Stella Artois bids to become movie producer

Stella Artois is one among more and more brands trying to take their promotional tie-ups with movie studios beyond traditional product placements inside the hopes of forging creative partnerships through exclusive content.


Stella Artois has helped fund psychological thriller In Fear.

The brewer has just kicked off promotions for psychological thriller “In Fear” following its nationwide release last week (15 November). It’s the latest project to be backed by the Stella Artois bursary programme, launched in partnership with distributor Picturehouse Cinemas last year, to fund feature films from emerging directorial talent.

The film, which follows a tender couple as they wander off within the remote Irish countryside, is being promoted through additional content across Stella Artois’ social media channels as a part of its wider Connoisseurs premiumisation strategy.

Phil Pick, marketing manager for Stella Artois within the UK, says the initiative, which has supported seven releases because it began last April, aims to deliver “standout” film events that may not be delivered via traditional movie tie-ups. It hopes to amplify the brand’s long association with film dating back to 1998 when it all started running adverts during movie programming on Channel 4.

Pick adds: “Activity comparable to our bursary programme enhances the association Stella Artois has with film, and here is something we’re committed to continuing.”

The intention reflects a much broader change in attitude from some brands and film studios exploring alternative models of film financing. The arrival of content marketing alongside the increasingly fragmented media landscape has meant marketers and producers are more willing to work with each other to achieve new audiences.

This year’s Hollywood adaption of F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The nice Gatsby, directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was rescued by luxury brands including Prada, Tiffany and Moet & Chandon after the film struggled to get off the bottom. All three brands were all in favour of the film’s development process starting from research to prop design. This behind-the-scenes involvement allowed the brands to profit from PR across the film’s stars sporting their products in addition to launch more lavish tie-ins corresponding to a ‘Gatsby Hour’ Moet pop-up bar.

Elsewhere, Heineken took an analogous approach for its activation around last year’s James Bond blockbuster Skyfall, which saw the logo build an international campaign featuring actors Daniel Craig and Bérénice Marlohe appearing content solely created for the logo.

Philip Hughes, an associate who specialises in media brands and technology at commercial law firm Lewis Silkin, says the last word aim for brands is to create alternative marketing models round the content they assist create.

He adds: “Very few deals are built around brands receiving takings from the box office. However, it may happen more someday. Brands are actually battling the prevailing financial structures in film to leverage their financial strength to supply more integrated marketing support.

“Investing in film provides brands with a much better quality off-screen content that’s credible as a chunk of entertainment in preference to purely commercially produced.”