The 2015 Global Edition of BOBCM is being supported by the IPA, ISBA, Marketing Society, PRCA, IAB UK, APA and Branded Content Marketing Association (BCMA), and to help shape what we feature and why we have been asking industry experts from around the globe the questions below for a new report, and you can see their reponses to date here.
What is branded content, and how is it is different from branded entertainment, content marketing and other related approaches like native advertising?
And more specifically,
What is the problem that content-based marketing approaches solve for business, and is this different from advertising?
First of all, it is fundamental to distinguish: Branded Content isn’t Advertising because these two communication and marketing tools have different origins and functionalities in the world.
Advertising and Marketing belong to the universe of intrusive and interruptive messages. Territories where brands make promises, sell products, institutional messages and tell what they want.
Bright Advertising can talk about trucks while involving people. Volvo’s great campaign, “Live Test Series” that didn’t win in the Branded Content & Entertainment category this year in Cannes Lions because it wasn’t a brand narrative, sold product benefits and was actually a very good example of “Long-Form Video Ads” .
Branded Content belongs to a very different universe: the one of Content and Entertainment. A territory of experiences and stories that transfers values and is fully oriented by what is really important to the audience – otherwise it will not involve nor engage – because people simply seek, get involved and dedicate their time to what is interesting and meaningful to them and not because it belongs to a brand.
Branded Content has two essential drivers: to generate relevance and value to the audience being useful. And in its best way, it is the encounter of the brand’s purpose with the human insight. It can be an immersive experience and it is, day after day, incorporating storytelling. Brands are telling compelling stories about people, about what is meaningful to them. Stories that make a lot of sense to people because they are inspired by questions related to human values and not with what brands want to say in a self-centered way.
Stories where the hero and protagonist is the audience, the entertainment can be the language and the focus isn’t based on impact, views or likes, but in provoking and expanding the conversation and relationship with the audience. As happened with the Intel and Toshiba’s case “The Beauty Inside”, Grand Prix in the 2013 Cannes Festival. Besides being a drama love story, with a very evident conflict (Alex, the protagonist woke up every day in a different body), it was also a social and participative story in its essence.
And with “Dove Beauty Sketches”, the most seen web Branded Film up to today created by Ogilvy’s Brazilian office for Unilever.
The female self-esteem is a powerful and universal human issue and it is, as well, a conceptual territory inhabited by the Brand Dove for many years. With a creative brief guided by a fact that “only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful”, they created a Brand Story that was in tune with the brand’s vocation and its role in people’s life.
Branded Content with storytelling has the power to humanize brands because great stories are bigger and meaningful than products. Chipotle is a brand that has chosen entertainment as the main way of communication. The brand connects to the audience through brand stories that integrate relevant values and not products. It was made tangible through the short films created by the CAA agency called “Back to Start” (2012) and “The Scarecrow” (2013) as well as through the original satirical series launched via streaming by the brand in 2014 called “Farmed and Dangerous”. Relevance, coherence, authenticity, original creativity and narrative. These are the most powerful ways of establishing emotional connection between brands and people today – involving and engaging them without interrupting their lives. But it is essential for the brand to identify the themes, the important human issues and social tensions that concern and affect the audience. By doing that, the brand can be the catalyst of a conversation that invites the audience to participate, entering into a larger discussion in the society, with a wider resonance – touching a human issue, something that people could immediately relate to because of its emotional connection.
Content Marketing represents a wider and extensive field in the content universe, which also includes all social and brand’s B to B initiatives, seeking relevance. Here I may consider, for example, Oreo’s well-known Twitter case during the Superbowl’s blackout. Although it also is, in my opinion, very similar to traditional opportunity ads.
Branded Entertainment is when a brand funds the production of TV programs and films such as “Lego, the Movie” which is very different from Product Integration (the old and traditional Product Placement that exists since the 50’s). When a brand places the product in a movie or TV program, it is a well-known comfort zone for the brands and agencies associated to sponsorships – and depending on the creativity on the form of how the brand is inserted in the plot, it can represent pure intrusion or interruption if there is no adherence. A good example of Product Integration is Wilson’s volleyball, which practically became a character in the feature film “Cast Away” in 2000 with Tom Hanks.
Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. It’s content that fits the medium in a way that does not interrupt the user.