Impact Entertainment Inspires “Storytelling for Good” Award from Clio

Sarah and Tom on set with actor Ken Jeong for The Story of Cancer series for PBS. Spring 2014. The video was selected as Vimeo Staff Pick, and the series won a duPont-Columbia Award.

Earlier this year, Brand Storytelling partnered with Participant Media and SoulPancake to issue a survey conducted by the Harris Poll on the rise of “Impact Entertainment”, or the use of traditional entertainment to spotlight and impact social and environmental issues.

The basic concept of impact entertainment is nothing new. Documentary films have been using the medium of film to spread awareness and incite action surrounding their respective subject matter for nearly a century. What sets the impact entertainment being researched apart from the traditional is the source of its financing.

This year’s documentary film 5B, which tells the story of the doctors and nurses that ran the first AIDS ward in the country, was paid for by Johnson & Johnson. The multinational corporation’s branding and logos do not appear in the film. There is no promotion of its companies or products. Instead, Johnson & Johnson simply sought to fund a “hero film” to inspire viewers through demonstration of the values embodied by the men and women in the film.

This use of corporate capital to fund entertainment whose sole purpose is not to sell, but to inspire and incite social action, seems out of step with the core tenant of brands and corporations: profit. But in a time when more brands, media companies, and corporations seek to connect with an ever growing, socially conscious consumer base, there is strong recognition from the interior that time and money must be spent on communicating the idea that companies share their consumers’ values. Just take a look at some of these key impact entertainment survey responses collected by the Harris Poll.

36% of marketing executives surveyed projected increased spending in the development of impact entertainment.

45% of C-Suite respondents surveyed said they would spend more on impact entertainment in the next 3 years.

81% of all respondents surveyed believe that activism through entertainment has the ability to change the world for the better.

85% of all respondents believe impact entertainment engages with consumers in a meaningful way.

87% of C-Suite respondents believe their brand values are more important than quarterly financials.