Royal Grolsch N.V. is using independent film to engage creative professionals and reach new audiences.

The Dutch brewery last year launched Grolsch Film Works as a platform to promote emerging independent filmmaking. The program includes production of a film and sponsorship of film festivals across the globe, including a new tie to the Sept. 6-16 Toronto International Film Festival.

The SABMiller plc unit created the program to bring its “choose interesting” positioning to life in front of artists, architects and other creative, urban-centric professionals as well as consumers who may not be familiar with the Grolsch brand.

“Our objective is to create a living brand experience,” said Thomas Kamphuis, Grolsch global marketing manager, who is spearheading the program.

Royal Grolsch kicked off the program with a partnership with Vice Media, Inc. to produce an experiential film by three international directors. 

Each director filmed a 30-minute segment in their home country. They included Harmony Korine (U.S.), Alexsei Fedorchenko (Russia) and Jan Kwiecinski (Poland).

Grolsch premiered The Fourth Dimension in April 2011 at the San Francisco International Film Festival. The movie has since been screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Moscow International Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival and other film fests around the world.

The film has been a success in terms of generating media exposure: Grolsch has gained coverage in more than 300 TV, print and online features as a result of the program. “We have already broken even in terms of media value compared to the production value” of the film, said Kamphuis.

Royal Grolsch is supporting The Fourth Dimension  and the film industry by sponsoring film festivals around the world. Those include SFIFF, the Brooklyn Film Festival and next month’s Milwaukee Film Festival.

The company funded the SFIFF sponsorship out of its global marketing office in The Netherlands, while Grolsch’s local marketing offices are spearheading the other ties.

“The San Francisco International Film Festival was a success, and our U.S. team followed it up with festivals in Milwaukee and Brooklyn,” said Kamphuis, who originally partnered with SFIFF due to the festival’s credibility.

The sponsorships afford pouring rights and exposure at opening night and after party events. Grolsch activates the ties with roving reporters who capture content for and the brand’s Youtube page.

Grolsch is supporting TIFF with title of the festival’s Discovery Award “to give young filmmakers a stage in front of a much wider audience,” said Kamphuis.

Marketing offices in Poland and Russia also sponsor local film festivals to support the Grolsch Film Works program.

Grolsch touts the program through

Reaching A Wider Audience
To demonstrate its commitment to independent film beyond film festivals, Grolsch is hosting short film screenings at bars around the world. The company gives sales staff a toolbox that includes a DVD with 15 films and point-of-sale material.

“The trade loves it because it brings excitement to their bars. It also opens up the world of interesting film to consumers who may not normally have the opportunity to see smaller productions,” said Kamphuis

Grolsch rolled out the program last year with feature-length films, but switched to short films this year to allow for more conversations, he said.

“Consumers go to bars to have a conversation and drink a few beers, not to see a full-length feature film.”

Outside of film festivals, Grolsch’s local market offices focus sponsorship activity on music festivals. Ties include A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise in The Netherlands and the Off Festival in Poland.  

SABMiller acquired a controlling interest in Royal Grolsch in 2008.