Brand and Storytelling Collaboration Take Center Stage at the Women & Worth Summit

At March’s Women & Worth Summit in New York, Picture Motion’s Founder and CEO, Christie Marchese, moderated a dynamic panel on Corporate and Creative Collaboration: Reimagining How Brands Give Back Through Storytelling. The panel brought together Darlene Liebman, Founder of Creative Humans, and Susan Can, Director of Corporate Equity at Johnson & Johnson Global Marketing Group to talk about how brands are tackling pressing issues through film and documentaries.  

There’s a growing trend where brands are leveraging long-form content and documentaries to explore issues in a meaningful way. This emerging genre of brand collaboration is responsible for films like Patagonia’s Artifishal and Airbnb’s Gay Chorus Deep South. The film that took the spotlight at the summit was 5B, a documentary that Johnson and Johnson commissioned about a group of brave nurses and committed caregivers who opened the first AIDS ward in the world at San Francisco General Hospital. With 100% on Rotten Tomatoes -the film sent a ripple effect of emotion through audiences and it was eventually brought by Verizon. You can stream it today. The film finds increasing relevance today as we see healthcare providers on the frontlines with the COVID-19. 

When asked why Johnson & Johnson commissioned this specific project, the response is purpose-driven. “We needed to change the perception of nurses – they are the innovators in healthcare they really do change the trajectory of how healthcare is delivered. We wanted to really spotlight that,” said Susan Can of Johnson & Johnson. 

“The objective isn’t to sell baby powder – the objective is for you to love Johnson & Johnson and realize that they are a compassionate company. You feel like you’re on the same page and obviously they were very successful,” said Creative Human’s Darlene Liebman. The film has since been incorporated into the core curriculums of nursing schools and Susan highlighted that they prioritized a plan with deliberate screenings to make sure it made it broadly to communities.

When addressing an audience question about how to get more people watching impact films, Christie Marchese responded from Picture Motion’s perspective. “Audience identification is the way we look at it at our company. Who’s that exact audience that’s going to be your supporters and your evangelists. Who will help you get that message out there and what are the ripples outside of that the brand might be reaching. Find your community, there are a lot of word of mouth screenings.” 

The Women and Worth Summit sought to explore ways we can lead with purpose and use our collaborative power to move forward the issues that matter. This panel addressed just that and the role that film can play. “I think what we want to see is  more brave filmmaking to cover some of these issues and brave brands to step up and sponsor some of these issues and fund the distribution around it because it takes time,” said Christie Marchese. 

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