What brands must do to leverage the full potential of branded content.
In the past, a 30-second radio spot or a 27×4 newspaper ad and (budget allowing) a TVC was the ‘marketing mix’ for a brand. Today, given the impact of the internet, things have changed – drastically and for the better. However, does this mean that the three conventional audio-visual platforms of TV, cinema and theatre have lost out to the impact of technology? Let’s take a look. Although we are experiencing drastic changes in audience behaviour, be it on TV, at the cinema or the theatre, there is still so much left to leverage, if done the right way.
TV – what to do
Audiences are engrossed in channels of entertainment other than TV and are often detached from the content the networks spend millions of rupees to create. The need is to integrate the brand with the content. We must evaluate opportunities, perform accurate risk assessments and deploy content that is designed to not only to engage audiences, but also deliver results. The key is doing this subtly and sticking to the core of the brand platform.
If you are about fun, you need to consistently leverage from fun oriented programmes. If music is your platform, then own it faithfully. Pepsi is a very good example of this. From Michael Jackson and Britney Spears in the West to the Vital Signs, Awaz, Battle of the Bands, Strings, Ali Azmat, Ali Zafar and now Pakistan Idol, Pepsi has been consistently and successfully engaging young audiences.
At the cinema – how to make it work
The entertainment industry is on a rollercoaster ride and booming like there is no tomorrow. This, fortunately, has led to the growth of cinema houses in Pakistan and brands are leveraging this development by investing an expanding share of their marketing budget in cinema audiences. However, more needs to be done and brands need to move away from cut-outs, standees and streamers or even just running a TVC before the film starts. There is no attempt at merchandising, perhaps mainly because most films are foreign, but why is no content being devised for films like Chambeli or Waar? Yet this is the way ahead if both films and brands are to benefit from each other.
Theatre – are we doing enough
With an active local theatre scene, another avenue has opened up for brands. For example, with Grease the sponsors leveraged the opportunity pretty decently. Shell, as the main sponsor, did so discretely and in perfect context – the car Greased Lightning had a number plate with the Helix logo and that was it! I was expecting to see a Shell petrol pump as part of the sets or, at the very least, for Greased Lightning to have been transformed into a red F1 vehicle. Even McDonald’s did it quite nicely by showing only the wrappers of the burgers the cast was eating as part of the act.
Leveraging entertainment effectively is about changing the rules. The right tools have to be developed to support the measurement of branded entertainment properties. TV producers who are unused to thinking about media schedules and have traditionally put their belief in the power of good content to draw audiences must realise that audiences now decide where, when and how to engage with content; content producers therefore have to think differently, as will agencies and brands. The key is to understand that branded content cannot acquire the audience, it has to earn it. Furthermore, although TV is still the most powerful media platform, brands and agencies must realise that no matter how good the TVC, it is still the most opportune excuse to get up and make a cup of tea.
Brands and agencies will have to work together with content producers and put the brand at the heart of the story. If you get this right, the opportunities are enormous.
Oswald Lucas is CEO, Wizard of Oz. firstname.lastname@example.org