Creative content or advert? It’s increasingly hard to tell

A new, short film premiered recently by Spanish brewer Estrella Damn is a conundrum. Is it a 15 minute advert for their product, is it a very expensive piece of product placement or is it something else entirely?

It is a perfect example of how companies with something to sell need to be creative in new ways to appeal to an audience who no longer have to sit passively through commercial breaks.

With more and more on demand viewers avoiding adverts altogether, the ‘this is what we sell and this is why you should buy it’ approach is becoming less and less effective.

‘The Little Things’ starring Hollywood stalwart Jean Reno and rising star Laia Costa would certainly not be cheap.

But it is not Estrella’s first venture into this hybrid area of marketing. Last year they premiered Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson in ‘Vale’. With sales soaring on the back of this, they have clearly decided that it was money well spent.

Set in the Mediterranean, Reno, true to character, plays a grumpy actor, Bertrand. His guide during filming breaks is Laia, played by Costa. Bertrand, initially aloof, thaws little by little as the relationship between the pair grows, usually lubricated by a few bottles of Estrella of course.

But this is not an advert, it is a proper short film. It has plot, characters that are developed through the course of the story, A list actors and an award winning director in Alberto Rodríguez, along with a properly touching, if not unexpected conclusion.

Released online. The film’s content ever so subtly highlights the brand’s ethos of gastronomy, friendship and culture.

It is a direct appeal to those viewers used to watching content they what to watch, when they want and it’s working, with over five million views in in first month. Why try and piggyback with a 30 second slot during the break of someone else’s show when you can be the show?

With the growth in on demand viewing and growing fickleness of consumers viewing habits, this blurring of lines between what is entertainment content and what is a commercial trying to sell you something  will only grow.

Should we be concerned about the subliminal nature of this shift though?