Behind the scenes:
Sustainable living, together. The Achmea way.
Jasper Claus about the Grand Prix winning production
With an impressive and touching image film, Achmea Insurance has won the Grand Prix for Corporate Media this year. The production entitled "Sustainable living, together. The Achmea way", directed by Hugo Keijzer and produced by 1Camera from the Netherlands, aims to convey the emotional essence of the brand and to communicate to internal as well as external stakeholders what Achmea stands for.
Featuring a strong and compelling visual language and underpinned by emotional sound, the film tells five fateful stories that are inspired by actual events and were cross referenced to actual Achmea insurance cases in order to cover each of the different branches of the insurance company. The different protagonists experience, for example, a devastating fire, a car accident or a ransomware attack on their own company. But even moments that seem beautiful at first glance, but can nevertheless scare those affected, are part of the storyline: for example, the impending retirement or the unexpected birth of triplets. Challenging and sometimes worrying turning points in life, at which one is dependent on support and assistance. What these individual stories all have in common is the wave of solidarity their protagonists receive from their environment after these events take place and of course the support of insurance company Achmea.
The story shows how important mutual cohesion and care for each other are and that a stable and reliable insurance system can make a major contribution to solidarity within society.
In addition to one of the Grands Prix at the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards, the team behind the production also takes home a range of further awards: a Gold Dolphin in the category “Imagefilms”, a Silver Dolphin in the category “Branded Content Videos” and two certificates, one in the category “Marketing Films B2C” and the other one in the category “Corporate Videos”. Congratulations!
- 1 Storytelling was central to this project, how did you ultimately decide which of the many potential stories you would like to tell and how was the whole concept developed?
Achmea, the largest insurance company of the Netherlands, briefed us for a new corporate film. Not to sell more insurances, but to make the target audience aware of the power of a strong insurance company.
When we started our research, we quickly found out that an insurance is not just about self-interest and risk aversion but more about solidarity and continuity. The value and purpose of an insurance system, should be that, through a mechanism of well understood self-interest (I insure myself in case something happens to me), it actually promotes both solidarity and continuity within society. Even though you insure yourself out of self-interest, the system of solidarity & continuity benefits society as a whole. So, we wanted to make a film that inspires people, showing them, they can do more than they think, when you work together.
Central to excellence in the execution of a creative concept for film is to us: authenticity. We believe ‘truth to be stronger than fiction,’ so in order to create a film that delivers a memorable experience and emotional impact and is truly relevant to its audience, we must first of all find ‘the truth,’ or to put it more precise: apply our creative idea to reality and see how it translates. So we spent months looking for stories of actual people, whose lives had come to a halt in the face of a dramatic event and who were subsequently uplifted by the solidarity within their community. We reviewed hundreds and interviewed tens of people with heart-breaking and heart-warming stories, before arriving at a shortlist of 5 cases that were to be transformed into storylines for the film. The 5 storylines represent the different brands and sectors of Achmea.
- 2 For you, the focus of the production was to make a film that tells real stories and portrays real people. How did you manage to create this credibility and authenticity of the stories and protagonists?
After having chosen the 5 storylines, we then re-applied our storytelling process to those real ‘insurance cases’ and started working with a writing room and workshopped scenes with actors to re-create these real stories for the screen as authentically and truthfully as possible. In feature filmmaking and narrative work, this is common practice and the highest end in this field is characterized by extreme thoroughness in this process. We however, innovated by bringing this rigorous and time-consuming approach to corporate film, in order to create an experience that, unlike average corporate film productions, actually captures a sense of reality and creates true emotional impact, which is at the core at the film’s massive success. In short, we brought Netflix-level filmmaking craftmanship to a corporate film on LinkedIn.
- 3 What were the challenges in implementing the project and how did you tackle them?
One of our challenges was the fact that this production needed to take place in the middle of the strictest lockdown we had in the winter of 2020-2021, which included an infamous evening curfew, where a significant percentage of our scenes implied night shoots. Just like our peers around the world, we learned many lessons about hygiene and health safety on set. Practicing social distancing, planning crowd movements, health checks, but also the administrative requirements that come with temporary extreme measures. The importance of preparation and adaptability (to prepare in order to be adaptable) is probably the most valuable learning. Next time around, everything will probably be different, but what will remain is the need to push for maximum preparation and adaptability.
Another challenge we experienced is that insurance companies are usually not big fans of promotion based on people’s misery. Clients usually don’t want to display too many negative emotions that potentially could be linked to their brand. So, in order to manage the negative emotions that are created by the downturns in the story, and to support the feel-good ending rather than feel exploitative, we applied an old storytelling trick called foreshadowing. In only little over 1 minute of the film all characters go through a big life changing event. By showing a clock counting down we prepare the viewer for what is about to happen. The viewer gains foreknowledge. That creates a layer of suspense what makes them want to keep looking, but also manages the negative emotions (like being shocked) they experience while seeing the actual events, because it is expected. After the events, the clock starts counting up again and serves as a metaphor for solidarity, creating continuity.
- 4 Are there any insights that you gained from this project and what would they be?
We learnt a lot from the fact that the film was fMRI tested. The test was ordered by our client, but we were very happy they did, since it tested so well and showed how well our storytelling concept created the emotional impact it intended, we have become firm believers of bringing a thorough understanding of the emotional impact of a storytelling concept to the front of the process and move beyond just a theoretical underpinning of that impact, but also ground that theory in practice by working with a neuroscientific agency from the start of a project and for instance deriving KPI’s from benchmark example projects. Deeply understanding emotional impact, specifically in a true storytelling context, is a skill that grew during this project and that we will continue to grow going forward.
- 5 You have won the Grand Prix for Corporate Media 2022. What does it mean for you?
It means a lot! We’ve been entering and winning at Cannes Corporate for almost a decade and we are always very impressed and inspired by the quality of the submissions and winners: in that regard, we believe it’s the number one corporate film award in the world, certainly in Europe. We only won gold once before, silver seemed to be ‘our level’, so we are deeply humbled to win not only gold, but also the Grand Prix! It’s one of the proudest moments in our history and we also see it as a validation of our true storytelling approach to corporate film making, which we intend to keep developing and bringing further into the world of corporate filmmaking!
About: Jasper Claus
Founder & Creative Director at 1Camera
Graduated in Social Psychology, Jasper learned the film craft at NYU’s Film School, before starting to work for MTV in Amsterdam. He started 1Camera, a Corporate Cinema Agency, in 2008 and currently serves as its creative director. Under Jasper’s leadership 1Camera has become an international, award-winning corporate film production company, being recognized for its storytelling by non-other than Hollywood storytelling guru, Robert McKee, in his recent book, ‘Storynomics’.