Stella Artois bids to become real movie producer

Stella Artois is considered one of more and more brands seeking to take their promotional tie-ups with movie studios beyond traditional product placements within 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 away within the remote Irish countryside, is being promoted through additional content across Stella Artois’ social media channels as element 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 can 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 equivalent to our bursary programme enhances the association Stella Artois has with film, and it is something we’re committed to continuing.”

The intention reflects a much wider 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 succeed in new audiences.

This year’s Hollywood adaption of F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The excellent 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 floor. All three brands were keen on the film’s development process starting from research to prop design. This behind-the-scenes involvement allowed the brands to profit from PR round the film’s stars sporting their products in addition to launch more lavish tie-ins including a ‘Gatsby Hour’ Moet pop-up bar.

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

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 across 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 one day. Brands are actually battling the present financial structures in film to leverage their financial strength to present more integrated marketing support.

“Investing in film provides brands with a far better quality off-screen content it’s credible as a work of entertainment instead of purely commercially produced.”