Corporate Piggybacking Ideas for Film-makers

Telstra have hit upon a brilliant marketing strategy for expanding upon their current Bigpond ‘Rabbit’ campaign. You know the one, where the kid asks about the Great Wall of China and his dad tells him that it’s to keep the rabbits out. Well, word has leaked that Telstra are considering making a film featuring those characters. The basic plot is that the kid searches the Internet – Bigpond, no doubt – for a wife for his dad. It’s corny. It’s cliched. It may just work. And even if it doesn’t then Telstra may not be too much out of pocket if they get the Australian federal and state government film funding bodies to pay for it.

Of course if it happens that way there’s likely to be a very loud cry complaining about how wrong it is for a corporation earning billions of dollars in net profit each year to dip its hand into the government coffers to make, what essentially is, an advertisement. But is what Telstra is doing any different from major foreign studios having their productions subsidised? What counts is that a film gets made, film-makers get employed and the movie actually gets seen. That last part is often missing from many of the films usually paid for by the funding bodies.

Given that there’s likely to be a major slowdown in film production due to the current economic downturn – money is about to become very scarce all round – maybe there’s an opportunity for innovative film-makers to develop an alternate market. I’m thinking along the lines of approaching corporations to use their current or abandoned marketing characters to create new dramas. They could be serious or spoofs. Either way the corporations could benefit by increasing their exposure, especially if the movies were aimed at the podcasting market. In fact the podcasting offers them not only a very subtle viral marketing campaign, but are likely to be lower in cost too.

About the Author: skribe

Based in Perth, Australia, Antonio Barimen (aka skribe) is a writer, digital media consultant and social media producer.

He is available to help you develop social marketing and digital media strategies, improving communication between staff, partners and suppliers or just increasing the number of fans on Facebook. He has developed successful digital and social media projects for clients including CBS, Evian, Procter & Gamble, Discovery Networks, Pernod Ricard and American Express.

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Post Under Advice, Marketing October 16, 2008
  • Yeah, would be wrong for them to collect funding for that. You would hope the funding bodies would be sensitive to that sort of thing. I like the idea of Ghosts of Television Advertising, especially if you’re throwing in lots of cameos. As always, script quality would determine success/failure. And you could do a lot of work and then the character owner might go, ‘err, nup.’

  • It could end up locked in development hell, as you suggest, but the core idea is certainly something that film-makers can examine. DH is just something that you learn to live with. It’s just a normal part of the industry unfortunately. Also, I think I’d develop it with the company rather than in isolation. Making sure that they understand that it’s not a standard advertisement and that subtly and quality are the key would be the most difficult part based on my experience. Developing it with them also means you get paid =).

  • Yeah, comedy best for that. Would be the best fun if you had different company’s characters.