What film making teach us about brand identity
Take a look at this ad campaign by clothing retailer H&M.
Yes, that’s Adrian Brody, on a train, in an ad for H&M.
It’s a somewhat odd sensation watching a Christmas ad at any time other than Christmas, but this ad is striking all year round, namely, because it was directed by none other than Wes Anderson.
Anderson’s work is easily identifiable for its fairy tale-inspired cinematography and the somewhat folk-like tales he tends to tell.
His films have become so ingrained in our collective cultural consciousness that there are even countless Anderson-inspired parodies to be found online.
However, it’s not simply Anderson enthusiasts online that are attempting to invoke his work in theirs. Advertisers and brands are all too aware of the power of his often innocent and dream-like, but always irresistibly inviting fictional worlds, that they too are beginning to see how a well done ad that captures this essence can give their brands some of the qualities associated with his oeuvre.
Anderson himself describes it as his “handwriting as a movie director. … I’m going to write in my own handwriting.”
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples and see what kind of things they evoke.
As part of McDonald’s reinvention, or rather their ongoing repositioning of the brand as an agriculturally as well as nutritionally responsible choice, in a market that’s increasingly striving for credibility.
Fast food isn’t always seen as a good choice due to the contents of the food on offer, or so it’s seemed, but McDonald’s clever ad, which pays homage to Anderson with the use of colourful characters and quaint settings, reassures us that their product is different.
What’s more, as McDonald’s pay close attention and cast a truthful eye over the perception of the brand (at least in the UK), the indie feel of an Anderson homage feels particularly fitting, as it reminds us the viewer that what we’re watching is something like independent film-making. It seems like DIY cinema, on a shoe-string budget, which is authentic and real. And that is, helpfully, exactly the message McDonald’s want to share.
The charming characters and camp, extroverted, almost 1970s stylings of the characters here bring real charm to the brand. In fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking the character of Wilson in the McDonald’s ad wasn’t actually Bill Murray’s character Steve Zissou from Anderson’s ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’.
So then, McDonald’s use Anderson’s style to give the brand an air of authenticity, as well as to create credible, likeable characters, who in turn we trust to bring us the best product, but how would a different brand with a different product create their own Wes World?
One of the first things you will notice about this ad is the matching suits, then the matching dresses. As Rolling Stone put it, Anderson has always “found ways to make clothes comment on his characters.”
The second perhaps, will be the font of the ‘cast’, which cheekily includes “Free WiFi”. The font, as it happens, is Futura, the very same font Anderson has used in his films and is now a motif one would expect to see in any film of his.
It’s an unmistakable font with a plethora of associations.
What you’ll also notice here is how Premier Inn use their staff like characters in a miniature universe, in the same way McDonald’s do. It means the ad sits somewhere between reality and fiction. We know this kind of world, the one Anderson would create, doesn’t really exist.
Rolling Stone describe The Grand Budapest Hotel, the film that this ad pays homage to, as being set in “a never-quite-was 20th-century Europe”. It’s realism, but not as we know it.
This ties in brilliantly with what Premier Inn are - a hotel. It’s an escape. From work, from the day-to-day, from the humdrum. And what better framework than a Grand Budapest Hotel-inspired birthday party. A birthday, i.e. that one day of the year unlike any other for every individual.
But the breakfast, the decor, the service, they’re all real. So we’re at once in a playful world of semi-fantasy and reality, giving us the sense Premier Inn is somewhere both adventurous, unreal, and yet within our grasp. It’s a fine balancing act.
Do H&M sell the outfit Adrian Brody’s train driver character was wearing?
Is Steve really a quality-assurance officer for McDonald’s?
Is wearing a bespoke suit a prerequisite to staying at the Premier Inn?
The answer to all of these questions is, to quote my magic 8 ball, ‘don’t count on it’. However, that’s not to say they don’t share a common message, namely that their brands want to be considered as quaint and comforting as Wes Anderson’s familiar style, if not the fairly zany plots those films have.
Will more brands in future seek out a cultural connection to then connect with their customers? As my magic 8 ball might say, ‘Outlook good.’
Travel Retail, a Great Opportunity to Boost Sales22/03/2018
Travel retail is a classic and important sales channel for many brands. But, in recent times, it is becoming even more relevant. The data made available in recent years shows that
The Importance of Innovation in the Retail Sector20/03/2018
Innovation is a critical aspect in virtually all business sectors. Times change, and the needs of clients change with them. This is why it is essential to adapt to new trends and demands if
David Santafé, Chief Design Manager at HMY: "Innovation in retail should always be productive for both the brand and the consumer" 19/03/2018
The retail world is constantly changing. This is causing brands to look for their own place within the sector as a way to position themselves as the best possible option for consumers and to look f
The Key to Sustainability Is Innovation12/03/2018
Sustainability is on everyone's lips. It is an issue that is influencing nearly all sectors of the economy as well as people's lifestyles. Also, not only is this trend here to stay, but it
Health and Beauty: A Growing Sector in Retail10/03/2018
Health and Beauty is one of the sectors that has been growing lately within the retail industry. At a time when there is a stronger push for e-commerce, it is worth highlight
Every Waiting Period Is an Opportunity in Retail: Reinventing Spaces19/02/2018
On other occasions, we have discussed the challenges and trends to come in the future of retail. One of our favorites is Read more
Key Takeaways from Retail's Big Show 2018, put on by the National Retail Federation18/02/2018
Last month the National Retail Federation's (NRF) annual exhibition took place in New York. It is one of the most relevant retail and technology exhibitions internationally.
At MPV 2018, HMY Will Be Presenting their Latest Innovations for Retail13/02/2018
The MPV (Marketing at Retail Show) biennial exhibition will be held on March 27, 28 and 29 in Paris. This exhibition for professionals in the retail industry has gained worldwide
HMY Will Invest 3 Million Euro, Creating 60 New Jobs at its Production Plant in Spain07/02/2018
HMY started the new year by focusing the positive results and prospects that the company saw in 2017. Particularly noteworthy is the construction of a new logistics warehouse which is set to open i
Supermarket of the future: the digital and physical convergence of retailers05/02/2018
While there’s little doubt that retailers are facing an uphill struggle to keep customers coming through their doors due to political and economic uncertainty, consumers will always want ever