‘ShapeShifter’: Are Short Films the Future of Advertising?

Published 4 years ago by , Updated October 30th, 2012 at 7:51 am,

ShapeShifter short film Audi commercial ShapeShifter: Are Short Films the Future of Advertising?

A short film is making some noise in the advertising markets with its breathtaking visual effects and awe-inspiring poetic nature. The short film by Charlex is called ShapeShifter and it is (unofficially) an advertisement for a sports car.

However, the story here is the future of advertising. You may have seen a few advertisements that disguise themselves as short films in the pre-roll at your local movie theater. There is a popular one currently running that explores the history of Barilla as a staple in family kitchens for decades. It is a beautiful shot short film with a great sense of history.

ShapeShifter takes an even more subtle approach, by only briefly showing a car at the beginning and end of the film. The rest of the short is an atmospheric journey through nature as exhibited through a series of CGI animals. All the adjectives a car company would hope to supplement their latest vehicle with are present – elegance, power, speed and grace. But new media has given us an unprecedented look at what engages audiences from an advertising perspective.

Watch the ShapeShifter short film below and glance into the future of advertising.

Some might say the future is in holographic newspapers and mind-reading billboards, like Minority Report, but perhaps we should look at it from a more subliminal angle. People need to be immersed in their entertainment – Avatar proved this with revolutionary 3D. Audiences are tired of being told what to buy and how to use it. Innovation lies in a field of creation that is nearly impossible to crop. One can only pick at it and hope the seed they choose will spread into a field, or audience.

Commercials are pigeon-holed into a 30-second time frame by the mainstream standards. But the ones that escape those boundaries and explore the human experience of witnessing something that cannot be explained are the ones that stay with us. Some advertisements find a way to do that in just 30 seconds, but advertising is a mind game, and there are no real rules. In my opinion, we should promote long form, subtle advertising like ShapeShifter and usher in a new era of intriguing and engaging commercialism.

Im Here Spike Jonze ShapeShifter: Are Short Films the Future of Advertising?

Just take a look at the Spike Jonze short film I’m Here from last year. It was sponsored (and arguably commissioned) by Absolut Vodka, yet the characters never sport an Absolut bottle. Short film advertising is fast becoming an art, and one that stirs conversation when the film is over and the product logo mysteriously appears.

We often scoff at the integration of marketing into entertainment because it is done so distastefully. Movies will shamelessly plug a product to squeeze an extra buck or a television show will slap a massive sign on the wall behind the main character. Long-form advertising through artistic expression is, in my view, a suitable cure for heavy-handed marketing and product placement. We may not see this become the norm in a year’s time, but with some persistence, our advertising can be not only self-contained, but distinguished from the entertainment it supplements.

Do you want to see more subtle long-form advertising like ShapeShifter or is 30 seconds of product pushing enough for you?

Source: Vimeo via The Awesomer

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  1. See, a great Ravage CAN be made.

    • hehe, exactly what I was thinking.

  2. so does this mean if i buy it it will broke down on me and i can recycle it
    to some mech animal…il stick to the volvo

    Volvo no way it can be recycled ;)

  3. Is there a video link? Cause if there is, my Palm Pre isn’t showing it :(

  4. It doesn’t change my perception of the brand at all, but I enjoyed it and it will probably win some awards.

  5. Is it me or does the cheetah from the clip look a lot like cheetor from beast wars?

  6. So if it doesn’t advertise something how is it an advertisement? Case in point the Absolut mentioned above and the car…

    I mean how does that entice me to buy that sports car?

    Also the panther part reminds me of the initial WoW intro movie where the NE turns into a panther….

    Long form advertising holds nothing except artistic value if it does nothing to sell/showcase/promote the item.

    • Aknot,

      This was a showcase piece for the company that created it, not actually a commercial. I’m sure it would have been more focused on the product if it were.

      And to answer your question: What good are product placements in movies and TV shows? I’ve been seeing certain phones popping up all over the boob tube lately.


      • Vic,

        Understandable however if a short film is the future of advertising isn’t it still just an advertisement? If I dont like Pepsi a short film about Pepsi is not going to make me buy Pepsi. No matter how well it is done.

        I believe earlier examples are BMW and Guy Ritchie. (My wife works in support of the auto industry I still think I have the DVD…) While it was nicely put together it showcased the talents of everyone else more then the vehicle (IMO). Along those lines the product showcased is usually so far out of the normal consumers reach it falls short. (again MO).

        Product placements in movies and shows are a subliminal method in which to keep the item/service in the eye of the viewer. Some people are complete sheeps when it comes to this. Does it help sales? Ask Reeses Pieces….

        My opinion is if you are going to take the time money and effort to make something like this (for advertisement purposes) you need to make sure it can and will effect that sales line or it has failed as an advertisement piece and is just a showcase for the talent that put it together.

        • Aknot,

          I would say stuff like this would be reserved for high-end products. But if you think about it, they’re already doing this (albeit not as beautifully) for mass market stuff. When is the last time a soft drink commercial actually mentioned anything about how it tastes? It makes you happy/cool/hip/etc. – but nothing about the flavor. 8)


          • Yeah but I know what a Ford F150 can do over a Toyota. ;) Some things need explanation and push to get a better market share.

            Most of your everyday stuff that already holds a niche that probably wont/cant get any bigger then what it is when it comes to advertising, Coke and Pepsi come to mind, went away from the hey its better cause of this. Now they just attempt to keep their “face” out there so people dont forget them.

            However look at your beers, toilet paper and paper towels to name a few. I always see comparisons and how/why they are so much better then another brand.

            I did a little research on the Guy Ritchie/BMW movie thing and while it increased sales the first year by 12% within 4 years they had to scrap it all as it was loosing them money.

            So (MO) I dont see long long term advertisement as a viable medium for advertisement of a product. It appears to have a limited audience based on the product which in turn as BMW may have proved does not work in the long run.

            While it may look great and get their product out there if there is more attention towards to actual “oohs and aaahs” of the advert then more attention is given to that (and the people associated with it) then the actual product.

            Which hey if it gets more talent into the entertainment field giving us new stuff im all for it.

            6 of one half a dozen of another?

    • nickel,

      LOL, thanks, that was very cool!


  7. Hey really nice article, I share your thoughts, but I think that companies will try to take advantages of feelings or themes that are better expressed through shorts then just put their name on some really good looking short film.

    In the shape shifter example I think they tried to grasp to the idea of evolution & progress, but still not in the best way in my opinion.

    Awesome article thanks.

  8. There’re sharp.