BRANDED CONTENT – A Quick Sense Check

ImageLast night I attended the launch event for the Best of Branded Content 10th Anniversary Book organised by the BCMA and held at the offices of DigitasLBi.

I have some experience with branded content as I spent the best part of two years exploring the market and developing strategies for how brands could fund very high-end entertainment content. The event was a good opportunity to catch up on some of the best branded content of recent times and it got me thinking about what really makes a great piece of branded content whether it is a podcast, a music, video, a short film or an app. Is there one check that works across all forms of content that makes it more than just an ad. After watching a load of case studies, some good, some bad I landed upon on a single question.
Let’s start with the assumption that all branded content stems from a client brief which is brainstormed by a chosen creative team. The creatives will come up with some ideas to present, they will justify their chosen route to the client using a selection of cliches, post rationalisation, social media data and You Tube examples in the hope that the client can seethe emotional and financial benefits of flying Martin Scorsese, a camera crew, an elk and two bongos to the Amazon to demonstrate the features of a new digital camera. I’m being facetious but I wanted to create an extreme setting for my branded content sanity check. Watching the case studies I kept asking myself one question:
“If the brand had pulled the budget would the creative team have begged, stolen and borrowed to turn their idea into reality?”
If the answer is no then I think it would be sensible to wipe the whiteboards clean and start again. This is by no means a flawless analysis but I think what it does is create a base on which it is possible to differentiate between an ad and entertaining content.
If you are interested in having a look at some of the case studies that I have chosen not to give my opinion on here are some links:
If you just want to watch a load of Viral videos then check out Unruly Media’s fantastic Viral Video Chart.

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