Visit Us

The Ideas Factory, Curlew Pavilion, Portside Business Park, 189 Airport Road West, Belfast, BT3 9ED

Email Us

Call Us

(028) 9073 0999


The Evolution of the Promotional Film

Corporate video. Sponsored content. Product placement. Promo film. 

If you’re part of an organisation, you likely need video content to advertise your offering and communicate your unique selling points to the world. But with markets changing and digital trends evolving almost every day, how do you keep up and create promotional content that stands the test of time?

Attention spans are shortening at an alarming rate and our lives are saturated with information from all angles. The consumer is faced with so many choices that they often don’t know where to look, or who to trust. At Whitenoise, we use the power of video to tell stories, to share information and to sell services that genuinely provide solutions for their audience. And above all we make sure it stands out from the crowd. But where do we start?

To understand why we produce the type of corporate films we do today, let’s take a look at where this go-to advertising tool has come from…

Over the decades, the promotional film has been on its own journey to becoming an accepted and necessary tool to win business, hearts and minds.


General Electric creates the first in-house promotional film called ‘The Home Electrical’, promoting  residential electrification.


‘Rhapsody in Steel’ was a car manufacturing film by Ford, using stop-motion techniques to show the construction of an automobile. The film was shown at the Century of Progress exhibit and attracted 5000 viewers daily.

Many more films were made to showcase the mechanical achievements of manufacturers before the Second World War, mostly in the United States. People became tired of the lack of human elements within such films though, and demanded a style more akin to Hollywood features. As a result, businesses changed their approach and became more creative with narratives, incorporating more emotional and human elements when promoting their business.

The tide was changing.

Early 1950s

The popularity of television overtook fairs and trade shows as the medium choice for advertising. There was pressure to create content in between television programmes and the format was therefore made more dramatic to fit the programming on either side of the adverts.

Previously, everything was scripted chronologically, so viewers wouldn’t get confused…no shot lasted fewer than seven seconds and every item in the manufacturers catalogue got some exposure. Now corporate films, or sponsored films, had to be creative, sensitive, written like a short story, paced like a theatrical drama, inquisitive like a post reporter, and full of the heady qualities of the feature film. 

Entertainment for the masses was the criteria of the day, and indeed for the next six decades.


Film became widely digitised and opened up a number of opportunities for organisations to produce films that were more efficient and cost-effective. You could shoot as many times as you like and the extra cost would be minimal. No more reels of film to cart about and keep away from sunlight! 


The rise of the internet globally alongside social media and video hosting platforms created marketing opportunities like never before. YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat all utilise video to influence and advertise to new audiences in staggering numbers. Facebook and Instagram offer paid advertising while Google’s technology seems to permeate every part of our digital lives.

So, what does this mean for organisations in the 2020s?


Competition is fierce across digital platforms, but your story is what makes you unique. Every one of us has a different journey, our own raison d’être and set of values. If you follow these steps, you’re sure to create a meaningful impact that delivers results.

Be Human

Simon Sinek talks about finding ‘the why’ behind your message, so ask questions of yourself as a customer. What are your organisation’s values? How can you share these in a motivating way that entices the consumer to invest in you? As the old adage goes, people buy from people, so don’t get caught up in the pre-Second World War approach of mechanical explainers, and speak from a human perspective.

Make the consumer feel something. Find something that people can relate to, and then connect it to your offering. 

Get To The Point

According to research, our attention span has decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8.5 seconds in 2015. The average attention span of a goldfish is nine seconds. 

The average length watched of a video on the internet is 2.7 minutes, so we recommend no longer than two minutes for a promo film. Keep your messaging concise, to the point and in keeping with your brand tone of voice. If it’s appropriate, everyone likes a bit of light humour but avoid high falutin language - no-one likes feeling talked down to.

Make It Memorable

With so much content shared online and across media platforms, it sometimes feels like nothing is original. There’s merit in looking at what others have done, and noting elements you like, or what you think could be done differently, but your offering is yours, and yours alone. Your story is what consumers are waiting to invest in, and that’s what will make your video different from the rest.

As clichéd as it sounds, think outside the box. Whack all your ideas down and chat them through with your team. No idea is stupid, as every thought along the stream of consciousness can lead to a lightbulb moment. Make it stand out, not with gimmicks, but with character, energy, solutions and most of all, fun! 

At Whitenoise, the best videos we’ve made have been when we’re all working in sync, making ideas a reality for for our clients. When the pieces all come together, and the final edit is complete, we all sit back with a cuppa (and maybe a biscuit or two) and get ready for the next one!

If you’d like us to help generate ideas for your next video project, we’ve got all the experience and creativity you need! Just drop us a line and we’ll be in touch for a brew and a chat.

Written by By Jordan Whitefield our very own Film Producer and Account Manager.

About Whitenoise 

Four teams. One studio.
At Whitenoise, we offer brand identity development and graphic design across all traditional and digital media, advertising for tv, press, radio, OOH, online and ambient. Our animation offering includes 2D/3D animation and motion graphics, FX,CGI and 3D visualisation. Our film team works with the latest technology for business and broadcast, we have 4k film capture capability, Steadicam, aerial videography and sound design. The digital team offer social media services including content creation, copywriting, social media management and digital advertising. 

For a full list of services, visit our website: 


  • Boesch, Clara, "The Origins and Evolution of Corporate Sponsored Film" (2014). Honors Theses. 482.

Further reading

Social Media Trends - What to look out for 27-01-2021

Social Media Trends - What to look out for

Read on to hear our in-house Digital Marketing and Social Media team’s scoop on the hottest social media trends for 2021 and how you can implement them into your marketing strategy.

Read the article
Huge, Enormous Exciting News! 13-01-2021

Huge, Enormous Exciting News!

Due to our continued growth, Whitenoise is proud to announce that we have expanded our creative offering to include bespoke Digital Marketing and Social Media services tailored to your business.

Read the article
Can graphic design save your life?  04-09-2020

Can graphic design save your life?

Shannon, our talented outgoing placement student explores how overlooked design has a life-saving legacy.

Read the article