‘Fifteen’: Hurrdat’s first brand film

‘Fifteen’: Hurrdat’s first brand film

“Video is everywhere. Quality video is not.”

I’d like to take credit for that line, but it actually comes from a very well-respected agency in the world of branded content. And it couldn’t be more correct. Video — when produced well and used correctly — can be one of the most powerful connection tools between a brand and its audience.

Brands are recognizing that fact and recognizing a culture that’s becoming far less interested in being talked at in the way traditional advertising often does.

The convergence of these factors has crystallized into one concept: branded documentaries and brand films. This idea is relatively new (unless you grew up skating, surfing, or snowboarding. Then you’ve been watching branded films about 30 years since you popped in a VHS of “Future Primitive” or “Animal Chin”). In recent years, companies like Illy (“A Small Section Of The World”), Jack Daniel’s (“Independent Lynchburg”), and DICK’s Sporting Goods (“Hell Week”) have entered the ring. Now Hurrdat has too with the release of its first-ever branded documentary film for a client: “Fifteen.

“Fifteen” is an 86-minute branded documentary film commissioned by Planet Eclipse, an action sports equipment and lifestyle brand. The brand is revered for its passion for its sport — paintball — and high performance quality of its products. All branded video content must reflect that too.

“Our customers are also fans, “ said Planet Eclipse Brand Manager and Design Director Al Woods. “They’re fans of our products, our support systems, our teams, our players, and what we stand for as a brand, which is why we feel emotionally driven to create engaging content, with documentary films being at the very top of our list in that respect.”

By all accounts, “Fifteen” has been an extremely successful offering for Planet Eclipse, connecting with the audience and advocates of the brand and product faster and more powerfully than anything else that’s been cut for them in the past decade. Brand films like “Fifteen” have become a significant way for companies like Planet Eclipse to make meaningful connections and leverage their own story without the hard sell.

“We never create our documentary films with the intention of creating an opportunity to ‘sell’ to our fans. Our fans don’t want to see that,” said Woods. “The ‘hard sell’ school of thought is a very old-fashioned approach that doesn’t work in an industry like ours.”

And the alternative school of thought behind “Fifteen” is working for brands like Planet Eclipse. In terms of fan engagement, “Fifteen” reached 80,000 organic views in the first eight weeks, and also 1,200 likes and 500 comments on YouTube — that’s nearly six times more than that of the brand’s competitor.

“Amidst a sea of regular and disposable video content, it is easy for the bigger and more important stories to be missed, so we make a special effort to slow down the merry-go-round and encourage the audience to let our film take them on an inspirational and motivational journey that will make a significant impact on them as paintballers,” Woods said.

For weeks leading up to the release, Planet Eclipse released trailers and custom images on its own Instagram and Facebook accounts, as well as on its primary channel partner, Paintball.News, and through the athletes themselves. It also featured not one but two same-day live premieres with retail partners in Los Angeles and Toronto to coincide with in-store sales two days before the film was released online to the rest of the public.

Not only did “Fifteen” have the highest first-week debut in six months and a top five all-time debut on PbNation’s YouTube channel — the Internet’s most-viewed resource for videos of the sport — it was also shared on Facebook 4,000 times in its first three days. The final cherry on top was an announcement that the film had been accepted into the seventh annual All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival and would get a prime screening slot at the festival.​

“‘Fifteen’ was a fantastic piece for us,” Woods said. “We set out to create a meaty documentary piece about paintball’s most iconic team of the modern era, with an aim of paying back the team for everything they have done for us as a brand and for the sport as well as highlighting one of the sport’s most incredible achievements.”

As more and more brands see their customers in a different light — as fans as much as buyers — brand films like ‘Fifteen” will likely have place of growing importance in the marketing toolbox.

You can watch the full “Fifteen” film on YouTube.


Dan Napoli is Hurrdat’s Director of Visual Storytelling. He is a writer, producer, film director, and film editor. Over the last decade, he has directed nearly a dozen brand films for sports and finance clients. He lives in Omaha with his daughter and their beagle, Max.

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