'ShapeShifter': Are Short Films the Future of Advertising?

ShapeShifter short film Audi commercial

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.

I'm Here Spike Jonze

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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