In June and July this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic was causing lockdowns worldwide, Vero’s Thailand office created a campaign for Dell designed to inspire creativity, both despite the difficult times and in response to them.
“Dell Your Story” (a play on the phrase “Tell Your Story”) invited aspiring university-level filmmakers to produce a short film using multi-screen techniques for a chance to win scholarships and other prizes. Pawares Wongpethkao (aka Note) conceived and led this campaign.
It started with COVID-19, and our recognition of the limited channels we had available for marketing communications during this time. Dell was interested in tapping into the university student market, and this was a way to associate their brand with creativity and versatility in a way that was supportive rather than overtly promotional.
What were the submission guidelines, and how did they affect the films?
Each short film had to align with the multi-screen theme. That means that at least some parts of the film should have the screen split into two or more distinct shots. Multi-screen allows films to show conversations and other interactions among multiple characters in the same scene without all of them being physically present, such as by displaying conversations via video chat or text. It can also showcase parallel stories happening simultaneously in separate locations, without having to cut between the two.
This means that multi-screen films could have multiple characters onscreen and interacting with each other while complying with social distancing restrictions. It also challenges filmmakers to be innovative in order to construct a narrative that is both compelling and easy to follow using multiple screens, which influences the stories that are told.
Many of those stories reflect the nature of communication and socializing during lockdown, which was often limited to phones and laptops. During this time, film crews could not go out in public with more 5 people, which meant that film and TV series production was paused. But we knew that people still wanted to make films and express themselves, so the campaign asks them to make the best of the unfortunate situation by creating films that make more sense in this “new normal” context than they would have before.
Having watched the completed films, I found that in many cases the ways they found to work within the limitations of lockdown made them more interesting and impressive.
Why did you choose to work with Studio Commuan and Madeaw?
Madeaw is a well-known Thai director who made the film ‘Love of Siam’. Later in his career, he started Studio Commuan with the aim of improving the Thai film industry through such methods as training the new generation of filmmmakers and educating the market about how Thai film can extend to the international level. That made Studio Commuan a great fit for this campaign, as they had connections within the industry and at university film programs.
But of course, we also sent out a press release to mass media and engaged directly with film-focused university groups.
What activities did Studio Commuan take part in?
We worked with Studio Commuan to organize live video sessions with well-known industry figures, including a scriptwriter, an editor, a post-production technician, a director (Madeaw himself), and a producer, in order to share their experience and offer advice on making films and getting started in the industry. In the final session, they screened the winning films and described why they were chosen.
Following the campaign, we published all of the film submissions on Studio Commuan’s YouTube channel and asked the public to vote for their favorites. Besides the scholarships awarded to top films, each one became part of the filmmaker’s portfolio. Studio Commuan also gave participating teams a certificate that qualifies them as completing an internship program, which they can use as a reference to launch their careers.
How were you able to measure the campaign’s success?
The number of submissions is one way that we measured success. A total of 52 filmmaking teams joined this campaign, nearly twice what we expected. The high number of engagements and positive comments from Dell stakeholders such as their sales team and channel partners was another way. And finally, Dell decided to replicate this campaign outside of Thailand, which is a great sign that they view it as a success.
Why do you consider this campaign an effective promotion for Dell?
For Dell, the campaign was about positioning, since the videos themselves were not required to promote or feature Dell products in any way. Nonetheless, we saw the filmmakers choosing to use many creative ways of promoting Dell products through their stories – sometimes humorous, sometimes dramatic. And since these creative university students are eager to share the work they’ve done, Dell’s brand reputation received a boost among university audiences for sponsoring that work.