It’s hard to believe that there’s a major sector of the UK screen industry off the radar. It’s even more bizarre that this hidden sector specialises in creating narratives for brands.

We’re talking, of course, about brand film. The Brand Film Industry Report, launched yesterday, effectively relaunched the sector’s identity and its narrative going forward.

Brand film has been largely invisible in industry data for the past 15 years, with the notable exception of our industry’s own Televisual Corporate 50. That’s nothing to do with a lack of prowess – let’s not forget it was a brand film that won London the 2012 Olympic Games. But it is to do with the absence of data, and this is what forges identity.

The new Report, the first of its kind since 2005, is produced by Moving Image with cross-industry support from partners EVCOMthe BFI and Televisual. It meets the challenges involved in measuring the sector with focussed data gathering and plenty of cross-referencing. It draws clear conclusions about the scale of the brand video industry in the UK and its economic contribution.

There are some big numbers in play here. We now know the sector has revenues in excess of £1bn. It is a major exporter, with 82% of production companies selling overseas. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, brands expected to use more video than ever in the coming year.

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The Report also helps define the product and the sector as a whole. Its evolution from ‘corporate video’ into high-quality branded content is absolutely justified. A key identifier is that brand film isn’t funded by the audience, but commissioned in to achieve a business goal. The return on investment is plain to see.

But broadcast indies might want to think carefully about dipping in to brand film as a sideline. There’s strong evidence it is a competitive market led by specialists, and PACT data suggests their members’ market share has fallen dramatically.

“EVCOM were delighted to host the launch of The Brand Film Industry Report 2020.  The report, produced by Steve Garvey of Moving Image, is an essential report assessing the health (pre Covid) of the Brand and Corporate Film industry. It is a vital step in understanding and recognising the significance and size of the sector and the opportunities that lie ahead. I urge the industry to engage with the next round of data gathering beginning this winter, to ensure our sector receives the recognition it deserves!” Claire Fennelow, Executive Director, EVCOM.

‘The UK’s brand film industry has a rich heritage and is today at the peak of its powers: full of brilliant businesses and highly creative, skilled filmmakers. This report is a milestone – greatly enhancing our understanding of the sector and powerfully making the case for its rightful place among Britain’s screen industries.’ Patrick Russell, Senior curator, non-fiction, BFI National Archive.

Jon Creamer