day, the connection you felt was an illusion and it’s just someone trying to sell you something. 

But the road goes both ways here. 

Films funded by Corporations

Films have always been funded by corporate companies with larger agendas. In most movies, even low-budget, you will see an abundance of product placement or lifestyles being sold subliminally, which is actually a cleverly disguised commercial placed seamlessly in between or in the middle of a scene. 

Most people right it off as reality-driven or the film trying to appear realistic, but this typically isn’t true. 

There have been plenty of comedy movies in the past that poke fun and mock the product placement involved in the movie by blatantly calling the audience’s attention to the overt placement, purposely disrupting the flow of the movie, thus funding the film with the product and remaining free of the “Sellout Hack” title. 

For most directors or creatives involved, it’s not an option. 

The producers and the stakeholders behind a film decide how much or what product placement will be involved with the production.

Summing up Branded Content: Where Commercials and Cinema Collide

In today’s world, the lines between movies and commercials are starting to become blurred. 

Though there are plenty of bodies of work that have a distinct side of the line that they lie on, the majority of movies and commercials are trying to sell you something and hide it.

The necessity for disguise is really when commercial video and cinema collide. A new term has been established for said commercials, they are now called “Brand Films.”

The future of advertising is here. 

What are you doing to participate?

About The Author:

Trenton Massey


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