WEDNESDAY 21 FEB 2024 9:30 AM


Katrina Marshall explores the value of investor days and the enduring appeal of using film to inspire and engage.

In a now viral TED Talk, famous African writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warned against the danger of “a single story”. She cautioned that a narrative told from only one perspective robs the subject about whom the story is being told of agency, and the audience of a complex and layered comprehensive presentation.

This is even more applicable in the world of corporate storytelling. When set the task of breathing life into pages of graphs and formulas, the requirement is to tell a several stories that bleed into a single over-arching narrative to varied demographics of investors and audiences. Much like the title of a recent award-winning film, it can feel like talking to: “Everything Everywhere All at Once”.

Thus was the situation when Moody’s Corporation engaged the services of Brunswick Advisory Group in 2022 to tell their investor story.

Moody’s Investor Day is a tent pole event on the corporate calendar. Investors are shown how Moody’s plans to deliver value to all their stakeholders. It is an opportunity to give them an immersive experience of the company’s financial performance, strategic direction, culture and vision for the future.

At the beginning of the five-month project – from brief to delivery – it was decided that a series of six short films would best demonstrate these goals. But under the baton of Sonal R. Patel, partner and group head of creative at Brunswick Group Advisory, and her team, and with the collaboration of what she calls a sophisticated and savvy client, the delivery for Moody’s Investor Day became a master class in humanity, brand leveraging and at its core: delivering a compelling and timely story. “You build connections with even your most critical stakeholders through effective storytelling,” Patel says. “You can build analytic connections; engage the intellect; present information in a narrative format.

“Companies can foster analytical connections with their investors and film content seamlessly can articulate complex financial data and investment strategies and growth trajectories and investors are then able to dissect and comprehend critical information slightly differently. It sort of paints a picture.”

Engaging the on-screen talent of colleagues from across the globe and confirming the deliverables of the brief – or as Patel calls it ‘The Project Bible’ - the Moody’s Investor Day films began to take shape, with the pressure of the importance of this annual point of contact bearing heavily on client and agency alike.

Yet the human aspect of the narrative remained at the core of the deliverable, with the affable and easy-going Patel noting that: “Having evidence and seeing something in action is how you really bring the investor information to life. Creative, evidence-led storytelling through film gives you an avenue to really vividly illustrate a company’s purpose and trajectory and bring to the screen their broad bench of talent from around the world.

“Compelling visuals and people–led testimony means that you can showcase the impact of your people and your investments and enhance investors understanding and their confidence in a company’s direction, geographic spread, products, people and services. Film is a demonstration of all that data.”

Moody’s Investors’ Service provides investors with credit ratings, risk analysis, and research for stocks, bonds, and government entities while Moody’s Analytics provides financial intelligence and analytical tools to help business leaders make better, faster decisions and build successful strategies.

Patel adds: “Those stakeholders are intensely scrutinizing companies’ results and this is a really high stakes environment. Our clients are continually reviewing their approaches to persuade and excite and to retain attention through some dense Powerpoint presentations - over several hours - and amidst these tactics, the one enduring tactic that stands out is storytelling.”

With the brief set, talent secured, narrative agreed and state of the art cameras and software employed, filming began in New York and London across three months. Three main films showcased Moody’s two business segments: Moody’s Investor Service and Moody’s Analytics, as well as ESG, which is of huge interest to investors. Three more films brought attention to the crucial functions of finance and strategy, tech and inovation, and most importantly, Moody’s people and culture (DE&I).

“I’m a scrupulous editor, as are my colleagues, so that’s one thing,” Patel wastes no time in asserting, before quickly adding: “When you work on an investor day you are working so closely with your client and you are aligned at every point so there is always some give and take.”

The Moody’s Investor Day content was viewed over 380,000 times, to the delight of its principals. Further cementing the value of the storytelling film strategy, this campaign won a gold award at the 2023 Lens Awards for ‘Best video targeted to the investor audience.’

Sweeping drone shots of rolling countryside; wide shots of smiling farmers; the intense concentration of a colleague fiddling with intricate transactions and establishing shots of some of the world’s most famous landmarks...each component was a well-greased cog in the wheel of this narrative. Moody’s senior vice president, investor relations, Tyra Whelton, says: “As a refreshing, modern and exciting take on Moody’s, Sonal and the Brunswick Creative team really helped set the stage for the deep and rich conversations we looked to have at the event. The films been a resounding success.

“The videos, including sizzle reels, have been viewed over 380,000 times,” Whelton continues. “They were not only a major hit with our Investor Day audience, they are also being repurposed internally, from product marketing videos to townhall meetings.

“It really goes to show the power of engagement and the importance of adapting a communication strategy to suit your audience.”

Delighted but gracious in her response to the award and calling it an important moment in time for Moody’s, Patel is keen to point out that while she and her team worked hard on this project alone, the Moody’s team went flat out on this project, alongside business as usual deliverables.

While advising those who are reluctant to join the film trend to start with the ‘softly-softly’ approach, she is boldly optimistic for the future of corporate brands understanding the need for this method of storytelling. She says: “We have very sophisticated clients who understand film and storytelling. The businesses aren’t really a problem, so many clients have very sophisticated brand design video teams and leverage it very well.

“I think if you have a leader who doesn’t love performing or being on camera, that can stymy your growth rate,” Patel continues. “But, actually, today most big business really want to leverage film more. Understand that it can help, but also understand that it can hurt.

“Of course, people want to make maximum impact, so they have to think very carefully about it.”