Technology in brand film – 4 key takeaways from Brand Film Festival

Content Strategy

Industry Insights


Technology continues to facilitate significant progress and innovation in the advertising world. An increasing number of brand films now use one of the various forms of advancing technology such as 360 video, AR, VR, interactivity, shoppable, IGTV. The list goes on.

Technological advances enable us to be more innovative than ever with our film and even allow us to reach the most remote places on the planet, previously inaccessible by mankind. David Attenborough’s most recent Our Planet series is a prime example, portraying some exclusive footage which would not have reached our screens without the use of drones and stabilizers, as well as remote and vehicle-mounted cameras. Brands are pushing the boundaries to equal measures.

Technology continues to play an important role in the way agencies and brands alike produce and deliver content. Our Head of Studio Nick Ford-Young was invited to join a panel at Brand Film Festival by PR Week and Campaign and gave his insight about the ways to use technology in brand film and best practices brands should be considering.

Audience first, technology next

Before choosing which tech will appeal to a certain audience (and not the other way round), brands must first reconcile the historic clash between tech and creative. As these two entities used to be very separate, with no real means of communicating with one another, the friction could become a barrier to building successfully tech-enhanced brand film. But when used strategically the two actually complement each other very well. Technology should be used as a tool to drive a creative idea, but must consider the audience first and foremost. The audience’s experience should be overall rendered better than without it. To do so, the right tech must be used to supplement what the strategy and idea is rather than having an approach where using a certain technology is the starting point for a brief. The technology should only be used if appropriate to the audience and if it will resonate. In advertising thinking of the audience and their experience first is absolutely key. Tech should only be used when it’s right, when it will benefit the user and the brand and when it will amplify the connection with the audience.


Which technology for which brief?

There are so many available options in terms of tech opening up to brands, but which one is suitable for what brief? The overall responsibility of using the correct one lies in the hands of agencies, as most brands won’t be aware of all the possibilities available to them when writing a brief. Agencies must therefore have the right tools and partners to produce compelling brand films and to successfully answer a brief. Not all technology will be suited to objectives. If the short-term goal is having a CTA in the content for bookings, interactivity is great. It is also good for creating a shoppable environment such as Ted Baker’s shoppable catwalk, where customers can purchase items directly from the content. VR is suited for showing an audience content in a context they wouldn’t usually get the chance to be in. This type of content works well for charities, or for showcasing different interior custom options to customers wanting to purchase a car or private jet. As for AI, it’s great for tracking an audience’s behaviour and optimising execution on the back of this.

Use technology to encompass and amplify your brand’s values

A good brand film displays the values the organisation stands for and uses technology to circulate these. National Geographic excels in the way it uses tech, amplifying its investigative values and showing their audience a view of the world they would not get elsewhere whilst staying true to their ethos. The result is stunning imagery that truly encompasses what the brand is about – placing greater value on the natural world and its people.


The limitations of the use of technology – a PR stunt rather than a tool?

Using an innovative technology (in its early rise) for brand film often attracts PR, but rather than recognising exceptional creative or storytelling, it’s more for the actual use of that particular technology. Lexus for example released an ad at the end of 2018 entirely scripted using AI that picked up the attention of the press. They later revealed that although minor, there was still a wholly necessary degree of human involvement required to produce the script. The tech here provided a decent PR story, however didn’t necessarily produce results as impressive as if an agency had carried out the work. Was AI just used for the sake of using technology or was it  the best tool for the creative in this particular case? Did the insight of AI lead to better results? This raises a debate around how far data and analytics can actually replace creativity…  From the Lexus example, one can only assume AI will not be replacing creative agencies’ jobs anytime soon.

In AI’s case, it should be used for distribution and targeting as it is effective in terms of how granular brands can go with it. When segmenting used to be about geography and gender, it’s now possible to reach consumers based on their mood and the time of day they would rather be served the ad. AI should therefore be used to enable brands to reach their audiences in more engaging ways, but perhaps not rely on it entirely for the creative.

The use of technology can however produce some great engagement and PR, such as for Burger King’s ‘Burn That Ad’. The campaign meant that anyone who pointed their smartphone to any of the burger joint’s competitors’ ads, would see them burst into flames through augmented reality and then receive a free Whopper in exchange. In this case technology met a clear need and purpose-boosting engagement at an individual level rather than acting as a blanket PR stunt.


By Lucy Lowther – PR & Marketing Manager at Studio Black Tomato