This January, Brand Storytelling had the privilege of screening HP’s “History of Memory”, four stories sharing the common theme of the power of the printed photograph. Filmmakers Sarah Klein and Tom Mason showcased the project with Angela Matusik, Head of Corporate, Brand Content & Creative at HP.
It was there that Angela spoke on behalf of the brand and broke down the choices to pursue this creative and story-driven project for the audience. In that audience was Marcus Peterzell who, like the rest of the folks in the room, was moved by the work. Peterzell and Matusik connected then and there to discuss the potential future of the project.
Peterzell would go on to found and serve as CEO of Passion Point Collective a few months later, with client HP waiting in the wings with a stellar piece of content to share. The team-up resulted in a whirlwind year for History of Memory in the press and at the top of festival lists.
Brand Storytelling caught up with Marcus Peterzell and Angela Matusik to learn more about the continued success of “History of Memory”:
History of Memory has been celebrated in various arenas throughout the year. Can you elaborate on where for readers who are unaware?
Marcus Peterzell: One of the first things Angela and I agreed on was an aggressive film festival strategy. Often times this is a slippery slope as many festivals thumb their noses at brand funded films, but we felt History of Memory was a strong contender and could shine through the clutter. So, my Passion Point Collective team curated a target list of 20 festivals to apply to and we crossed our fingers and toes. Then the fun began as not only did we get accepted into Tribeca X with a very late entry, we ended up winning our category which was a thrill for the entire team. To be fair that branch of Tribeca was dedicated to brand funded films, but weeks later we ended up winning more festivals including Northeast and Savannah, and in those instance we were up against traditional independent films from amazing directors, but we kept coming up on top, a true testament to the film’s directors and Angela as the producer, a great film is a great film, period.
Angela Matusik: We had always planned to release the films through the brand's digital platforms -- Facebook, YouTube, and our site, the Garage -- but submitting them to the film circuit really helped us see them in a different light. By piecing all four shorts together into one 22-minute film, we created something that truly worked on a big screen. The audience reactions at each these events have been amazing.
The series seems to resonate with anyone who sees it because of its intrigue and humanity. How does one ensure throughout all stages of production that the end product strikes the right balance between existing to foster emotion/entertain and existing to ultimately market a product?
MP: Angela, you take this one!
AM: For these films, our goal as a brand was to solicit a reaction in the viewer -- to remind people about the important role printed photographs have in our lives. We didn't have a mandate to connect the stories to a specific product. Because of that, we could really let stories unfold and let our filmmakers, Sarah Klein and Tom Mason, lead the way. We knew we wanted to hit different beats with each one -- a mystery, a love story, a discovery, etc. -- and put our trust in their talents to research to find the most compelling subjects. But the true emotional balance comes together in post-production. The pacing of the film, the music that's chosen, adding humor when needed.
Did you know you had hit on something special from the outset? When it was completed?
MP: Speaking for me, I saw History of Memory already completed for the first time at last year’s Brand Storytelling Conference during Sundance, and I knew this could be a big winner, it just had that magic and emotional arc that captures an audience.
AM: The Brand Storytelling conference was a big ah-ha moment for us. It was the first time we were sharing the films outside of our inner project circle. We showed two of the four films and got such an incredible response. The community was so supportive and enthusiastic. It was then that we connected with Marcus and began to think about stitching all four films together to apply to film festivals.
Many believe that all they need is for folks to see the work they’ve put forth to connect with it. This was certainly the case with History of Memory, but what did it require to put History of Memory in front of people?
MP: One of our initial approaches was to go after media hard, so our team pitched out screeners of the film to dozens of entertainment and film writers and we found droves of writers who loved the film and reviewed it, we even ended up on the front page of the LA Times business section, we hit a chord for sure. Then to further reach our target audience we licensed the film to key VOD outlets including Docurama, Amazon, iTunes, Hoopla, and Vimeo.
AM: I should add that we did also release the films individually, on HP's digital channels. We connected each to a moment in time -- Valentine's Day through to National Adoption Day just the other week. This allowed us to catch a wave of organic traffic and promote them across all our platforms. With the release of each film, we've gotten smarter and smarter with how we promote them.
How do gatherings like Brand Storytelling at Sundance Film Festival benefit those seeking to share their brand-funded content and impact entertainment?
MP: Well for HP and Passion Point Collective, Brand Storytelling was the conference that brought us together, Angela arranged to screen the film and was open about asking for marketing and distribution suggestions and I raised my hand immediately so certainly this conference helped launch History of Memory, we thank you!
AM: Brand Storytelling is where our journey with this project began. It was the first time we were able to show the films on a screen in front of an audience -- and not just any audience, but an audience of our peers and smart marketers. Their insights, advice and encouragement are what propelled us forward.
About Angela Matusik
Angela Matusik is a digital content marketing executive who has developed, launched and re-invented brands, franchises, videos and digital products for over two decades. She spent much of her career leading creative teams at media brands, including InStyle, People and NBC’s iVillage. She joined HP in September 2017 as the head of brand journalism, a role which was recently expanded.
About Marcus Peterzell
Marcus is a leading entertainment marketing executive who spent the last 15 years leading agency divisions within Omnicom, including the last eight years as a Partner and EVP at Ketchum. Marcus left Omnicom to form Passion Point Collective earlier this year and in 9 months the boutique agency has attracted over a dozen clients including HP. Passion Point Collective has quickly become a leader in the brand funded film space along with its strong music and celebrity practice.