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Passion Point Collective’s Brand Film Success - Q&A with Founder Marcus Peterzell

Jordan Kelley, Content Director,

The Brand Film Festival US 2020 awarded brands film honors earlier this May, across multiple categories. With each passing year, brand films get better and better, appealing to larger audiences and gaining traction as entertainment beyond the brand advertising world. This is due in large part to how people perceive and receive the content in the first place. That’s where agencies like Passion Point collective come in. Passion Point clients IBM and HP took home a win each at this year’s festival, due in part to perception surrounding the films. After all, getting people to convert and press play is over half the battle.

Brand Storytelling caught up with Passion Point Collective Founder Marcus Peterzell to discuss what goes into influencing viewer perception of brand funded films and the future of the industry:

Marcus - congratulations on having IBM and HP take home wins from the Brand Film Festival. How do you feel about having Passion Point Collective listed alongside those brands as a winner?

Simply put, it’s an honor, really, especially for an agency that just celebrated its first birthday. These are iconic brands with amazing executives we are proud to call clients…there was even a 4th film that won which I started at my previous agency, so pretty amazing. This came after another one of our films “Wake Up” was an official selection at Tribeca and “History of Memory” just won a Webby as well…what a year.

In your opinion, what makes an award-winning brand funded film?

It's always about the story, that’s the thread that truly makes it a film, and that story must have an emotional arc with a payoff at the end. That’s the magic mojo you must have, you can have brilliant images, moving music, a celebrity narration, but that won’t fix a film without a story.

How important is audience perception when it comes to delineating between a piece of branded content and something more elevated like a brand-funded film? How do you help clients achieve that delineation?

Great question. Some call this a gray area yet it’s really not, there is a huge difference between the two. Today’s audiences are savvy enough to easily distinguish between a long commercial that has some entertainment value vs a proper feature film. We tell our clients right up front that there are plenty of branded entertainment shops, but our mantra is to deliver a feature film that is NOT competing with branded entertainment, instead we are going head to head with indie and major film studio titles. Our key-art, trailer, distribution, PR campaign etc all mirror film studio output, which is not the scenario with the majority of branded entertainment.

The global pandemic has many brands looking to act with purpose. Do you think that as brands look to create more purpose-driven content that brand films will start to flourish?

Well this was a trend before Covid hit, albeit moving at a slow/moderate pace, and then Covid comes along and almost every brand is in the purpose driven content business. So yes brand funded films are a great vehicle for this, but we need a long lead time to produce and distribute content, and most brands want to pivot quickly. So for sure it will help, but our hope is that brands will embrace this relatively new format regardless.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give brands that have yet to break into brand-funded films but are eager to?

Ok I’m going to cheat and break my one piece into 3 parts:

  • Commit to a budget upfront that covers production AND marketing, don’t make a movie and then wonder what to do with it.

  • Work with an agency that has had a at least ½ dozen SUCCESSFUL brand funded films under their belt.

  • Do not push your brand into a story, find a story where your brand organically fits.


About Marcus Peterzell

Marcus is an industry leader in entertainment marketing who has successfully built and led award-winning agency teams both independently and within Omnicom, one of the largest advertising holding companies. Most recently Marcus was a partner and EVP of Entertainment at Ketchum PR as well as co-lead of their VR Practice, winning dozens of accolades including four Cannes Lions and a PRSA Silver Anvil. In 2019 Marcus launched Passion Point Collective, a new boutique agency that provides brands with next-generation entertainment marketing services and solutions.


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