Clearly, some PR company (or companies) is making good money out of convincing large corporations and businesses that the way to get to consumers, in this fragmented media world, is to do long-form advertisements. Rather than short, pithy 30 second spots, there seems to be a bit of a movement toward longer, snappy and emotionally rich adver-films that tell the story about "Our People". Some swelly music, beautiful sweeping pan shots, nice depth of field, and happy smiling faces… you get the picture. The Australian mining industry, the Mormons, and now Qantas have all put together a series of films about how their people, are people, just like you and me.
Maybe it isn’t a PR company, but somewhere along the way, marketers and PR professionals have realised that with only a few million (or less) eyes on top rating TV programs, they need to get to their target market in some other way. By putting a human face on their brands, these organisations are seeking to address negative views that people might have about them. Most of the adver-films feature a single "character", and generally finish with a statement along the lines of "I’m [first name], and I’m a [insert role and brand name]".
These short films have very high production values, and would be very expensive to make, so while they will end up being passed around on the web, they work best with a captive audience. Cinema advertising is a great way to get an audience to watch them, and they may start to pop up just before you settle into your next movie. They are too expensive for just an internal audience, i.e., within the corporation, so I doubt that is the strategy.
How effective are they? Well, if they’re made well, and take you on an emotional journey, that you are willing to go on, then they work well as part of an overall branding strategy. But the trap for young players is that the audience will bring in their already existing attitudes as they watch these films.
So, like all advertising, they will only work on those people who are willing to be nudged. So, I don’t think the new Qantas ads will make those who were marooned last year when Alan Joyce grounded the fleet with twelve seconds warning to passengers feel any better about the Qantas brand. If the audience is the general public, then this approach is probably not the best idea. I’d be advising Qantas to focus on the product, rather than the PR.
But what the ads might do, if I’m being a bit cynical, is make the board think that Qantas is doing something about the negative publicity. And maybe they’re the audience.
Link to AM on ABC National Radio reporting on the Qantas long-form "adver-films"
If you want to see some gorgeous adver-films, with no evil undertones, check out these beautiful films made by my mate, Tony Ferrieri, Cook here and now, Lancefield and Melbourne Showground’s Farmer’s Market.