Johnnie Walker, JetBlue and Canada Goose Are Creating Short Films to Connect With Consumers

Viewers like longer content if it’s entertaining

At a time when ads are being trimmed to accommodate Snapchat and Vine, some marketers instead are playing the long game, serving up spots that run 15 minutes or more. Moët & Chandon, JetBlue, Johnnie Walker, Canada Goose and American Girl all released short films in the last few weeks featuring A-listers either in front of or behind the camera.

The strategy, say marketers, is simply to offer entertaining content consumers would be more apt to engage with. A study by digital media consultancy Mist Media found that an average Internet user spends 88 percent more time on a website with video. "Film is what people are consuming today," said Canada Goose CMO Kevin Spreekmeester. "It's one, if not the best, way to tell stories that connect emotionally with your audience."

"The play with long-form content is a powerful one," added Simon Owen, managing director of Anomaly, Johnnie Walker's creative agency. "There's lots and lots of talk at the moment of things being shorter and of attention spans dying that has led to the Vine-able, Instagram-able, GIF-able world … But people are willing to engage with long-form content if the content is compelling enough."

You be the judge.


The airline worked with agency Mullen Lowe on a 16-minute short, "HumanKinda," directed by Bianca Giaever and starring Veep's Sam Richardson. The short, which ran in October, showcases how the current always-on, always-busy mentality can be detrimental. The subtext—that consumers should slow down and take time for themselves—of course works as a sales pitch for the airline. But "it's about starting a conversation," noted Jamie Perry, vp of brand and product development at JetBlue. "In many ways we are the producer of the content, but it's not an infomercial that's in your face about 'buy JetBlue, buy JetBlue, buy JetBlue!'—and that was a very conscious decision. The goal was to drive the conversation [about being busy] first and foremost."


The Diageo brand in early November released "The Gentleman's Wager II," starring Jude Law, which was a follow-up to July 2014's stylish short for Johnnie Walker Blue Label featuring the actor making his play for a luxury Italian yacht. The first short scored roughly 45 million views across all digital platforms including YouTube and native Facebook uploads of the film. This time around, the 11-minute film, directed by Jake Scott (son of Ridley), has Law tinkering with a vintage race car (a Delahaye Type 135S, owned by the Walker family) and dashing off to Monaco. "When we did the first one it was kind of an unknown, it was a bit of a test for Johnnie Walker and Diageo," explained Owen. "But it was extraordinarily successful, amazing engagement. There's a lot that we can take from the movie industry with how they build brands, how they build anticipation, how they manage to drive interest ahead of time and really maximize something when it has launched."


The outerwear brand, which has gained a cult following among some celebrities in recent years, unveiled its four-minute film "Out There," directed by award-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis, in early November. The short profiles adventurers and explorers who survived incredible odds, while acknowledging its long-standing relationship with the film and entertainment industry. Backed by the Creative Artists Agency and media agency Huge, the film's subtext is meant to "tell the history of [Canada Goose's] jacket to people who don't know it," said Spreekmeester.


The 16-minute short, "Maryellen and the Brightest Star," was released in early November. It tells the story of 1950s American Girl doll Maryellen, who subverted the time period's gender norms and declared her love of outer space even as her male classmates mocked her. The short is part of American Girl's new dedication to creating content for digital platforms, according to Julia Prohaska, senior director of global brands at American Girl. For this film, American Girl worked with crowdsourcing studio Tongal, which helped the brand "engage [its] audience by letting consumers select key characters, which created an on-going experience," said Prohaska.


For its new short film "The Now," released in early November, Moët & Chandon tapped tennis champion Roger Federer to convey the energy of the brand. Created by We Are From L.A. (the same agency that produced the video for Pharrell Williams' "Happy"), the 90-second film is meant to be "treated not as a commercial but as a piece of art," explained Moët's international director of marketing and communications Arnaud de Saignes. The film "brings to life the vision of the brand—and short film is a greater way to connect and engage with the audience."

This story first appeared in the Nov. 30 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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