Do films need to think like brands? Ron Howard thinks so. With every film project, (including an upcoming Mars project with P&G), he expects his team to think about its connection to consumers. A film project “might be funny,” Howard said at Signal 2020, “or a great vehicle for a cast member, and audiences will like it — but why are we making it? What are we saying?” .

Especially as entertainment channels proliferate away from theaters, filmmakers must think as brands and how they go to market. “Audiences tell us when, where, how, and why they want to watch our stories,” he says. “Brand thematics, particularly ambitious ones, are aligned with very constructive thinking about what customers really need. At the end of the day, we’re there to serve the audience.”

Watch more of his conversation at Signal 2020, below: