Mini-Documentaries: Creative Storytelling for Brands

Written by on Wednesday, March 6, 2013


It used to be that 30 second ads were all you needed to show of your brand product, slogan or name on TV. Less is more. But TV ads are also short for another obvious reason. They cost money and are limited to the broadcasters specifications. Online however, many brands have begun to explore different options of telling their stories. One genre especially which has grown in popularity is the mini-documentary.

Mini-documentaries are generally between 5 and 20 minutes long and, in most cases, are more about stories and less about slogans, buzzwords and products. The most successful ones tend to focus very much on the people and the brands are only left in the background. Human interest stories are always more fascinating. When speaking through a character you can create a truly personal story which people can identify with. Advertisers are usually afraid of the word ‘documentary’ because it means that they are not in control of what is happening.

However, there are exceptions. The first two videos below are great examples of brands putting their trust in the characters and letting them say and do what they want, or at least so it appears. This makes the documentaries more interesting and gives them personality.

Painting Coconuts is a story about David Beattie, a miniature model maker, who is commissioned to create a miniature car track for Audi. Even though the film is essentially a promotional video for Audi, it is really the story of David. And it’s not all about success and great moments. It’s also about failure and frustration. It doesn’t feel like a promotional video, it actually has character and a personal story to tell.

Making of Makia Part 2, on the other hand, is a road movie about a couple of guys who are creating the Makia campaign. It almost acts as a extension for the Makia campaign, fitting well into the guerilla mentality of the brand.

And finally, What Most Schools Don’t Teach is a short documentary based only on interviews. Note that the characters in the video are identified only by their first name.

About the author

Matias is a videographer at KLOK. He’s a filmmaker by heart and spends as much time behind the camera as possible. He studied film directing and screenwriting at Arcada – University of Applied Sciences. Creating compelling videos and perfecting the art of online video storytelling are some of his main goals at KLOK.