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Are Mad Men The Latest Doc Makers?

Photo of Jay A. Fernandez By Jay A. Fernandez | Indiewire July 13, 2012 at 3:32PM

Here’s a sign of just how popular a medium the feature documentary has become in the new millennium: Traditional ad agencies are making them.
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From 'Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare'

Here’s a sign of just how popular a medium the feature documentary has become in the new millennium: Traditional ad agencies are making them.

A story by Ron Dicker on Huffington Post takes a look at what these short-form pitchmen see in the long-form, nonfiction creative space. It speaks not just to the increasing popularity of and access to docs, but also to the narrative appeal of the format. For the ad men, it’s a delightfully shill-and-jingle-free zone (though product placement undoubtedly plays a part in some of the projects).

Dicker spoke with execs at Ogilvy & Mather, Mother New York and Goodby Silverstein, which have waded into a variety of non-traditional-advertising content, from short documentary to feature-length films such as the Tribeca Film Festival premiere “Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story." Ogilvy Entertainment's indie-film division Aisle C Productions co-produced the feature doc “Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Health Care,” which played at Sundance this year.

Here’s the meat of it:

Of course agencies can reap returns beyond connecting consumers to goods and services. The films might generate profit through viewing platforms like iTunes and Hulu, Zellerford explained. Winning awards and entering film festivals enhance an agency's brand. And if clients can see that the agency is capable of capturing viewers' attention for 90 minutes, they can imagine what the agency could do in 30 to 90 seconds, he added.

Original content "shows us as a creative company pushing what can be," said Rob Baird, the creative director at ad agency Mother New York. "It also lets clients who are coming to work with us know and expect that we will not just bring typical solutions."

Baird's agency recently teamed with Animal New York to produce “Boxing Lessons,” a widely-viewed profile of a boxing trainer who belittles his white-collar clients. The agency plans to continue making vignettes about New York. Baird said passion projects help feed the aspirations of Mother creatives beyond advertising.

Read the full article at Huffington Post.

This article is related to: News, Documentaries