A trend we often see in advertising these days is that companies are choosing to create short films for their products. The thinking behind this trend is bang on target. People connect with stories and characters, and if you can weave a narrative around your brand that resonates and creates empathy, then you are on the right track to win over consumers. The problem is that many advertisers and creative directors often think that a film is just an extended ad, and they couldn’t be more wrong.
The basic components of good storytelling are that the story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, compelling characters and some sort of conflict or journey with a resolution at the end. When a brand film hits all or most of those points, it immediately stands out, as is the case with Xcell Mobile’s new TVC.
The five-minute plus film shows a young man getting ready at home for a job interview; something it seems, he has been rejected a few times for. He has many cynical thoughts running through his head and his angst is visible. He looks back at his father’s life, a professional runner who won many awards but didn’t gain much else, and he feels dejected and hopeless about the future. His elderly and disabled father, played by veteran actor Munawar Saeed, senses his trepidation and tries to tell him that he must fight on and search for the champion within him. The young man leaves for his interview, and soon after the father realises that his son left his university certificate behind. In a bid to help him, he puts on his sporting shoes and makes a difficult journey to his son’s interview venue to deliver the certificate, so his son can have a fair chance.
The story itself had cracks in it, but I thought the storytelling was engaging. I see a narrative, where there is something at stake (the young man’s spirit and conviction), there is a race against time and there are characters that I care about and am standing behind.
The film was well executed from a visual perspective, the warm hues and muted browns maintained the mood and seemed the right fit for the story. The soundtrack was brilliantly constructed and really helped carry the narrative forward. I thoroughly enjoyed how the music changed rhythm and genre to match moments and emotions and how the sounds from the environment played such a key role in bringing to life the father’s journey to his son.
From the moment the father pulls out his sports shoes and dresses up to deliver the certificate a sense of drama ensues. What mode of transport will he use? Will Google maps take him the wrong way? How will he climb the stairs? I held my breath wondering, will he make it or not? It’s an ad film, and I knew he would, but the suspense was there and my heart did beat a little faster. I went on that journey with them and felt involved.
The film was well-executed from a visual perspective, the warm hues and muted browns maintained the mood and seemed the right fit for the story. The soundtrack was brilliantly constructed and really helped carry the narrative forward. I thoroughly enjoyed how the music changed rhythm and genre to match moments and emotions and how the sounds from the environment played such a key role in bringing to life the father’s journey to his son.
As good as this film was, there were some glaring flaws. The story needed to be thrashed out more, as the premise of what makes a champion was not clear. The film ends with the young man getting the job and understanding what his father had been saying all along; that you have to push yourself to be your best - except, in the film, we see the father pushing and not the son, so I am a bit confused about the value system here. The fact that the son gets the job after the interviewers realise who his father is, does not help the ‘be your best’ message either. Like I said, the story needed to have been thought through more.
The copy could definitely have been improved, as the dialogue in the beginning appeared preachy, and lines such as ‘jeet tumharey khoon mein hai, batway mein nahin’ seemed incongruous with what was happening. The same goes for the penultimate scene where the father meets the interviewers and a slightly ‘filmi’ and mundane exchange follows – a bit of a letdown after the powerful moments preceding this scene.
According to Xcell Mobile, the story serves as an analogy for how the company feel about their products and their innovations – they want to be the best. Once again, more thoughtful copywriting could have helped integrate the brand’s message into the film in a clearer way. From the product integration perspective, I appreciated the subtlety of how they used the phone in the ad. It was never in your face and became a natural tool to tell the story – a technique other brands can definitely learn from.
All in all, it was a pretty good effort and I look forward to seeing what else Manghi Communication Solutions (the communications team behind Xcell Mobiles) comes up with next.
Sheherzad Kaleem is a documentary filmmaker based in Dubai. email@example.com.