Brand films span myriad topics and content areas, from crisis and corporate activations to diversity issues and purpose-driven initiatives.
WINNER: Beautiful Coffee
Upwork and Upwork-in-House
When Upwork, the “world’s work marketplace,” decided to celebrate International Coffee Day with its Wake & Make campaign, the goal was to elevate entrepreneurship and independent talent. Central to that effort was a film profiling one independent coffee roaster, Oakland’s Red Bay Coffee.
The company turned to independent filmmaker A.J. Riggins, who is on the Upwork platform, to tell Red Bay’s story. The company’s tagline, “Beautiful Coffee to the People,” pays homage to a quote by Black Panther Party founder Huey Newton and was the inspiration behind the film. Supporting the Black community of Oakland is at the heart of everything that Red Bay does, from giving the community an inviting place to gather to training felons who have completed their sentences to become baristas. The film also highlights new ways of working broadly and the magic that may result.
3M with Ketchum, Generous Films and Passion Point Collective
WINNER: The Unspoken Curriculum
The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation and Edelman
While school curriculums have been the subject of much legislative and media interest this year, a voice that is often missing from the conversation is students — in particular, Black students. With its focus on making schools healthier places for Black students’ minds, the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation wanted to give them a platform to speak.
In The Unspoken Curriculum, a mother asks her son what he learned in school that day. His answer is, in part, that “we can pretend the past is past/and not still present in plain sight,” and it is the beginning of a continuous spoken-word poem, recited by New Orleans students of different ages. It powerfully and movingly shines a light on the space that exists between the official curriculum and what students actually learn in classrooms. The two-and-a-half minute film ends with an urgent call to help the foundation rewrite the unspoken curriculum.
Sephora and Vox Media with Vox Creative + Digitas
WINNER: Messania’s Story
Discussions around the topic of female genital mutilation (FGM) are difficult and often uncomfortable. World Vision used a nearly 20-minute film narrated by Messania, a woman from West Pokot in Kenya, to place the act and the damage it causes in a greater context, as FGM enforces attitudes that view girls as property. Messania’s account of her life, including her decision to accept money for performing FGM on girls, is powerful, and the tale ends with Messania and other community leaders deciding to reject the practice.
World Vision’s Strong Women, Strong World campaign addresses gender inequality by working with entire communities — women, girls, men and boys — to transform discriminatory practices together. Messania’s Story aired at the organization’s national conference designed to bring together women, men and young people to learn, connect and take action on issues relating to women and girls around the world.
WINNER: A CODA Story
Google and Google Brand Studio
A CODA Story is a 90-second look at the life of Tony Lee, a Google employee, who became a new father during the pandemic. Lee’s parents were both born deaf, but he has full hearing (CODA is a common acronym for “child of deaf adults”). The video shows how Google’s assistive technologies, specifically Live Caption and caption in Google Meet, helped Lee’s parents bond with their first grandson during COVID-19.
Lee is Asian American, and A CODA Story is also an important moment representing intersectionality. The film was launched during the Academy Awards, and Google partnered with ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to provide closed captioning for the event and, for the first time in telecast history, audio descriptions for blind and low-vision viewers.
Google and Google Brand Studio