charity comms versus branded content

This week’s films are great examples of how brands take inspiration from charity comms: these videos from Co-op Bank, Kenco Coffee and Bisto all steal tricks from charity case studies but they’re also full of tips that all of us in charity communications could learn from.

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3 tips charities can learn from brandeds

These may be expensive ad-style films made by large agencies for rich brands…. but the essential tricks they pull off are easily translatable to charity videos.

Real People’s Stories.  no actors or scripts here – the values and personalities of the contributors are the values and personality of the brand

Short and to the point. The Co-op film clocks in at 90″ and manages to explain what Richard’s doing, how he met his wife, where they live and how his scheme brings people together. Brilliant.

Visual Storytelling. Showing not telling is key to all of these films –  interviews are used but the voices are mostly running under pictures that illustrate the point.

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1. Guerrilla Gardening: The Co-op Bank – It’s good to be different

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I’m a huge fan of the Co-op’s output – they create simple visual stories and tell them visually.

This film is part of the Co-op Bank’s “It’s good to be different” campaign and features the story of Richard, a guerrilla gardener in London. Beautifully shot but essentially very simple in its aims and structure – it simply tells the story of Richard’s work and why he thinks it’s important. There’s a short brand message at the end but mostly we’re allowed to absorb the idea simply by concentrating on Richard. Wonderful. Made by Leo Burnett for the Co-op.

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2. Maria’s Story: Kenco – Coffee v Gangs

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Arresting content and very strong characters gives this film a really compelling reason to keep us watching.

Part of a campaign that combines a flashy TV advert, pages in the Telegraph online and a YouTube Channel with at least 18 films, this film tells the story of Maria, a young Honduran woman who is struggling to escape gang life. Stylistically it draws on series like Unreported World or Channel 4 News – simple but strong visuals, some interviews and some fairly shocking revelations – for example the way gang members kidnap girls for sex partners. Also made by Leo Burnett

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3. KEV & HIS FAMILY: Bisto – Together Project

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 Ambitious in scale – helicopter tracking shots in the icy north – but personal in scope, this film shows Bisto as part of family life.

Based around the story of Kev, a lonely long-distance lorry-driver, this film surprises him by bringing his family to see him in Sweden. A sweet story but of all this week’s film, this feels like the most manufactured both in its visual style and its messaging. I prefer their Spare Chair Sunday film, made with the help of Contact the Elderly. It’s simpler and feels more authentic in scale and ambition. Made by McCann London.

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London Video ProducersJeremy Jeffs is a documentary film maker with 15 years experience of directing films for BBC, Channel 4, National Geographic and PBS. He’s recently finished work on a history of China, with broadcaster Michael Wood and his recent feature documentary, Bette Bourne, was shown at the London Film Festival, Sheffield International Documentary Festival and the V&A. More about Jeremy

health video producersMagneto Films is an award winning production company that specialises in working with the charity sector, not-for-profits and the public sector. We specialise in telling real stories, working with casestudies and real people to make films that move people to action. More about Magneto Films

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