This interview with Sunshine‘s Co-Founder & CCO Al MacCuish was originally published in the 2015 BOBCM Special D&AD Edition. It was one of 3 interviews where Jurors from the D&AD’s 2015 Branded Film Content & Entertainment category provided pointers about what they look for in branded content, how they decide what’s good enough to be a D&AD Pencil winner, the challenges they face and what they’d like to see in future work.
How would you define branded content?
Stories commissioned by brands.
What were you looking for from D&AD Pencil-winning branded content?
Storytelling of a high enough quality to compete with everything else out there competing for audiences’ attention.
What are the challenges in judging branded content?
Separating commercials from stories.
What makes something stand out from the crowd?
Authenticity of voice, quality of narrative and strength of direction.
What pointers or advice would you give to people creating branded content?
Start with the story. It’s everything. Concept, aesthetic and craft will engage audiences up to a point. Get them feeling something, changing their mind about something, inspiring them – only a story can do that.
What was missing from the entries in 2015?
Original voices. There were a disproportionate number of factual entries, which, on one hand, was great because we had real choice and the best rose to the top. The down side though is that those stories tell themselves to a degree – in as much as you’re documenting real people’s points of view and opinions then shaping them into a narrative. John Grierson, the man who coined the term ‘documentary’, called it “a creative treatment of actuality”. In the early years of documentary making, the editor had equal billing with the director in recognition of their contribution in shaping the story. It would be great to see more auteur-led pieces. The Miu Miu ‘Women’s Tales’ films were really original and a standout for that reason. More of that please.