Brand Rolled: Ten of the best pieces of branded content on the web

At Mumbrella360 Vice Australia presented Brand Rolled, a night of the best brand-funded content on the web from around the world. Vice Australia director Michael Slonim argues going from ads to content is a difficult yet rewarding change, and offers a selection of the night’s curation.

Brands today should be thinking and acting like media, creating content that’s entertaining as hell and pulls in audiences.

But where should we look to for inspiration when most television, like most advertising, is boring, derivative and easily ignored?

Enter HBO – the undisputed champion of television channels and probably one of the most powerful brands on the planet right now.

That familiar screen of fuzz and “ehhhhhh” sound precedes so many of the shows that young people call their favourite, no matter what screen or legal context they watch them in.

The network’s “It’s not TV, it’s HBO” positioning has helped to raise the bar on its programming to dizzying heights, well above its counterparts at traditional networks.

They produce unique and innovative series that create ardent fans, and their reputation means that the world’s best creative minds are all clamouring to work with them (including VICE).

But how can brands even consider aiming for these lofty heights?

At Mumbrella360 Vice Australia presented Brand Rolled: a series of the best branded content on the web.

Check out this amazing inspiring documentary about an against-all-odds Thai football team.

It was funded by TMB Bank, by agency Leo Burnett Group Thailand and directed by Matt Devine of The Glue Society.

Or the Grolsch Film Works project (yes by VICE) that kicks off with an unholy alliance between three of the world’s best indie directors.

Or this great Gorillaz film clip DoYaThing that’s been watched millions of times. It’s for Converse.

Or Absolut Vodka’s I’m Here: A love story in an Absolut World directed by Spike Jonze for TBWA/Chiat/Day New York

Australian director Ben Briand directed The Gentleman Shaver, a piece for client The Art of Shaving, through BBDO New York

For Warner Bros, promoting film Project X, Vice sat down with Johnny Knoxville to talk about a legendary party moment of his.

K-Swiss made Kenny Powers CEO, a concept by agency 72andSunny with over 3.3m views

A Vice-produced series for Mini called All The Wrong Places

Philips commissioned this surreal clip, directed by Adam Berg for Tribal DDB Amsterdam

Fosters commissioned Mid-Morning Matters with Alan Partridge, later picked up by BSkyB and Foxtel. The series has been commissioned for a second series

These are all ambitious examples of how advertisers can create content that wouldn’t seem out of place on HBO.

It’s just a matter of finding the right story to tell and the right people to tell it. Which is where the film-makers like the above can come in; the Harmony Korines, Spike Jonzes and Ben Briands of the world. As indie film funding from movie studio and government bodies dries up, particularly here in Australia, brands are increasingly stepping into the void to give artists the opportunity to make great work. Done right, these brands can earn truckloads of cultural kudos and fame in the process.

To create this kind of content does mean that brands are having to hand over the reigns a bit more than they’re used to. The Grolsch Film Works saw the three directors involved in The 4th Dimension free to make a short film as they saw fit, with only an offbeat creative brief to work to. You can see some of these guidelines in the trailer to the film. The resulting work speaks for itself; it’s brave, challenging, and extremely well respected amongst artistic circles.

So brand managers, you’re the new studio execs. Get out there and green-light amazing projects.


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