Interview

Paella Today is the most ambitious branded content process that we have encountered

In an interview with MarketingDirecto.com Luis Piquer Trujillo, CEO Publips Serviceplan Spain, talks about Paella Today and branded content.

Luis Piquer Trujillo

Luis Piquer Trujillo

CEO Publips Serviceplan Spain and Executive Producer of "Paella Today"

If there is anything that characterises the world of publicity it is its increasing diversity. The digital environment and new technology have opened a new window of creative possibilities and have enabled the creation of new projects that were once unthinkable. But this diversity also emerges in the expansion of innovative formats, in part thanks to social media and the increasing saturation of the publicity market which has compelled brands and agencies to express their creativity to the maximum if they want to win over the demanding public.
One example of a hybrid format is Paella Today, a Mediterranean gastrocomedy with a taste of branded content which will make its debut very soon. It is a film that tells a story with top-quality ingredients: with the Mediterranean as a backdrop and the Valencian paella as the connecting thread in a story which blends friendship, love and humour to make for a unique recipe.
To find out more about this project, we have interviewed Luis Piquer, the managing director of the agency Publips-Serviceplan and executive producer of Paella Today, who talked to us about creativity, cinema, publicity and, of course, about what he promises to be the success of the season, Paella Today.

  • Luis, what is "Paella Today" and how did this endeavour arise?

    Paella Today is a feature film. A comedy based on a love triangle, which talks about relationships, love and polyamory, with a cooking contest (in this case, a paella contest) behind it all, and with the setting of the city of Valencia and the Mediterranean.
    It is also a social satire about how we take the little things too seriously. And about how we don’t give enough value to what is really important in life, such as love, friendship, solidarity or even the freedom to love and express ourselves freely. It is also a way to show a modern, rediscovered and young Valencia, moving away from the image that has been created in the last few years and that has nothing to do with the feelings of society in general.
    The script was passed to the agency through César Sabater, the film’s director, who worked at Publips-Serviceplan in the creative department. What was at first a script of regional character, after revising it together (we created 17 versions), turned into a more universal story.
    From there, we dived in and became producers and promoters of the project, because we wanted to do something big and attractive. Something for our area of origin, in this case the Mediterranean and Valencia.
    It took us a year and, without a doubt, it was one of the most ambitious projects we’ve had in our records, both on a personal level and for the agency. Many of the professionals in our Madrid agency, as well as those in Valencia, are dedicated to helping to make a project that was once a dream, a reality. Launching a film takes a lot of time and enthusiasm. But we believed in it and now the dream is a reality.

  • Is it a new format of branded content or does it go even further?

    Definitely, it is the most ambitious branded content process that we have encountered, but it still revolves around a cinematographic product which involves a lot of elements: with the objective of showing a new image of a young and modern Mediterranean, and of promoting tourism with supporting brand ambassadors and many other related products or content.
    But the film comes first. From it, other content championed by different brands or by ourselves have emerged, and will continue to emerge: a novel, gags that use brands for their promotion and the films promotion, video clips with music of local bands, short films about the city of Valencia and its diverse characters, blogs, social media, etc.
    Much of that content has different or more promotional objectives but does not lose sight of the initial product: the film and its cinematographic aim of entertaining and telling a new story. Sometimes the promotional content is less-related.

  • What are the differences between this type of branded content and the more traditional type?

    It is doubtlessly more complicated for everything that involves the making of a longer film and sometimes requires more risk and is more difficult to visualize its success and the final product.
    You pay to watch a film, you choose to see it if it attracts you… However, in publicity you have to look for ways to connect with your public and generate affinity but with a brand that endorses it.
    Of course there have been films closely linked to publicity like those of Lego for example, but in this case we had clear objectives: to showcase a forgotten character, to show the Mediterranean (a region, like the Valencian region) in a different way, to be able to laugh at ourselves and do something for our home turf.
    Using a larger format in Spain has been an adventure and we definitely won’t forget that, although it is a transmedia project with regards to what surrounds it, a timeless film, with a delocalised and voluntary audience, which can be seen whenever and wherever, through the different media or “the tube”. It is a film that has been growing with its additional content.
    There are already other cinematographic formats in publicity, fantastic short films, but in this case we started with a project that had no supporting brand, because the most important aspect was the story, instead of specific commercial objectives. After its production, various companies have joined such as brand ambassadors of the Mediterranean and Valencia and they have been making more content for themselves.

  • What have been the project’s greatest difficulties?

    The production in itself, taking the plunge at a given moment and the funding at the start which, in many cases, came from people who believed in this and who have joined us after. It is still a dream that we have been making big and which has been incorporating new support during the process of its production.
    Publicity is underpinned with brands, here we have started the other way around, we had a project with less commercial objectives that we have been creating, slowly incorporating brand ambassadors.

  • What opportunities does a feature film offer to brands?

    Here it isn’t about the film itself, where you can appear not only through product placement but also integrating your brand into the film to endorse its associated significance. However, from the film, the brands can make related content.
    There are gags from the film that have been made into branded trailers but always in context. If it is a tourism brand, it has its own content or gag showing the surroundings; if it is a gastronomic brand, a trailer is made with a scene of the cooking competition which is later branded and used for its promotion, among other possibilities…
    And, obviously the rest of the content: social media, trailers, cooking events, tourism events, cinematographic events, etc. which are also important.
    What’s more, it is a longer-lasting product compared to an advertising campaign that is created on a more restricted time-scale. And of course, the brands also benefit from being something which is not simply commercial content and we want it to show values that the brands can be associated with.

  • What were the motives for opting for this project?

    It is a more romantic project than a financial one and a dream of doing something new, and on top of that it is within two fields that you can develop and that you like (publicity and cinema). That made me want to do it. There are many professionals that have moved from one field to another, but it isn’t the same in this case.
    And why not? You have to make risky decisions in life, even though in this case it had been reflected on. But it was different, my desire to tell stories and for cinema was always there, ever since I broadened my studies to cinema at a young age. Being in life’s comfort zone, or in publicity, really limits you and making dreams come true is very rewarding, even more so when they are so romantic. And now it almost ready to come out of the oven.

  • What role does an agency such as Publips-Serviceplan have in a film like this?

    To bring it to life. In my case, as executive producer, I aimed to bring the film to life in all ways, from the script to its production. And Publips-Serviceplan has also done this. We gave it a commercial touch, more transmedia and it has brought innovation to the ways in which brands are endorsed, they could benefit in different ways.
    Publips-Serviceplan isn’t just the communication agency and promoter, together with César and myself, it is also an agency that brings innovation in multiple aspects, both in its commercial objectives as well as in a new transmedia communication and in a different and ambitious branded content, as well as in the way they promote it.

  • What role does an agency such as Publips-Serviceplan have in a film like this?

    To bring it to life. In my case, as executive producer, I aimed to bring the film to life in all ways, from the script to its production. And Publips-Serviceplan has also done this. We gave it a commercial touch, more transmedia and it has brought innovation to the ways in which brands are endorsed, they could benefit in different ways.
    Publips-Serviceplan isn’t just the communication agency and promoter, together with César and myself, it is also an agency that brings innovation in multiple aspects, both in its commercial objectives as well as in a new transmedia communication and in a different and ambitious branded content, as well as in the way they promote it.

  • What are the ingredients of this Mediterranean gastrocomedy?

    Showcasing the Mediterranean and its people, giving a young and modern image of Valencia. Resisting clichés, laughing at ourselves and adding humour. Entertaining. And although as a backdrop there is the paella competition, (which is still one of our most international gastronomic icons with the most promotional potential. In fact, it is a worldwide selling point) it is a universal film about human relationships.
    There is humour, polyamory, the freedom to love however you want, a campaign against established prejudices, where sometimes the most excluded people end up being those who teach us lessons… At the end of the day, we tell a story. All in an elegant humorous tone, sometimes reminiscent of Berlanga (a Spanish film director with a very distinct style).

  • Your journey includes both cinematographic and advertising training, are there more similarities between the two disciplines than there seems to be?

    Ultimately it is about telling stories. In solely audio-visual format, as is the case of cinema. And although cinema may have a more romantic aroma and is perhaps freer to tell these stories, publicity is also a field of expression if you have good partners or brands behind you. Even if advertisers sometimes disregard us a little, when compared to other artistic disciplines…
    However, many cinema or television professionals already told me that this formula of starting with the product and then looking for brands afterwards is what they are employing in other cinematographic products to get funding in other countries. In this way, the boundaries between publicity, culture and other forms of expression: art, architecture, fashion… are also being blurred for brands.

  • Is Paella Today publicity with a little cinema, or cinema with a touch of publicity?

    I would say the latter. The starting point is a story for cinema with an entertaining spirit and a desire to tell the story. Then the brands that want to participate are incorporated into it because they have some aspect in common and they benefit not only from the presence, if it is explicit, but also from the story we want to tell. And that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good product.

  • To what taste is Paella Today aimed at?

    It is a young and modern film. And although it is set in the Mediterranean and Valencia and there is a cooking competition behind the main action, in this case a paella competition which acts as an international hook (paella just like Italian pizza is one of the international gastronomy icons with an excellent reputation) is a universal story.
    Some have entitled it ‘Spanish Affair 3’ (‘Ocho apellidos vascos’ in Spanish) and perhaps there are some similarities in that it has a specific setting and in its comedic function, that much is true, bridging the gap in the budget or in its Mediterranean tone, but I’m not sure… I don’t see it like that. It is a story that could happen anywhere in the world, even if it reflects the Mediterranean, the local people and is filmed in Valencia.
    Our film has been concocted for a large audience… well perhaps it isn’t for children, because we decided to show the lifestyle of young people nowadays. And there are a couple of racy scenes, but that is also part of life.

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