This week MipTV in Cannes saw brands, agencies, media owners and production companies come together to discuss branded entertainment (BE).
Brand Culture's creative and content partner, Michael Mann, attended and shares his take on events:
The BE movement's gathering pace. The MipTV BE sessions and the campaigns presented are testament to great agency work and brands' growing appetite for this approach to marketing.
What was particularly interesting, from Brand Culture's point of view, was the level of attention being paid to the deliverables of BE – the content forms it can take, the activation channels employed across the marketing mix and how ROI can be measured. All very important and valid for helping to define and move BE forward but I would have loved one of the sessions to take it all back a step and focus specifically on 'why' BE works so well. Because for us, it's understanding the why that informs the creative content idea and how it's executed.
While 'emotional connection' and 'emotional engagement' were just mentioned in passing, we believe emotional influence is at the heart of BE and the core reason why brands should adopt it. Years of experience working directly for entertainment companies tells us that the rules of engagement for owners of great content are fundamentally different from those of a brand.
Because, unlike an entertainment property, most brands don't have the luxury of an audience that is passionate about their product area and eager to be entertained by them. That's why brands have traditionally relied on great advertising and marketing campaigns to tell brand stories that try to trigger an emotional response in consumers to prompt loyalty and advocacy.
The difficulty that's always faced marketers is coming up with consistently high quality, relevant storytelling that has true emotional influence.
And as if this weren't enough of a hurdle, in today's media fragmented, digital world, brands can no longer just rely on the stories they are pushing out being heard.
BE, in all its forms, can get around these problems. As far as we see it, the truth is that people – even your closest friends and family – just switch off if the only stories you tell are about yourself and your values. We believe BE can be used to devise stories that breathe life into brand values through subjects with which viewers, listeners or readers already enjoy an emotional attachment.
For me, the BE sessions at MipTV demonstrated how a strong creative idea can tap into the emotional connections consumers already have with their entertainment and lifestyle choices (things like music, sport, fashion, film, gaming, or even such things as being sustainable or 'green'). Activating a creative idea through BE, brands can tell remarkable, inspiring, funny and moving stories that consumers actively seek out, engage with, act upon and – importantly - share. Thus getting around that small marketing issue of media fragmentation.
The BE approach to content creation, curation and distribution was illustrated by a number of case studies (see below). Some campaigns partnered with music talent, others with fashion or beauty brands. Some leveraged consumer passion for sport or reading while others chose the weighty subject of protecting the planet. There were talent shows, live events, short films, long films and terrestrial and digital TV series.
In all cases, digital was embraced to help amplify the content and engage consumers in a dialogue. And, in all cases, the ways in which brand, agency, producer, entertainment property and media owner worked together was different, which just goes to show how the lines between entertainment, brand, property and media owners have blurred.
Panelists tended to refer to three constants across all examples presented;
- a genuine collaboration between specialists in each industry
- memorable, engaging content that stands up in its own right
- exceeding campaign expectations
I'd like to add 'creating a deeper emotional connection with consumers' to the list.
And what of ROI? As BE is still considered by many to be a new form of marketing, brands are still asking how this is all measured and justified.
In their white paper, Ogilvy & Mather's branded entertainment team proposed a common sense approach to the measurement process, essentially applying a scoring system to all campaign channels used to activate the branded entertainment campaign, measured against previously agreed brand objectives and strategy.
It was encouraging to hear panelists agree on the need for brands to look at BE on a strategic level rather than a tactical one (and set aside budget accordingly). Again, taking the rationale for this back a step, we'd point to the psychology behind how people develop bonds with each other; when it comes to having a meaningful, influential, two-way relationship with someone, even if we share the same passionate interest in something, we won't just become friends overnight.
If you get a moment, check out some of the case studies presented;
Cartier's beautiful short film, L'Odyssée (over 13m views)
Dunhill's engaging Jockey film, For The Love
Elle MacPherson's interactive Fashion Star TV show
Sephora's Beauty Academy Show in China
Specsavers' Book Club on Channel 4
Persil's Sensation Nightclub event in Russia, broadcast on MTV
Jonathan Mildenhall's (Coca-Cola) latest incarnation of the company's 'liquid and linked' content 2020 manifesto, featuring 'Knucklehead' Joey's Toe Tappy dance for Coke Zero