How To Deliver Authentic Branded Content

8th October 2015 - Kelsi Byers

A client, we’ll call them Loblawsand their digital agency BIMM came to Clark Stanley with an idea. It included working with real people, shooting in a live environment, one take, and telling a beautiful story. We had the perfect guy for the job, our director Andy Keen

What did Andy do?

He delivered this: 


Take a moment to mop up your phone or keyboard and compose yourself. You good? You sure? Let’s continue… 

We’re going to go ahead and assume a couple of things: 

a) You instantly felt the need to reach out to family and friends to plan a gathering (relatable!) 

b) You fell in love with the Rome family, and have a soft spot for Matthew, the patriarch and Cheryl the daughter (real people!)

c) You got something in your eye that caused some tearing up (emotional storytelling, we won’t tell!)

d) You are a bit hungry and want to go to Loblaws to buy some yummy food and make your own feast even if a fresh baked cupcake is the best you can do at the moment (branded content!) 

We at Clark Stanley have been telling emotional stories for BIG brands (P&G, Tide, TD) since we opened our doors. Although clients have asked for tears, we always put the story, and brand first and do what makes sense to get the proper messaging across. 

Here’s a look at Andy Keen’s experience working with Loblaws on their latest #WeLoveFood Campaign and why it was a success. 

BIMM brought Andy a script that had most of the elements that you see in the above final cut.

“I knew that finding the right family was critical, and then meeting with Matthew and Cheryl before we shot was a real bonus,” said Andy. “I ended up spending an afternoon with the two of them to get a better feel for what they were like as people.” 

“It’s one thing working with professional actors, but I love working with real people. It has it’s benefits and challenges, and in this case, we got lucky a bit because the family and individuals had a beautiful history and were amazing to work with.” – Andy Keen 

Andy wanted to get to know the Rome family, and in turn, they got to know him by spending about 6 hours together by the time they got to the shoot, so they knew that they were in good hands. The goal was to tell their story in a beautiful, authentic and memorable way, and to have fun while doing it (all goals were reached, and it’s obvious when viewing the final cut! Andy’s a bit of a pro.) 

Something unique about this project was the fact that Andy had one, we repeat, ONE opportunity to capture the genuine reaction of these real people in the reveal. This means you take what you get… no second takes… no rewinds…. no re dos…only the real deal. You have your cut and you head into the edit room with almost 20 hours of footage and start to piece it together. “There’s a great energy that comes with cutting these jobs on a tight schedule.  It’s slightly overwhelming at first, but you get there in the end.” 

This particular spot was cut in just 3 days. Allowing another day and a half for revisions after the client saw the cut.  All said and done, they shot Saturday, transcoded Saturday night and Sunday. Cut the spot and had final approval by Friday. Finished and delivered the following Tuesday (and then went to happy hour to celebrate and re-enter human civilization,we may have added that part in…but it’s not untrue.

“Shoot time is one variable, but let’s face it…with the Loblaws Family Recipe spot, we are shooting an event. It’s an event that we have a certain amount of control over, and that we have mapped out several times with the crew the best we can,” said Andy. Perhaps it’s Andy’s background working in documentary film that gives him the ability to see these stories as events, and allows him to uncover the truth and authenticity. 

Clark Stanley - How to Deliver Authentic Branded Content

This is a real family. The Rome family are real people! There were more than 25 people who Andy was trusting would show up on the day for him and make magic. “There is a certain amount of faith you throw at projects like this. At a certain point, you’ve crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s meaning you’ve made sure that certain moments of the narrative will be captured no matter what, and then you let go!.” 

The family arrives. Four cameras press record. And you try your best to make good frames. “As we do more of these types of spots, we are getting better equipped to execute.” And this seems to be the norm lately. Client or agency creatives that are making phone calls saying “We want the emotional story.” “I’ve had more than one phone call saying ‘Okay, Andy, we want tears.'” 

So what makes spots like the Loblaws “We Love Food” campaign so successful and memorable? “Good stories have relatable elements that come through the characters, their environment and the challenges they face reaching their goals,” said Andy. The moment Matthew gives his family a toast is so touching because it’s real. No actor on this planet would have been able to execute a better delivery. A bit like documentary film making, the stories begin to take form and start being told on their own as the project takes off. 

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s time to gather with friends and family and have your own “Rome family” experience with your loved ones (and if you head to Loblaws to get your festive ingredients, our job here is done.)