The Stacy’s Rise Project is a grant, mentorship and community-building program founded in 2017 to combat the staggering statistic that female business founders receive only 2% of all venture capitalist funding even though the average ROI in women-owned businesses is two times per dollar invested. Through this vital CSR initiative, Stacy’s Pita Chips has supported thousands of women-owned businesses while offering critical resources to help them be discovered and successful. In 2022, the brand decided the story and impact of Rise needed to be celebrated and told to larger audiences, and partnered with award-winning filmmaker Nisha Ganatra (Prettybird) to create a short documentary for film festivals, profiling three extraordinary Rise winners (Sajani Amarasiri of Kola Goodies, Jocelyn Ramirez of Todo Verde and Maria Jose Palacio of Progeny Coffee).
But the documentary would be many months in the making. As Frito-Lay’s PR agency, we needed compelling creative content ahead of the film to generate media awareness and tease its upcoming release. So, alongside the production, we produced the Making of Rise, an equally powerful behind-the-scenes video to document the resilience of women entrepreneurs who have persevered through adversity, time and time again -- and shed light on the human struggles that others often don't see. Our video would showcase how the experience of winning a Stacy’s Rise grant has profoundly changed these women’s lives and impart both the vision of the filmmaker and Frito-Lay’s own Ciara Dilly and Tionna Cunningham on the Stacy’s brand’s deep commitment to championing women-owned businesses.
Our work on the BTS film began before the first call for applications to the 2023 Stacy’s Rise Project. So, you can imagine the challenge: How to create a powerful and moving BTS film that would align closely with the final documentary while it was only just coming together. This required a full understanding of the vision of the filmmaker and authentic knowledge of the Stacy’s brand and stories that needed to be told. Essentially, we had to create a more in-depth and provocative trailer than the actual trailer.
The Making of Rise would be utilized on the brand’s campaign website (StacysRise.com) and all of Stacy’s social media channels (YouTube, IG and Twitter). But importantly, the BTS had to be the provocative centerpiece that would drive our earned media outreach and success with an array of verticals including food, lifestyle, business, entertainment and the advertising and marketing trades. It had to be ready to run in all channels in tandem with the announcement of the 2023 Stacy’s Rise Project and help generate program awareness and applications from female founders. In addition to being the main draw in our targeted media outreach, we included it in our brand press releases to announce the program opening in September and again in January to officially launch the film.
Our production plan required a small footprint that would not interfere with the filming of the documentary – yet happen concurrently. It called for a small crew and a one-day shoot per subject, on-location, at three different filming sites in California, over two months. We knew we wanted the same BTS crew for consistency and look. We also knew that because the documentary was being shot within the subject’s homes and workspaces, including with their families and children, there would be times when even a BTS producer would not be able to fit in our subject’s living rooms or kitchens. Anticipating these restrictive spaces, we crewed just four people per location – producer, DP, audio and a grip with a small light cart. Our producer would often hold a monitor standing outside of the space or the home, on the sidewalk. We only had 20 minutes to film each interview, including location scouting, clearing backgrounds, seating and light set-up. Given that our interview subjects were also being filmed all day for the documentary, their lunch break was our only window. We appreciated that they were tired and not paid actors, so our interview list had to be concentrated but not rushed -- allowing the subjects to breathe, be emotional, authentic and in-the-moment. We began the edit while we were still filming, which was on a tight deadline but advantageous as we could see the gaps in emotion and information, enabling us to apply learnings and improve the next interview.
Perhaps our proudest moment was when the full-length documentary was screened at the Sundance Film Festival, and our BTS film was screened right along with it.
In total, the Making of Rise video earned over 621.4 million impressions and was featured in more than 1,400 stories as a result of our targeted media outreach -- and a highly effective vehicle in generating maximum exposure and interest in the full-length documentary. The BTS video was picked up in national outlets including Yahoo! Finance and Market Watch, as well as high-reaching local outlets like the Los Angeles Times, the Houston Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune.
The Stacy’s Rise Project received the most applications in the program’s history – 9,000 (up from 8,000 the year prior.)
The documentary is continuing to air at popular film festivals throughout 2023, fueling awareness and appreciation of the Stacy’s Rise Project and the remarkable difference the brand’s hallmark CSR initiative has made to the lives of many struggling female founders.
But best of all, the Making of Rise is a best-in-class example that proves how a behind-the-scenes video can be a powerful promotional marketing tool and workhorse that is pivotal to the success of a larger campaign.