Spurred by everything from devising innovative solutions to working around tight budgets to raising the creative bar, Spain’s media and entertainment industry has grown significantly in recent years thanks to new narrative models and technology.
By blending the lines between production, creativity and marketing, many companies are creating new ways to continue to grow within the sector—including Spanish creative agencies El Cañonazo and El Terrat.
El Cañonazo was founded in 2010 at the height of Madrid’s economic crisis during a time when the industry was at a crossroads: it was becoming more digital and the online world needed more creative leaders in entertainment.
The company started as one of Spain’s first multimedia production companies, positioning itself as equal parts production company, agency and studio that created content designed to live across digital, mobile and social platforms.
“We made the most of distribution channels, shooting content to deliver as many products as possible, conceiving each of them for the most appropriate platform,” says Roger Casas-Alatriste, founder and director at El Cañonazo.
“We saw an opportunity to fulfill certain needs in the industry, when there was no allocated budget to do so. We offer strategies that not only extend our ability to tell stories across platforms, but also allow our clients to more easily afford our services,” says Luis Alcázar, creative director at El Cañonazo.
One of their first projects was #ConchiFacts, a campaign for Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X8 smartphone designed around presenting the device to a Spanish village. El Cañonazo produced a series of monologues starring one of the villagers pretending to be a social media guru.
“The series was considered a success story of viral marketing, of social media marketing and, later, of branded content,” says Casas-Alatriste.
Around the same time, El Cañonazo also created multiplatform universes for Movistar+’s original series La Peste (The Plague) and La Zona (The Zone).
“These projects would not have been possible without a customer as mature as Movistar,” said Casas-Alatriste.
For La Peste—a thriller set in Seville during a plague outbreak—the client sent a short brief requesting more spinoffs from the main story.
“We understood the brief immediately because the idea was what we had been selling and proposing for a long time,” says Casas-Alatriste.
El Cañonazo built the expanded narrative around the concept of a journey.
“It was all based on a round trip between the present and the past. We materialized this trip in a map interface containing many different formats,” says Alcázar.
They generated more than 350 minutes of multimedia content that was distributed in eight formats, such as Yantar —a cooking show in which chef Daniel del Toro updates original recipes from the 16th century, and Un modelo de ciudad (A Model City)—a documentary-style web series featuring testimonies, historians and the technical team of La Peste showcasing the past and present of Seville.
“We wanted to create a dialogue between current formats and 16th century content,” says Alcázar.
For La Zona—a series about an inspector who returns to a nuclear accident zone—the transmedia world revolved around an investigation.
“There was a manifest truth, which was the official truth, and another concealed truth that had to be discovered,” says Alcázar.
The team created a parallel investigation in La Otra Zona (The Other Zone), with more than 310 minutes of content distributed in 16 formats. The whole experience is led by a character who has access to restricted information, and includes storylines such as a fake documentary with testimonies from surviving characters.
“We are catching up with other countries as leaders in new narratives as the reluctance to transmedia—not only as a model of storytelling but also of production—disappears,” says Alcázar.
“The turning point will be when we begin to conceive projects for the entire Ibero-American market,” says Casas-Alatriste.
The Explosion of Branded Content
As Spain’s multimedia industry continues to grow, branded content also has emerged as a powerful tool for creative organizations, including Barcelona-based production company El Terrat. https://www.elterrat.com
Founded by late-night host and comedian Andreu Buenafuente, El Terrat always had a portion of its business dedicated to events and brands, where television, film, radio and theater were grouped into a department called Cosas (Things). Four years ago, it was transformed into its own branded-content department.
“It was the natural evolution seen by Andreu Buenafuente himself. We just needed to start generating content,” says Clara Valle, branded content director at El Terrat.
Unlike El Cañonazo, which was driven in part by Spain’s financial crisis, Valle sees El Terrat’s growth as an organic step forward.
“The crisis has had an influence in creating faster and cheaper content, no matter who was behind that content,” she says. “However, ours has been a necessary evolution that would have happened anyway.”
This concept of branded content is just starting to explode in Spain, as the lines between creative studios, media agencies, production companies and content platforms begin to blur.
One of El Terrat’s first such projects was Con Renault Zoe al fin del mundo (To the end of the world with Renault Zoe), a campaign created in collaboration with communication agency OMD that promoted the benefits of an electric car.
“We had to demystify the belief that an electric car is difficult to charge,” says Valle. With this in mind, they created a 10-episode show in which Spanish entrepreneur Pau García Milà travels in a Renault Zoe from Barcelona to Finisterre, home to “the lighthouse at the end of the world” off the western point of the Iberian Peninsula.
However, the turning point was the project Cinergía for Naturgy—formerly Gas Natural Fenosa—that was developed in collaboration with Arena Media and produced by El Terrat.
“The brief included the need to raise awareness among a younger audience. Since Naturgy sponsors film festivals, the idea was to link this message to their support of Spanish cinema,” says Valle.
The final feature and short films incorporate the signature style of many great figures in Spanish cinema, such as director and actor Santiago Segura, screenwriter Daniel Sánchez Arévalo and director Isabel Coixet.
The pieces give viewers advice based on genres such as comedy and science fiction.
Cinergía, which has several editions, is now recognized across Spain.
“In my opinion, it is our project that best meets all the features and requirements of branded content. We are very proud of how far it has come,” says Valle. “We all have to make our best effort for this to be the future, and make sure branded content is at the same level as other advertising campaigns. The more we work together and break the boundaries between players, the faster we’ll truly create a great branded content industry.”