Terra Chips Funds Movie for Toronto Film Festival

Veggie snack takes 'branded content' to another level

Brands are obviously into content creation these days, and it seemed that Kikkoman's film about soy sauce late last year might forever take top prize for pushing the proverbial envelope. But in a dramatically more subtle fashion, Terra Chips this weekend will challenge for that distinction at the Toronto International Film Festival when "Beneath the Harvest Sky" showcases. 

The veggie chips brand is providing significant marketing support behind the film's appearance at the prestigious film festival. And if it gets picked up by an indie distributor for a national and/or global 2014 theater release, Terra Chips has vowed to support the marketing then, too. But what's particularly notable, the Hain Celestial Group snack only gets an extremely minor product placement and no mention in "Harvest Sky."

The film tells the story of two teenage friends in a dead-end industrial town as they take different paths—ultimately tragic ones—to realize their dream of making it to the big city. The movie is set in rural Maine and features farmers who specialize in blue potatoes—the kind used for Terra's "Blues" potato chips.

Recognizing an opportunity to work with the brand to help get their movie made, the filmmakers Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly, approached the Melville, N.Y.-based firm. Hain Celestial saw a chance to let a cinema audience connect the dots between the blue potato subject matter and the chips.

Ink dried on the deal to finance the movie before a frame was shot. Per Terra Chips reps, their company's investment in the film will account for 5 percent of its annual marketing budget. "Harvest Sky" will appear on the brand's packaging while it leverages its social media properties as well. 

The film will show at the festival in Toronto on Sunday evening. 

To say that it will be interesting to see how the art-plus-commerce initiative works out is an understatement. After all, all too often, art and commerce have gotten along about as well as the characters played by the late Canadian great, John Candy, and Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.