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What is content anyway?

What is content anyway?

The word ‘content’ has become far too common. Hearing it used is a surefire way to make me squirm in my seat. Why? ‘Content’ privileges media above all else. It’s the thing we use to fill the space on the screen or the gap in the timeline. We used to say ‘content’ when we didn’t know what we wanted to create yet. But for some reason, the word lingers on. Films have become content. Photography has become content. Music has become content. Does this simplification actually benefit us? Of course not, it separates us further and further from our audiences. “What content is playing at the cinema tonight?” Doesn’t that make you squirm?

Audiences don’t want content. More often than not when we are making them ‘content,’ they want entertainment. Content is a delivery system. An entertainment delivery system. So let’s talk about entertainment, and the many forms it takes.

Here at elevenfiftyfive we specialise in film. It’s a passion for the vast majority of the population, and is consumed in many ways. From the biggest to the smallest screens, in print, as a soundtrack, or even as clothing. It’s this passion for film that we care about. By adding to this passion, but never distracting from it, we connect brands to audiences.

Over the last few weeks we have been examining trailers and other types of ‘short-form content.’ It’s clear that audiences do not care where content comes from – only whether it is any good or not. One of my favourite examples, released in 2012, is Peter Weyland’s 2023 TED Talk.

Here we have a seamless integration of a brand with a film. It gave the audience an insight into the world of Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s follow-up to the Alien films. Which is exactly what they wanted, but not in the form they were expecting. The TED brand, and platform was flawlessly built into the idea. Ultimately, the teaser received widespread coverage and built excitement for the final film.

Teaser or preview films are not the only way to entertain an audience through film. Aningaaq (2013), a short film, took audiences back to the world of Gravity (2013), giving them a new perspective on a key scene. 

The film was intended to be an extra on the Blu-ray edition, but it found a life of its own. This would be a perfect opportunity for a brand to help bring this to life. After all, the chance to return to the story was very exciting for the audience. A brand should have released the film and benefitted from introducing it to their target audience.

However, film entertainment is not limited to feature films. For the last 3 years we’ve worked with Pernod Ricard on their filmmaking competition, Jameson First Shot. Three writers/directors are selected to have their scripts made into short films with an award-winning star. This year’s actor is Dominic West, and previously we’ve worked with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Adrian Brody.

The global Jameson team understand that for branded content to be successful, it must be treated as branded entertainment. That’s why they’ve structured the competition around finding the best script and talent. Their brief gives the entrants space for creative freedom, rather than approved copy.

Home (2016) By Kat Wood

The resulting films are certainly branded, but wouldn’t be labeled as content. Jameson First Shot is a genuine example of branded entertainment. We help our audience achieve their dream of making a film. Then we distribute it to audiences across the globe, for their entertainment.

- Richard Williams, Film Specialist

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