Short Films. Entertaining or Just Plain Marketing?


Short films have become an effective tool that marketers can use because it helps to tell a brand’s story.  Ekaterina Walter, chief marketing officer at Branderati and author of Think Like Zuck and The Power of Visual Storytelling, believes that the reason why visuals, like short films, are so well-received by consumers is that we are “moving into a world that is inundated with information”.  Storytelling through videos provides brands with a great way to engage, motivate and connect with consumers on a different level. “With so much content being shared daily by so many brands, the written word just doesn’t have the same impact anymore — particularly for the reader who has grown up expecting a multi-media experience”.

Smart Insights shared four reasons why marketers should use story telling in animated videos:

  • Simple takeaways. Storytelling makes it easy for the viewer to follow what you’re saying. Your messaging is much more memorable and compels the viewer to share your content.
  • Emotional connection. Animated videos embrace the old adage of ‘show don’t tell.’ You can only write ‘Our product is the best’ so many times before people start questioning what you really mean. With animated videos you can share a clear story of your product’s value proposition.
  • Calls-to-action. Video compels viewers to act in ways the written word can’t. By depicting the action on the screen, you can show exactly how the user will benefit, yielding higher engagement rates. Telling stories are much more likely to motivate, inspire action and excite your audience.
  • Trust and loyalty. By clearly illustrating how your product works, you give potential customers a heightened sense of your company’s values and mission.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is a great example of a brand utilizing video to tell its story. Chipotle is a fast food restaurant chain that promises to give customers quality ingredients that come from farmers who take care of their animals and the environment. The company prides itself on being socially responsible and sustainable, which lead to the development of the short film, “The Scarecrow”. The film was released on Chipotle’s YouTube Channel on September 12, 2013.  The video currently has over 13.7 million views.

Chipotle teamed up with Academy Award-winning Moonbot Studies to create the animated short film, which attempts to promote sustainable farming and “depicts a kind of creepy, dystopian world that makes a heart-wrenching statement about the sorry state of industrial food production”. The film was entertaining because it uses storytelling to help people better understand the company’s values and the difference between processed foods and the “real thing”. The story conveyed in this film utilized emotional customer-focused messages and brought attention to serious issues within the food industry. Plus, it more closely resembled a movie instead of an ad. “Chipotle’s animation might be marketing. But it feels more important than marketing. Chipotle might be a fast-food company, but its story isn’t about how you can get a cheap but good Mexican lunch on the fly. Instead, it’s about what it stands for: Good food that’s locally and responsibly sourced. You can see that key bigger message incorporated in the animation: Cultivate a better world.

We all know we should make better food choices, so the film made people really start to think about what they consume on a daily basis. Narratives are intended to begin conversations and with the use of social media, Chipotle was successful. “The critics of the video – who charge that it is unfair and distorts the reality of conventional farming in the U.S. – miss the point.  Chipotle is not trying to be fair – the brand is trying to provoke an emotional response, both from the people who agree and disagree with them.   Chipotle realizes that the stronger the outcry is from people who detest the story they’re telling, the closer those who agree with them will align to the brand”.



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