5 Creative Ways Top Brands Use Long-Form Video

Long-form branded video content is no longer taking a back seat to short-form video ads. Yes, Instagram Video and Vine have popularized six and 15-second clips that users are eager to watch, but studies have found that an increasing number of connected individuals are more frequently watching long-form video content.

Ooyala’s Q3 2013 Global Video Index found that mobile video viewers spend 57% of their total viewing time watching videos longer than 10 minutes. Tablet audiences spent more than 60% of their viewing time engaged with premium, long-form videos running longer than 10 minutes, and connected TV viewers spent 71% of their total viewing time on this form of content. Brands have taken notice and as a result, produced creative, long-form videos that appeal to their audiences.

Branded Films

From 2001 to 2002, BMW released BMW Films, an online movie series produced by A-List Hollywood directors and actors that broke new ground in the world of branded content. Eight online films made up the company’s first series entitled “The Hire,” featuring Clive Owen as a mysterious driver-for-hire. Of course the spots flaunted BMW models in action sequences designed to thrill.

Now, the company has decided to bring back BMW Films that may end up featuring its new “i” sub-brand of plug-in hybrid vehicles.

“Resurrecting BMW Films is a great idea. If I was the CMO of BMW, that’s what I would be doing,” said David Kiley, author of “Driven: Inside BMW, the Most Admired Car Company in the World,” and editor-in-chief of New Roads Media. “It’s really difficult to stand out and separate yourself producing TV commercials any more. It’s really hard to tell an engaging story in 30-second spots.”

Check out one of the original installments below:

Rally Cry

Viewed over 99 million times on YouTube and shared over 11 million times, Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 video encouraged audience to view, share and act. Almost 30 minutes long, this spot earned the title of the “most viral” video of all time. Translated into several languages, this video spread across the web and clearly accomplished its goal of raising awareness about Joseph Kony’s war crimes.

The campaign began as an experiment: could an online video make an obscure war criminal famous? The answer is yes. Invisible Children successfully utilized long-form video to ignite a cause that would become one of the top international events of 2012.

Extreme Stunt Coverage

DC Shoes financed a now six part video series capturing driver Ken Block performing extreme stunts in incredible locations. The videos, ranging from seven to 10 minutes each, have thrilled millions of viewers online. The fifth spot, filmed on the winding streets of San Francisco generated over 59 million YouTube views and almost four million social shares.

Easily capturing the attention of driving enthusiasts and extreme stunt lovers, the campaign has prompted massive viewership and media coverage, fueling the popularity of the brand. This long-form content was exciting enough to keep people watching all the way through and anticipating each new installment.


Kraft, promoting its Lacta chocolate bar in Greece, created “Love in Action,” a crowdsourcing campaign that began with a series of traditional TV spots inviting people to submit their own personal love stories, one of which would be made into the movie. Over 1,300 people submitted love stories. After selecting the winner, Kraft and OgilvyOne Worldwide in Athens set out to produce a 27-minute branded entertainment film.

But what makes this campaign unique is that the audience played a role in everything, from writing the story to casting the film and styling the actors. Fans were involved every step of the way, interacting with each other’s love story submissions and voting on film details. Though the spot was originally meant for online audiences, the country’s leading TV station, MEGA Channel, offered to screen it free of charge on Feb. 14 as part of its Valentine’s Day programming.

“The film attracted a 12% share of viewers and was seen by more than 335,000 Greeks on TV. In the first few weeks online, the film was viewed 150,000 times and attracted more than 20,000 fans on Facebook. And the song featured in the film became a hit,” reported AdAge.

Fans were personally invested in the outcome of this branded film and were therefore deeply engaged with the content.

Lacta “Love in Action” – English subtitles from LactaFilms on Vimeo.

TV Series

Chipotle Mexican Grill is catering to long-form video viewers with its new satirical video series for Hulu, “Farmed and Dangerous.” The company will launch the pilot episode on Monday, and release the remaining episodes in the four part series on consecutive Mondays.

“Much of our marketing is aimed at making consumers more curious about where their food comes from and how it is prepared,” said Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing and development officer at Chipotle, about the new video series. “By making complex issues about food production more understandable—even entertaining—we are reaching people who have not typically been tuned into these types of issues.”

Video viewers obviously prefer branded entertainment to straight up ads—Chipotle is giving them exactly what they want with its long-form video series.

Brands are finding new and creative ways to maximize viewership and engagement with their long-form videos. With entertaining storylines, extreme tricks, and calls to action, the aforementioned companies are successfully reaching an ever-growing audience of long-form video viewers.

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