In recent months we had an opportunity to see several examples of branded entertainment, especially web series, such as Orbit’s campaign The Prom Date (analysed in the post Is this the future for ads?), Audi’s The Next Big Thing or Phillips’ Parallel Lines.

Audi’s The Next Big Thing is an interesting one. It’s a six-part mini-movie that was part of the marketing campaign for the launch of Audi’s new car – A1, which belongs to the supermini car segment. The main character in the movie is John (played by Justin Timberlake), a young information technician, who’s sitting in a bar and is suddenly attacked by three masked thugs. He’s saved by a strange woman and the pair has to escape in a red A1 …

You can watch all episodes on Audi’s official website The Audi A1.

The Next Big Thing is Audi’s attempt to show their new model in all its glory. The mini-movie has car chases, shootings, kisses … and a final twist. It’s rather good, until the last episode or should I say the twist. In my opinion Audi should have invested more in screenplay, because the ending is somewhat disappointing.

When I watch ads or mini-movies which are aimed at presenting new car models, I always compare them to the legendary BMW’s series The Hire. The Hire was a series of eight short films produced for the Internet in 2001 and 2002. All eight films featured famous movie directors (Wong Kar Wai, Ang Lee, John Woo, Guy Ritchie …) and Clive Owen as the ‘Driver’. The movies highlighted the performance aspects of various BMW cars, but even if you consider that they were paid ads, some of those short movies are in my opinion masterpieces.

The Hire was a global success. “What began as a “big idea” grew into a cutting edge, first-of-its-kind entertainment event that was unprecedented in our industry,” said Jack Pitney, former Vice President of Marketing for BMW of North America. “We are proud that The Hire had more than 100 million film views.”

The Hire series is brilliant. If you haven’t seen it, watch it immediately. My favorite movie is The Follow: it was directed by the great Wong Kar Wai and includes stars, such as Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Forest Whittaker, Adriana Lima and BMW.

BMW set such a high standard with The Hire that it would take super-creative efforts to make something that will be better than those movies. After almost 10 years each of those movies still looks good individually and as a series. The benchmark was set, let’s wait for the next big thing.

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