Hanley-Wood unspools BrandFilms

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Hanley-Wood Integrated Marketing L.L.C. this month premiered BrandFilms, a marketing service that uses the storytelling capabilities of film for internal communications and external branding.

So far, FedEx Corp. is the only client using the service, but Minneapolis-based Hanley-Wood is promoting BrandFilms with a direct marketing campaign targeting 4,500 corporate marketers and brand managers.

The campaign includes three postcards featuring lines from classic movies, such as "Casablanca," to drive prospects to the Web site. There, they can enter a contest to win a copy of a classic movie and learn more about BrandFilms.

The campaign’s message: By tapping into the emotional power of film, companies can build brand awareness and loyalty among employees, customers, business partners and other constituents.

"For years, people thought of corporate videos as a way of training employees, introducing a new product or creating a behavioral change," said Jeanne Milbrath, president of Hanley-Wood Integrated Marketing, a division of Hanley-Wood L.L.C. BrandFilms has a different aim, she said.

"We use a high-quality commercial level of filmmaking to tell brand stories as new and different ideas," Milbrath said.

Production costs vary by client, but the low range for a BrandFilms movie is about $250,000, the company said. The films run from 90 seconds to eight minutes.

The concept for BrandFilms came from work the marketing company did for FedEx, beginning in 1999. That was a year after FedEx acquired Caliber System Inc., a shipping company with separate businesses for ground freight, logistics and specialty shipping.

Hanley-Wood, which had been a strategic partner of FedEx for about 10 years, was asked by the shipping company to create a brand awareness film to communicate FedEx’s new positioning in the marketplace, including new logos and colors created by brand identity agency Landor Associates. "We were in the process of extending our brand to the other operating companies," said Gayle Christensen, managing director of global brand management for FedEx, referring to the three companies that were part of Caliber—RPS Inc., Caliber Logistics Inc. and Roberts Express Inc.

"In order to communicate [the new positioning] to our customers and our sales force, we felt we needed to do a piece that talked about the new energy and the new colors, and what that could mean to our customers," she said.

So Hanley-Wood created a short film called "A World in Motion." Shot in major business capitals worldwide, such as New York, Hong Kong and Rome, it showed businesspeople rushing around at different times of the day, with FedEx always in the middle of the action.

"Any kind of new brand extension can cause confusion," Christensen said. "This explained everything in 3½ minutes and paved the way for the salespeople to come in with the next step."

Mark Hamerlinck, marketing manager of Hanley-Wood, said it’s difficult to measure the effectiveness of the films using traditional metrics.

"We don’t think BrandFilms are necessarily about generating leads or sales," he said. "They solve needs in sales, dealer support, employee relations and community relations. They build value over time."

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