On Monday, Reel Chicago awarded a special edition “Ad of the Week” to an out-of-state agency for the first time in the colum’s history.
We felt the impact that Fox’s in-house digital agency, All City, created for Mars candies redefined branded entertainment by making really good entertainment.
Titled, Bite Size Horror, these are a series of two-minute branded films for M&M’, Snickers, Skittles and Starburst, that have been airing during Fox shows such as Ghosted and The World Series.
Floor 9.5, featured below, is the horrifying tale featuring of a young woman inside an elevator. It’s way worse than being stuck in a car where someone cut the cheese.
Creepy huh? Credits go to director Toby Meakins and writer Simon Allen.
How did something like this happen? Being an advertising creative myself, I tried countless times to sell various clients on the idea that branded entertainment is just that – entertainment with a well-placed hint of brand.
Other agencies have tried, too. Some succeed, but most fail. Somehow the entertainment gets lost in the wake of the brand. And the blame doesn’t just fall on the shoulders of the client, the agency is culpable, too.
By digging a little deeper, I discovered this was not the first foray into branded entertainment for the All City team. In 2015, the team created entertaining integration for Pepsi and Empire, which is shot here in Chicago.
Reel Chicago: Tell me a little about All City. How long has it been around? What was the idea behind it? You’re not defining it as in-house agency so how do you define it?
Arbi Pedrossian: Tony Sella was previously the Chief Marketing Officer of 20th Century Fox Films. He set up All City as a joint venture with Fox Networks with the goal of creating advertising innovation and integration. We started with the Pepsi / Empire story integrations of 2015.
RC: How did you come up with the idea? Did you have Mars in mind? Take me through the process.
AP: Mars actually approached Tony for a big idea. And this was it
RC: You got the client to do something that other agencies tried but failed at – doing something for a brand and not showing the brand in use. How?
RC: Take me through the director So the director search began. You got film directors not just commercial directors. What was the search process like?
AP: Fox Digital Studio scouts up-and-coming directors, providing entry into main stream opportunities. For instance, FDS did a string of short form work in 2011 with Jordan Vogt Roberts…
RC: Tell me about the pitching process. I heard it was a lot of people in the room didn’t give response according to the directors.
AP: We like to listen to pitches.
RC: What was the selection process like?
RC: Can you take me through the post process? How long? Editing process Did Mars think they went too far? Are there “directors’ cuts”?
AP: Complying with broadcast standards was the biggest challenge. Mars were great.
RC: I’ve heard chatter there are 12 films. True or False?
AP: It’s fun to be a little scared!
To me, the most important takeaway from this short conversation is the word, “trust.” It’s what an agency/client relationship is built on. It’s a word that has led to great work (thinking about DDB’s epic Bud work, FCB and Gatorade, McDonald’s and DDB and Burnett). And when trust is lacking, the work fails. I’ve experienced too few of the former in my career and way more of the latter in my career.
So, kudos to the Fox All City Team. The Reel looks forward to more work from them. Here is one more of the four that have aired so far. It’s for Starburst and called, The Replacement and was directed by Christopher Leone.
Have a spooky Halloween spot or campaign that you think is RAW? Email Colin at firstname.lastname@example.org.