Motorola Focuses Spotlight On Brand At Film Festival

Lights, camera, and action! shot on a video camera phone. Motorola plans to throw the weight of its brand behind a digital short film competition at the Toronto International Film Festival taking place from Sept. 6 through Sept. 16.

Motorola will sponsor: the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival Talent Lab MotoFilm project for emerging Filmmakers; Motorola Trailers, a 30-second trailer filmed on Motorola handsets that runs at the start of select movies; and the Motorola/MTV "For The Reel" short film competition aimed at youth. TV and Web ads in Canada promote the Motorola and MTV partnership, highlighting the fact that Motorola phones offer video and music capabilities, as well as Web access.

Talent Lab is a four-day workshop that provides emerging filmmakers with the opportunity to learn from some of the industry's top moviemakers. Participants will make movies with Motokrzr K1m handsets featuring the latest video capture technology. Motorola has participated in the event for three years, but this is the second time the film festival will select some of the mobile shorts created by Talent Lab participants to feature as pre-rolls on every movie screening at the festival.



Three years ago, the original intent to sponsor the film festival had been to put Motorola devices in the hands of consumers and moviemakers to create awareness for the products, admits Colleen McClure, director of marketing, Motorola Canada. "Talent Lab lets filmmakers experience a non-traditional way to capture video and in turn, they give Motorola feedback on limitations and benefits of the product," she says.

This year, mobile movies created by director Matthew Swanson and producer Amy Belling, as part of their self-portrait Talent Lab project of 2006, will show as trailers at all gala and special presentations at the festival. Swanson's Tic Tac Toe, filmed on a Motorola handset, premiered at the 2007 South by Southwest Film Festival and was chosen to appear as part of the Toronto International Film Festivals' official programming for 2007.

Jamie Tedford, who recently left Arnold Worldwide to start the ad agency Brand Networks, says Motorola's connection with an international film festival speaks to the company's creativity and free spirit. "If nothing else, the consumer comes away with the perception that the quality of the video camera in the phone is worthy to become a prime tool in making movies," he says. "From a branding perspective it makes sense."

Film festivals fight for recognition and funding to offset costs--even the best known, such as Robert Redford's Sundance, which Tedford helped promote while at Arnold Worldwide. But Motorola, Nokia and others are trying to connect with a new generation of moviemakers through promotions with hip festivals and music stations.

As part of this year's Toronto film festival Vanguard program, Motorola hooked up with MTV to launch the "For The Reel" contest, in which moviemakers were invited to send in a script idea with an edgy theme. Ten story ideas made the cut. Each winner was given a Motokrzr K1m handset, with one-touch video capture technology and multiple exposure settings.

Selected short films were featured online for viewers to cast their votes. The winning video and a selection of the best submissions are featured on

Greg Gorbatenko, a telecom and media analyst for Jackson Securities, says the difficulty for Motorola has been finding success that compares with the "Hello Moto" campaign, which he thinks has begun to fizzle, along with sales of the Motokrzr. "I don't think participating in the film festival is a huge needle mover for the stock, but they're probably trying to get some positive momentum to move products off shelves," he adds. "Nokia and Samsung recently took market share from Motorola after it tried to put lipstick on the Razr and sell it as a Razr2."

Analyst firm Oppenheimer & Co. expects Motorola to report $36.8 billion in revenue this year, down from $42.8 billion in 2006.

Some think cozying up to a moviemaker could work to Motorola's advantage and increase sales and revenue by giving consumers firsthand experience with features on their mobile phones.

"I don't think it's a branding issue that hurt Motorola in the past, but rather [it was] not having the products to take advantage of branding and marketing efforts like film festivals," says James Faucette, senior research analyst at Pacific Crest Securities. "Their product lineup is relatively weak right now."

Faucette says cellular handset makers will continue to improve the quality with faster processors and high-quality imaging sensors. Bringing these types of capabilities to film festivals will help consumers become more familiar with products not widely used on phones.

Next story loading loading..