What is microfilm advertising?

Have you ever caught yourself, after you watched a video, thinking „oh, what a touching story!“ or „I know exactly how does that guy feels..“, or „wow, amazing what people are able to do!“, or even forwarded it to your friend or shared it on a social network despite of knowing it is an advertising? So, this could be a microfilm.

Ok, but what is that?

Microfilm is a form of product placement. It is a short video with an identified sponsor, usually produced by a professional team. It tells a story and integrates a brand message into its storyline. Watching a microfilm leaves a deep impression, even to the extend you tend to share it with others (Well, if it is a good one). Primary difference from traditional short film is its extensive distribution through social media. Thus, microfilm is meant to be watched on computer screen or mobile device.

BMW pioneered microfilm industry in 2001 by the series called “The Hire

And what makes people share it?

According to the research of two Taiwanese universities, a viral nature of spreading microfilms is induced by its entertaining storyline that can “transport“ viewers into its narrative world and make them feel what characters feel. If viewers enjoy the video, they share it with their friends. At the same time, viewers’ attitude toward the advertisement improves which indirectly creates a better attitude towards the brand. By further online sharing can the microfilm reach more targeted audience.

What advantages microfilm offers to advertiser?

Microfilm has a short duration (varies from 30 seconds to 15 minutes or sometimes more) and thanks to that viewers can watch it from anywhere on their mobile devices. Production cycle of the film is short which significantly reduces also its cost of production. Moreover, if viewers find the video entertaining enough to pass it around, the cost to reach a large audience is minor (huge advantage comparing to traditional mass media advertising).

Why companies should use them?

Simply, it can be a lot of bang for the buck! Relatively low investment + smart use of social media = decent brand exposure among target group. This is why microfilm advertising presents an opportunity also for brands that cannot afford mass media promotion. Moreover, increasing time people spend watching online videos hand in hand with the rise of mobile online communication especially between young consumers (the same who are becoming immune to traditional advertising) makes microfilm a promising marketing tool.

There is no doubt, that in microfilm production creativity and a unique ideas are essential. It has to tell a story that will make viewers feel connectedset the brand apart from competitors and stir up a discussion. Before a company decides to give it a try, it could be useful to answer questions like:
What kind of products and brands can go for this kind of advertising?
Is it more suitable for services or consumer goods?
How to place the products and brand into the story without putting off the audience?


Chen, T. and Lee, H. (2014) Why Do We Share? The Impact of Viral Videos Dramatized to Sell: How Microfilm Advertising Works. Journal of Advertising Research, 54 (3). 1-14.

Hudson, S., and D. Hudson. (2006) Branded Entertainment: A New Advertising Technique or Product Placement in Disguise? Journal of Marketing Management, 22 (5/6). 489–504.

Research Papers Center (2011) Micro-film advertising and marketing an urgent need to raise the threshold. Available from: http://eng.hi138.com/computer-papers/network-marketing-papers/201109/343658_microfilm-advertising-and-marketing-an-urgent-need-to-raise-the-threshold.asp [Accessed 3 November 2014]

Wenpeng, H. (2012) Micro-film advertising getting popular. Available from: http://en.ce.cn/Insight/201201/11/t20120111_22991381.shtml [Accessed 3 November 2014]



  1. dasamuzikovaasa · November 17, 2014

    I wrote about this type of product placement in my diploma thesis, too. The Hire series was incredibly successful – more than 100 million viewings, exceptional brand strengthening in the US and more than 40% saving of the cost of the marketing budget – because of the product (limited edition of BMW cars) and bunch of celebrities (Guy Ritchie, Madonna, Ridley Scott, Clive Owen etc.). I like “The Star” most: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tDg1YKp8M0.

    I think that funny, educative, interesting content – strongly shareable – is a good way to reach the target group with a communication message.


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