Keynote: Morgan Spurlock — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Evette Tan of Connect with her by following her on Twitter.

12:45 —'s Kurt Vanderah introduces film writer, director, and producer Morgan Spurlock.

12:46 — Morgan starts by talking about how authenticity means everything in today's world. People these days can smell lies, and so we need to be transparent and open.

12:48 — Morgan talks about the idea behind starting the documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and how it was inspired primarily by the need to be authentic about how the industry of advertising and product placement works now — and also doing it in a fun way.

12:50 — Morgan: The idea really came from bad product placement.

12:52 — Morgan and his business partner had been talking about making a movie about advertising and product placement for a while now, and then they lobbied the idea of doing one where the entire movie was paid for. But when they started talking to product placement and advertising agencies he quickly found out that those agencies weren't interested in it. So Morgan started calling brands directly, and he found they were more excited about it than the agencies were.

12:54 — Morgan: From the time we conceived of the idea to the first brand that signed on — Ban Deodorant — was nine months.

12:56 — Morgan: Getting Ban on board helped get the rest of the brands on board.

12:58 — Morgan: The movie champions the brands, in every way possible. We've got more brand partners getting behind the documentary than any other documentary. The exposure – the authentic relationship between the brand and me — was a home run.

1:00 — Morgan says that people have become risk-averse and it comes down to the people in charge, to brands, to be authentic. The more brands can stay true to who they are and their mission, they get more chances to play within that space.

1:01 — Morgan begins talking about Comic Con and the experience of making that movie. He says that one of the things he loves about that space is how strongly people become staunch defenders of the things that they are passionate about.

1:02 — Morgan shows a new clip from a project he's working on: Smartish.

1:03 — Morgan: The whole idea behind Smartish is that we'll be brand-supported. We'll develop content with brands. The aim is to create smart, engaging, global content — something like a mix between Ted Talks and reality TV.

1:04 — Morgan says that he thinks great content will always appeal to a specific audience and the cream will always rise to the top. With what he's working on he thinks they can target very specific audiences, and by keeping it digital, the type of scope and scale of the project will make the project very accessible to their audience.

1:05 — Morgan wants to say there's a place where there's original content to be made — something that's real and authentic but also entertaining, in the same way that we can say “Columbia Pictures presents…” we can, with the project, also say “Coca-Cola presents…”

1:06 — Morgan says being authentic means coming down to the brand's core values. There should be knowledge about what the company stands for that can then inform how the content will align with the brand. Content is about entertaining after all.

1:08 — Morgan: The choice of platform really comes down to where there's a fit. We're platform agnostic; we focus on finding where we can tell the best story because different platforms can tell different stories better than others.

1:10 — Morgan: I think “authentic” is a better word than “more” when it comes to describing content. There was a democratization of creating content a few years ago; then there was a democratization of distribution. The next push is going to be the democratization of awareness, of curation, and brands will be big in helping push that along. That's where you have a real chance and a real moment to claim that space, both as a form of thought leadership and also so you can say “this is who we are”. We think this is done through not being afraid to innovate.

1:12 — Morgan says now is a great time to take risks because you can do things without a whole lot of money. The beauty of digital is it still feels like a small thing, that it's only digital — but it allows us to be more creative, to touch more people. And that's the best way to take a risk.

1:14 — Morgan talks about how success with Smartish will be about creating great content, continuing to entertain people, and building an audience.