Corporate films rethought

This presentation was made on 29.11.2011 at the Querdenker Congress in Munich.

On the occasion of today’s presentation at the Querdenker Congress, I would like to show you some – in my view – successful films by companies, and to tell you a little about their respective backgrounds. The films are not all by us, but have been produced by various companies and agencies. I have chosen these films because they are all in “landscape and horizontal format”. By showing you these films, I would like to demonstrate the power and importance of films as a means of conveying emotional messages. For: films are not just landscape/horizontal in terms of their dimensions (previously 4:3; now even 16:9). Above all, they need to have a landscape/horizontal format in terms of their content so that they can achieve their full effect.

This was also the case when advertisement films from the weekly cinema show first appeared on televisions in living rooms and continued their triumph as conveyors of companies’ messages. The première took place on the Bayerische Rundfunk on 3rd November 1956: the TV advertisement was born. With Beppo Brem and Lisl Karlstadt in the leading roles, Germany’s first TV commercial flickered across the airways. The film can be viewed on the Henkel website.


Besides its unusually long length (57 seconds), the advert has a real horizontal format in terms of its content: yet it doesn’t feature the product being advertised at any time. This was a real innovation in advertising films at the time.

Companies thus rely on films as the emotive carriers of their messages. Brands condense their messages in films. And as such – and this is important – the dramaturgy is defined by the director. Have you ever attempted to watch a film laterally or back to front? In the era of information overflow, the unlimited selection, the constant choice between headlines, flashing images and websites with sound, it is precisely this linearity, this small, closed world, which makes the film the calm anchor in the information flood and provides the viewer with orientation. In doing so, companies address the most wide-ranging recipients and the communication aims are also manifold. But there is one thing that all films have in common: they are not guarantees for the greatest levels of attention per se – they are only this when they are developed as such! And when they are used where they are also needed. The path always spans from concept to the actual shoot to postproduction to publishing, distribution and evaluation of use. A side note: the effect of a film begins with its publication! As such, many companies rely on films on the Internet, where films are available to a large number of people at all times.

Since September 2007, BMW has been proving that there is truth to the idea that brands are starting to provide programmes. With www.bmw.tv/com, BMW operates one of the most successful automotive channels on the Internet. Since its launch, the channel has developed into an entire family of channels: each BMW subsidiary can run its own channel in its national language. In other words, programmes are being published for an international audience. On the portal, we show the products of the BMW Group and we report about events, exhibitions and motorsports in general. The programmes are not just there to provide entertainment: the aim of the films is to encourage viewers to get involved: e.g. to configure a vehicle, to agree to a test drive or to recommend a film to friends on Facebook. (Key word: “viral marketing”.) For example, this one here:

In this film, we present a BMW bike in a quite different way. We wanted to create something unusual, something extreme and offbeat. We presented our idea to the four-times World Stunt Riding Champion Chris Pfeiffer, who immediately said yes. We then convinced those responsible at BMW to make the advert. The film has since become one of the most successful BMW motorbike films on the network; and not just on BMW.tv, but also on YouTube.

ginaOf course, BMW.TV has its own channel on the largest online video platform. The new viewers are “captured” on YouTube and then directed to the BMW.TV stock of programmes.

GINA Film is a good example of intelligent usage of the “long tail”. It is the most successful BMW company video on the Internet. It is about a vision, a completely new philosophy for building cars: why does a car need a fixed body? Why can a car not change its shape at the touch of a button? A revolutionary concept, presented by a lateral thinker, published by a company that relies on lateral thinkers. The film was published online in June 2008; after two weeks, it had been viewed four million times and currently has had more than seven million hits worldwide.

Another example: SAP was faced with the challenge that the camera does not love the product itself. The company is #1 in Europe and #4 in the world. Despite this, software solutions for the “Manufacturing Support for Small and Medium Businesses” sector can only be presented indirectly: through their use by certain reference companies, such as “Schumacher Elevators” in the USA, for example. We sent a well-known US presenter to Denver, Iowa, together with a camera team, in order to film the use of SAP software.

The message is full of humour: “With SAP software, everything works throughout the company, even when the IT department itself is ill”. The film can be found (besides the other customer videos) on the USA SAP website, together with the option of a personal presentation.

Now let us take a look at a medium-sized media company here in Munich. The Abendzeitung film “Faces of the City” placed a terrific soundtrack behind the footage and, in doing so, created a new image: authentic, different, attractive and believable. This film impressively proves the strong effect that can result from combining music with moving images. The Munich musician Jan Loechl wrote the soundtrack especially for this advert.

The result is a film about the faces of this city: no glamorous models; instead, people like you and me, no famous sights, but right in the heart of Munich.

To conclude, I would like to show you my current favourite company film (german). The styling and content are pioneering; the actors well casted:

Congratulations to our colleagues at Scholz & Friends, who created this advert. I hope that the “Media Entrepreneurs” initiative will be a storming success – the advert has earned it.