Stella Artois bids to become a movie producer

Stella Artois is one of a growing number of brands looking to take their promotional tie-ups with movie studios beyond traditional product placements in the hopes of forging creative partnerships through exclusive content.

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Stella Artois is set to benefit from the PR around thriller In Fear, which it helped fund, as stars including Simon Pegg attended its premiere last week.

The brewer has just kicked off promotions for psychological thriller “In Fear” following its nationwide release last week (15 November). It is the latest project to be backed by the Stella Artois bursary programme, launched in partnership with distributor Picturehouse Cinemas last year, to fund feature films from emerging directorial talent.

The film, which follows a young couple as they get lost in the remote Irish countryside, is being promoted through additional content across Stella Artois’ social media channels as part of its wider Connoisseurs premiumisation strategy.

Phil Pick, marketing manager for Stella Artois in the UK, says the initiative, which has supported seven releases since it began last April, aims to deliver “standout” film events that could not be delivered via traditional movie tie-ups. It hopes to amplify the brand’s long association with film dating back to 1998 when it began running adverts during movie programming on Channel 4.

Pick adds: “Activity such as our bursary programme enhances the association Stella Artois has with film, and this is something we’re committed to continuing.”

The intention reflects a wider change in attitude from some brands and movie studios exploring alternative models of film financing. The advent of content marketing alongside the increasingly fragmented media landscape has meant marketers and producers are more willing to work with one another to reach new audiences.

This year’s Hollywood adaption of F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was rescued by luxury brands including Prada, Tiffany and Moet & Chandon after the film struggled to get off the ground. All three brands were involved in the film’s development process ranging from research to prop design. This behind-the-scenes involvement allowed the brands to benefit from PR around the film’s stars sporting their products as well as launch more lavish tie-ins such as a ‘Gatsby Hour’ Moet pop-up bar.

Elsewhere, Heineken took a similar approach for its activation around last year’s James Bond blockbuster Skyfall, which saw the brand build a global campaign featuring actors Daniel Craig and Bérénice Marlohe appearing content solely created for the brand.

Philip Hughes, an associate who specialises in media brands and technology at commercial law firm Lewis Silkin, says the ultimate aim for brands is to create alternative marketing models around the content they help create.

He adds: “Very few deals are built around brands receiving takings from the box office. However, it could happen more in the future. Brands are now battling the existing financial structures in film to leverage their financial strength to provide more integrated marketing support.

“Investing in film provides brands with a higher quality off-screen content that is credible as a piece of entertainment rather than purely commercially produced.”

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