Branded content came in for some more serious discussion at MipCom 2007 conference amongst Indian content creators, broadcasters, advertisers and agencies. In addition to this, speakers also stressed on the need to face the challenges in the digital domain in order to know the digital domain well enough to be able to market content in that domain.
The session ‘Digital Marketing: How to reach the empowered consumer?’ under the ‘Global TV Trends’ series delved on the sheer power that the digital domain held, and also the challenges in the fact that not many vehicles in the digital medium gave the reach that mass media offered today.
Charles Stopford, Global Media Director, Unilever, UK, Central Resources Ltd began the discussion stating that so far advertisers had followed the traditional way of knowing the consumers and then literally announcing a product with a 30-sec TVC, but now as the consumer is changing, the advertisers have to think fast on newer ways in which the brand can communicate with the consumer and engage him with products or services.
Peter Tortorici, President, GroupM Entertainment, took the discussion forward and agreed with the moderator Doug Scott, Executive Director, Branded Content and Entertainment, O&M, that GroupM Entertainment was becoming more of a studio with the kind of work that it was doing.
Tortorici further said, “A studio is a model where you put in investments, create a property and then look at return from those investments. We are working on these kinds of properties to create an engaging experience for the consumers, and brands like Unilever have facilitated in the change of content that we see resulting from this by treating digital media and new forms of communication as just ‘media’ than new media.”
Karin Gilford, VP and GM, Yahoo! Entertainment, said here that a big change that was coming in branded entertainment was that in any medium, the brands had learnt to not become too brand heavy and just let content take control. “The brands are integrated seamlessly in any activity, and do not interfere with what the consumer is doing,” Gilford added.
Robert Friedman, President of Media and Entertainment, @radical.media, explained here that one reason why many commercials and brand communications, which were seen as breakthroughs in either creativity or in effectiveness, were seen on the digital space was because there was no way to house these on the traditional media. He said, “To keep the changing consumers engaged, you have to be telling them great stories.”
The panel identified digital medium as a way of aggregating content, which, according to them, was one of the points that was in favour of the media, as the content scale attracted people. However, Michael Davies, President and CEO, Embassy Row, pointed out that one big challenge of the digital growth was that it was creating newer platforms and hence, dividing audience. He asked, “When the audience is divided and the numbers are not so big, will the advertiser continue to put his money, in the content or the idea?”
Members of the panel also said that another fear of the digital domain came in the fact that everyone knew the domain had opportunity but no one could really say what these opportunities were. Stopford said, “It’s actually scary. In fact, whatever way we see for communicating with the audience, we first work out fail proofs, so that even if the idea didn’t work, you have not lost out a lot of money on it.”
The panel laid further emphasis on the fact in the media mesh, where the consumer was consuming various kinds of media at the same time, only some ideas would stand out. Branded entertainment would be a good tool for that.
In the panel that followed, which was on ‘Branded Entertainment: The Brand, The Producer and The Agency’, the panellists Valerie Accary, CEO, BBDO Paris, Thomas Moradpour, Marketing Director, PepsiCo International and Mike Morley, Senior Executive Director, Commercial and Creative, Endemol Group, highlighted the need for the clients, the content creators and advertising agencies to collaborate closely.
Moradpour explained that any idea that didn’t match the brand DNA, no matter how creative it was, couldn’t be used by the brand. In that sense, it was very important for any content idea to be able to communicate the characteristics or personality of the brand.
Morley was of the opinion that sometimes clarity on what a brand was could lead to the right content idea, and sometimes the beginnings of a content idea could be navigated in a direction that would suit the brand’s needs and more importantly, at the same time, be good content.
An example of the fact that branded content had no limits can be seen in the work done for Axe called ‘Game Killers’. The series was shown on MTV and was a case study for good branded communication. Now the series is at MipCom, distributed by Fremantle Media, as branded content. Unilever holds the IPR for this content.